If you can get through the swearing and nearly manic self-hype, Gary Vaynerchuk will teach you an interesting way to generate a consistent stream of commercial real estate (CRE) leads.
Gary Vee, as he’s often known online, doesn’t cold call prospects. He doesn’t do email blasts, spend money on billboards, or send clever sales letters in snail mail. Instead, Fortune 500 companies regularly seek him out and pay his company, VaynerMedia, a minimum fee of $50k per month for help with their branding and social media strategies.
How Gary Vee continually generates new leads for his business is not a well-kept secret. If you listen to his podcast, watch his videos, or read his blog, he’ll tell you exactly how he does it, over and over again. In fact, that is the secret. Vaynerchuk uses online platforms to give away his knowledge to large audiences, knowing that some of those people will need his services someday.
There’s no barrier to using the same method to generate CRE leads. Investors, property managers, and tenants go online every day to find the exact insights you’ve earned after years in the game. Just log on to Quora, Reddit, or HARO, and offer expertise to the people you want to speak with. You’ll build trust and credibility while creating an ever-accelerating flywheel of lead generation.
Quora is a free question-and-answer website. As a CRE pro, you can be the expert voice to potential buyers looking for help on Quora.
People use Quora sort of like a search engine. The difference is in the source of the answers. On Quora, answers are crowdsourced from other users.
The magic of Quora is that it’s not just the person who has asked the question who sees the answer. The implication is that you could answer one question, but hundreds or thousands of people could see your response.
That happens because Quora allows users to follow the topics that interest them.
Then, those users receive emails when their topics have new questions, questions have new answers, or people they follow engage with a thread.
You come in by answering users’ questions. Everyone interested in CRE sees you playing a part in the discussions.
Quora’s Q&A format naturally segments readers into very specific categories by both interest and intent. That means you can easily find the commercial real estate leads that match your expertise and fit your ideal customer profile.
Sometimes, people ask a question that is location-dependent. This is common for legal matters, in which local laws apply. But there are also plenty of questions about specific markets.
If you’re focused on a geographic territory, you can pinpoint potential buyers in those locales.
The topics embedded in each question will tell you if the asker is a buyer, a seller, a property manager, or, in this case, an investor looking for buyers.
This makes it really easy to find and engage with people who are in the right stage of the CRE pipeline.
You can infer where someone is in their CRE journey by the questions they ask. A question like this likely comes from someone whose been around the city block a couple of times:
Whether you lean toward guiding first-time CRE investors or partnering with grizzled veterans, you’ll be able to spot each on Quora by the questions they ask.
To generate commercial real estate leads on Quora, first register, and then start answering questions. Here’s how to get started:
Get followers on Quora with a bio that hits your career highlights and credentials (make sure you include a link to your website). Then, add your areas of expertise to the “Know About” section. And, finally, place a professional head shot.
Here’s how social media pro Neil Patel does it:
Notice how Patel’s bio starts with a strong highlight. For a CRE broker, this might be an accreditation or an award—whatever is most meaningful to your future clients.
Use the search bar at the top of the Quora main page to find topics you can weigh in on.
Of course, “commercial real estate” is a good place to start. But go beyond that, and think about the things your clients are asking. Here are a few examples:
There’s no charge for searching, so get creative, and see what comes up.
Once you find one good question to answer, see what other tags it’s associated with.
Then, search those tags for more opportunities to be helpful and engage potential clients.
One of the strengths of Quora is that users get to rate each answer with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. The highest-rated answers get the most eyeballs.
Two things will help bump your answers to the top. First, answer the question completely. Here’s a great example:
The broker could have offered just one story and left it at that. Instead, he detailed four of his best deals and then went on to talk about three that almost happened. This reply received 32 upvotes and has been seen by 11.8k people.
Next, make your longer answers skimmable. Break up long sections, and bold your key ideas so a reader can get the gist in a couple of seconds. This answer has several points to it, but it’s easy to digest:
Don’t be afraid to add a link to another resource, like your blog or another article. If it helps the reader, it’s good for Quora.
Reddit is a social news platform that calls itself “the front page of the internet.” Users, or Redditors, create communities around common interests and then have conversations about those topics on message boards.
Reddit is a fantastic place to have meaningful conversations with potential commercial real estate leads. But a quick word of warning: Redditors will downvote a hard sales pitch and moderators may even kick you out of the group if you’re approach is too self-serving.
Unlike other social platforms, where memes and 240-character captions prevail, Reddit is a place for deep discussions between passionate members. As an experienced CRE pro with lots of insights to share, you’ll quickly become a follower favorite.
Here’s a typical conversion on the r/commercialrealestate subreddit.
Not only can you comment on the original post, but you can also reply directly to other comments. That allows for a robust conversation, similar to one you might have at an in-person networking event.
There are some tactics you can use on Reddit to quickly gain exposure and build credibility with the exact people you’d hope to get on the other end of a cold call.
Find the most relevant subreddits
Just like on Quora, Reddit has a search bar you can use to look for topics or, in this case, subreddits filled with people who will benefit from your knowledge.
Here are a few to get you started:
Once you find a good potential subreddit, check out the group’s stats on the sidebar.
That will tell you how large the group is and will give you an idea of what it’s about.
Take note of the community rules that are also placed on the sidebar.
Review those to stay out of hot water with moderators and to get a deeper understanding of the group’s purpose.
Use the same conversational tactics you use to get people talking in real life and you’ll do well on Reddit: ask probing questions, offer helpful advice, and share personal stories.
Here’s an excellent response that shows topical authority and elicits several rounds of questions from a group of current or potential commercial landlords.
Notice the replier led with their experience. Sure, you don’t want to hit them with a sales pitch, but there’s nothing wrong with letting them know why they should listen to you.
Start your own conversations
Starting your own post is a great way to draw out the people you most want to speak with. You can tailor your post to the persona you want to find, and you’ll gain valuable insight into what your prospective clients are thinking.
For example, ask something like, “What’s the most difficult negotiation you’ve ever had on the buyer’s side of the table?” to surface experienced buyers. Or try, “What’s holding you back from investing in commercial real estate?” if you’re looking for first-timers.
This post illustrates another way to help and engage people through a Reddit post: share a personal experience.
This Redditor provided great detail in how they overcame a challenge that would be familiar to others in their field. The post pulled over 460 upvotes and generated over 100 comments. All while positioning the poster as an expert in their field.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a website that connects journalists and bloggers with expert sources. Anyone can be a source on any topic, as long as you have some credentials you can provide to the reporter.
The workflow on HARO is simple. Reporters enter a request for quotes or interviews, which are sent by email to everyone who has signed up as a source for that topic. If you reply, and your quote is chosen, you get a citation in the article.
When you’re cited in an article, every reader sees you as the topic expert. You get exposure to an audience as well as automatic credibility. And you may net a nice backlink to your website, which makes Google happy and invites more traffic.
Best of all, using HARO is free and takes very little time. Requests for sources show up in your email inbox, and you just spend a few minutes answering a reporter’s questions.
Some requests on HARO get competitive, with hundreds of people replying to the reporter. The best way to get your response chosen is to be quick and precise in your responses.
When you sign up as a source on HARO, you select the topics you’re qualified to speak about.
Then, you’ll receive emails three times a day, like this one, with a list of reporter requests for information on your specific topics.
To reply, just click on the blind email address in the request.
Everyone’s request hits the reporter’s email in the order they’re sent. You don’t want to be last in a 100-email queue. Luckily, your HARO emails will hit your inbox at the same time every day. Mark the time the first one’s show up, and set a reminder to check in the future.
HARO posts urgent requests on Twitter, so keep an eye on that. You can catch a time-crunched reporter and snag a quick citation.
You can also shave time off of sending replies by creating an email template. Include your name and title, two or three ways the reporter can contact you, a link to your LinkedIn profile, the link you’d like them to use in the citation, and a couple of sentences about your credentials and background. Having that prepped means you won’t be typing it for each response.
Here’s a sample email to use as inspiration.
Provide precise answers
Reporters go into these things knowing what they want their article to look like. If your reply matches the format of their request, you’ll get the citation.
Some requests might ask for a full-blown narrative. Other reporters just want quick tips. Reply accordingly.
If there are multiple questions in a request, answer them in the same order. That will help the reporter organize responses in roundup pieces.
And remember that your response is “on the record.” Meaning, it may get published exactly as you send it, without further interviews or clarifications. So send your top-shelf material.
You’ll have some quick wins when you trade your experience for leads. But the real magic happens when the information you put on these platforms takes on a life of its own, getting shared from one potential lead to the next.
You can jump-start this engine by cross-linking your activity. When you comment on a post on Reddit, link to an answer you gave on Quora. When you respond to a reporter on HARO, show them a conversation you joined on Reddit.