If you want to be the market leader in your area or a niche therein you must become an expert at identifying and cultivating common ground with as many potential clients and referral sources as possible. All too often, we hear people say, “I have nothing in common with certain people”, and by that very statement, they dismiss a cornucopia of business opportunities.

Identifying and cultivating common ground is a two-step process.  Each step requires a specific skill.

Step One: Identification

To identify what you do have in common with others you need to notice more about them and their personal environment. You also need encourage people to tell you about what interests them.  Then, keep an open mind instead of shutting down after your automatic critiques and knee jerk reactions. By doing so you no doubt will see others in a new light. 

Rather than letting your critique become front and center in your mind, we would suggest that, when you meet someone for the first time, you immediately zero in on what is pleasing about them to you, or their environment.  This creates an opportunity to identify common ground.

With practice you will find that an open mind becomes your new automatic response. That is the skill that separates the good agents from the best agents. Here is an example:

We wanted to meet an influential individual in the real estate industry, and somehow he eluded us with the usual excuses: time constraints and being ultra busy.  At a NAR meeting, we noticed him trotting down the hall heading somewhere. We started trotting with him.  Our first remark other than hello was: 

“You need a new picture for your profile, you are so much better looking than your present photo!”   This was the start of a great mutually beneficial long-term relationship. He soon had a new photo taken, and thanked us for the suggestion.

Step Two:  Cultivation

In order to be fluent in the art of cultivating common ground, you have to keep educating yourself, and not just in Continuing Education Units for Real Estate.  Become savvy in a variety of subjects to cultivate a connection. Life-long learning is the other skill worth embracing.

An agent friend used her knowledge of gardening as a means to cultivate a common ground with potential sellers.  She listed the home of a couple whose pride and joy was their Japanese garden. Although, Zen gardens are not her personal preference she was fluent on the topic. The listing required no pitch whatsoever, because none of the other competing agents appreciated what was so important to the couple!

Become a master at identifying and cultivating common ground. Go forth and meet as many influential people as possible. Then, watch your garden of business grow.