“Who’s on your team?” is a phrase coined by a good friend and fellow associate of mine, Emily Ferguson. Networking and building relationships has been written and spoken about forever. I hope this is telling you something, it has told me … it is important and a big key to success in any business or endeavor. It has withheld the statue of time. In today’s fast-paced, Internet-connected society, you need a team of people working with you. I’m going to throw a new mix in the pot … diversity. Diversify yourself to success. We all know that doing the same thing repeatedly will produce the same results, good or bad. Change what you are doing and add diversity into the mixture and voila, you have the secret ingredient. You know how just that little “pinch” of salt, sugar or spice can make a dish sizzle. That is what diversity will bring to your marketing and relationship building skills… sizzle! Diversity can have multiple meanings. Let’s look at the first meaning I am speaking of. Diversify your core and inner networking group. Do you meet the same group of people day in and day out? Do you attend the same monthly networking breakfast meeting? Do you attend the same after hours meet and greets? Step outside of your comfort circle, and seek out and join a new group, club and organization. It can even be online. Check out LinkedIn if you are not yet connected. It is the Facebook for business professionals. You might want to reach out to a different area or outlet, so diversify yourself when joining new groups. Obviously you wouldn’t want to join a group you would have no connection or relevance to. But by adding new groups and new encounters, you are bound to connect with a new person you have some strong connection with. All it takes is one core person who aligns with you, and believes that you are a person of value. When this happens, that person will become your salesperson. Just imagine how your business would change with multiple core individuals believing in you, referring you business. Your business will explode. Soon, you will have your own “private-label” sales team, and all you need to do in return is refer them and be their salesperson. This is where it gets tricky. You cannot do this with just anyone, you need to build a bond, a relationship, create a team. The creation of the team will create synergy. I have spoken in the past of choosing your partners wisely. The people you create bonds with will become a reflection of you, who you are and how you operate. This is key when building a team. The second part of diversity, is adding a new product or service that complements your current business. This is now something you do rather than refer another person. I chose to become an enrolled agent, a practitioner who has technical expertise in taxation, has successfully passed three levels of tax exams by the IRS and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the Internal Revenue Service for audits, collections, and appeals. Therefore giving you an-in depth knowledge of tax preparation and business entities. I choose this field because it was an interest I had, and a great cross-over business. If you are preparing the tax returns of your clients, it is easy to suggest a refinance to lower their rate, pull cash out for other investments. It also flips well as my mortgage clients know I already have their tax returns, I know all about them, so why not use me as their tax professional as well? This is just one way, as there are a multitude of other ways, marketing relating products such as a bi-weekly mortgage products, mortgage insurance, hardwood flooring, closet organizing, house cleaning … the list continues. It is what you have an interest in or previous knowledge of. If you have an interest and no previous knowledge, take a class as you can learn and grow. As excerpt from my new book, Stepping Stones to Success: “New ventures are becoming commonplace in today’s marketplace. It is not uncommon to end one’s career and start or add a new one. Open new doors. You are smarter, stronger, less stressed, and more experienced than you were when you first started. Your focus is sharper. Many Americans are planning to work well into their 60s; some are even keeping positions during their 70s. We experience paradigm shifts in the 90s, relating to living and working longer. We now have new career paths as we age.” We have now looked at two uniquely different ways of diversity, by diversifying your core networking group, and by adding another complimentary product. The third way to diversify is really twofold. Diversify your marketing and sales plans. Some synonyms for diversify are: Changing, specialize, broadening your horizons and branching out. I will suggest you not only adapt new marketing ideas and campaigns, but to also diversify who you are marketing too. Utilizing new sales and marketing ideas, such as online marketing, the use of e-mail drip campaigns, asking for referrals from other associates you are in contact with are just a few differing marketing campaigns. I personally am not fond of Facebook. In my opinion, Facebook is a social gathering where often people tell too much online. If you like it, then use it. For work and professional business, I like Linked In. I am part of the language of luxury LOL, a high-end Realtor connection and Plaxo. This is a good way to connect to business associates and potential team members. You can see what they are doing, what they have done. This works well with account executives, Realtors, builders, attorneys, insurance agents, tax professionals such as CPAs. It allows you to have a connection, but not be too personal, again, like Facebook. Facebook is for your friends and for you to be yourself. I hope I am not offending any Facebook lovers out there, as I am sure there is someone out there who feels differently and may have a great success story to share with us. This is my opinion only. I am a true believer in a mission statement. Create your own mission statement and know it. The worst thing you can do is stumble when telling someone what you do or even ramble on. It was Dr. Ivan Misner who once said, “Practice it and practice it until it rolls out of your mouth with ease.” Once you have this down you can be standing in line to purchase groceries, rent a DVD, see a movie and in minutes (under two) you can tell someone what you do. Give them your business card, two to be exact, one they can keep and one they can give away. As a mortgage professional you should have a team of other professionals you work with. If not, create a team. It is okay to have multiple teams, for example. I have three key Realtors that send me purchase clients. All three are in different areas geographically. Each Realtor has an attorney that they choose to refer business to. I work well and like each one very much; therefore, when I refer a client not coming from the Realtor to a real estate attorney, I typically will choose the one located closest to the new client, but will often give them two names to make a choice from. We all have different insurance reps we refer, and I have one builder who knows how to do 203Ks and we will use him with all three. I became friends with one Realtor from a referral from an attorney I work with in taxation. She, in turn, invited me to host an open house for Realtors. I joined her at the open house, bringing in some food never hurts! But, that is where and how I met the second Realtor. The second Realtor started sending me quite a bit of business before the first one I had the open house with did. Then, the first one with the open house started referring clients as well. I think there is plenty of business to go around. I, in turn, refer each Realtor clients in their area as I get them. So this goes back to, “Who’s on your team?” The more people you know, the larger your team will become. I hired a someone to help me with my marketing. She sends out my thank you cards, and congratulates homeowners on their new home, reminders about low interest rates, and other personalized “real mail.” My husband is a retired postal worker, and I just would hate to see the post office go out of business, and my clients like the fact that I thought enough to mail them something. You can sign up for an e-mail marketing campaign that allows you to design specific messages and send them to specified targeted groups. You can set the time and day the e-mail is to go out, how often. This opens a whole can of worms; however you must have e-mail address permission and opt-in and opt-out rights. Diversify and multiply! Laura Lynn Burke, EA is an author, trainer, speaker, loan officer and enrolled agent, “permitted to practice by the IRS.” Burke works for Mid-Nation Mortgage Company as a loan officer, she owns Professional Tax Masters Inc. and Footprints International Training Company. She may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].