Many real estate agents build their businesses by simply working their faces off.

While this is one way to do it, there are some downsides to this, including the onset of burnout and the disruption to other important areas of your life like your physical health, your mental health and your relationships.

Another way to build a tremendous real estate business, while avoiding burnout and total life disruption is by building strategic referral partnerships.

The reality is that most real estate agents are just a few relationships away from a totally changed business and quality of life.

In this episode, real estate industry icon Don Yoakum and I discuss the power of these strategic referral partnerships.

We will also share an incredible opportunity to be a part of a nationwide network that Don is about ready to launch, which you could be a part of as an agent or even as a coach.

Don’t miss this one!!

Background in Real Estate

Much like myself, Don Yoakum studies, teaches and ultimately has mastered the art of how to get referrals from your professional network. He is a family man, accomplished in many fields, and known by some of the best success minds in the country (plus he was once the best windsurfer in the world and has been on multiple olympic teams!). 

Most notably, Don is the founder of a coaching platform called ProInsight, which he began in 2010 to teach Realtors how to get referrals from their professional network. He began a career in 1990, selling 51 homes his first year in Real Estate. In the year 2000 he was assigned as a Keller Williams office Team Leader, where he took one marketplace to the most profitable in the world. He then built nine more following suit.

In conjunction with what we do here with Think Bigger, there is now opportunity for you to coach from what he has built! First let’s take a look at his mindset and model. 

Haystacks and Pin Cushions 

The traditional route of finding a qualified buyer or seller you can and actually want to work with can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Sourcing for these seemingly rare finds through common pathways will of course produce results, but there is opportunity cost to using time and energy this way. 

While you’re busy metaphorically sorting through hay, you’re trading off other things of value in your life that you’d rather be prioritizing: family, health, ultimately significance and likely impact. 

Instead, we’re going to walk you through a simple framework to source for your “needle”, not from a haystack, but from a “pin cushion”. Instead of spending your time sorting through who you can’t work with, you’ll be able to pull out a pin by networking with professionals that are involved with common life events: 

  • Birth
  • Diploma
  • Married
  • Promoted
  • Transferred
  • Divorced 

For instance, for a wedding to take place, there will often be a network comprised of a venue manager, a cake decorator, a florist, a caterer, a DJ, a wedding planner, a photographer, and more like them who will be likely to encounter someone with a need to move after the event takes place. 

Are you referable?

You’ll need to provide real and unique value in order to earn the connections of the aforementioned professionals. Consider the following categories and reflect on these questions:

  • Punctual: Do you show up on time?
  • Trustworthy: Do you do what you say?
    • Your referrals will be in proportion to the amount you exceed your clients’ expectations. 
  • Reliable: Do you finish what you start?
  • Polite: Do you say please and thank you? 
    • Common behavior creates common income, uncommon behavior creates extraordinary income. Simple politeness is often overlooked!
  • Knowledgeable: Are you the best at something?
    • Geographic
    • Demographic
    • Property Specific (ie: condo, duplex, etc) 
    • Find a need that aligns with the market and you’ll always have plenty of things to market!

Your network will determine your net worth

When assembling a network of professionals, be mindful of those you align yourself with and recommend to the clients you serve. Someone you refer isn’t looking for an “H&R Block” service with other vendors, rather one matching the high level one you offer. 

For this reason, you’ll want to prioritize relationships with partners that are two things: Relationship-based and Growth-minded.

Assembling your team

The best place to start for a Realtor is to partner with a like-minded lender. A lender will then likely have professional affiliate vendors and relationships with home improvement professionals servicing “trigger events” just before listing 

Remember this: 1 out of every 6 homes is doing so to get ready to sell! We share examples of Realtors who receive three to four listings/year just from their painter. (side note: listings often lead to two-sided transactions!)

Asset-based professionals a Lender may already be connected with:

  • Homeowner insurance 
  • Financial Planner
  • Bankruptcy/Divorce/Probate/Estate Attorney 
  • CPA (one of the most influential parties, if growth-minded they make a great partner)

Vendor-based professionals you and your Lender may already be connected with:

  • Landscaper
  • Property Manager
  • Senior Advisor
  • Remodeling
  • Painting
  • Tree Trimmer
  • Flooring
  • Roofer 

Turn your database into a data-bank

Each professional has a client base, a sphere of influence. Once you’ve determined you can add a high-level of value and referable service to these professionals as well as your own current database, you can learn how to ask one question to unlock these referrals. 

Remember this principle: you’ll be judged by the quality of questions you ask. Ask questions to uncover opportunity! With you in mind, teach your asset-based professionals to ask this one question:

Do you plan to buy or sell in the coming year? 

Understand the math 

12 person network x 200 contacts per professional = 2,400 total network prospects, 240 moves

  • The average CPA has 500 clients. If people move every 10 years, then 50 potential moves could equate to 100 transactions (listing and buying) if they’re willing to ask the question you’ve taught them. Keep in mind, this doesn’t account for income property or second homes they may have! The opportunity in this example could be more than 100 referable transactions if you serve a CPA properly and teach them how to ask the right questions of their clients.
  • Consider this same equation with Insurance Agents who have 750-1000 clients,  equating to 75 potential moves that open over 150 referable transactions for someone they trust!

How to offer value

As you continue to serve these asset-based professionals, you’ll learn of ways you can educate and add value to their business and be incorporated naturally into serving their database (and they yours!). Here are a few ideas of how you could partner with these professionals and serve your clients together:

  • Host an Economic Update Panel to answer questions and settle doubts in a shifting market 
  • Organize an Expert Panel Event (ie: how to turn a second home into an AirBNB)
  • Hold an effective Mastermind event (Read a book/quarter: Endless referrals, Never Alone, Mindset, The Upstream Model)
  • Professional Network Mastery Course: ProInsight and Think Bigger, in conjunction with Success Coaching (Marcus Truman), are preparing material for this course!
  • Coaching Opportunity: we will be offering opportunities for a professional who wants to form a community or for interest in becoming a coach using this model

If you can’t afford a coach, find a support and accountability partner in a referral market that is doing today what you want to do next. Choose someone who is at least one step ahead of you that can help you avoid potholes in your journey of growth. 

The goal is to build a successful business that allows you to build significance in your life, so you can stop looking for needles in a haystack and move to sourcing from full pincushions. Let us help you do this! 



When you're ready, here are a few ways we at Think Bigger Real Estate can help you...

1. Get Your Personalized Referral Score™. Discover how much untapped commission dollars are available inside your sphere and professional network AND the first step you can take to capture this low-hanging fruit CLICK HERE

2. Join our free mastermind: Think Bigger Real Estate. Everyone wants to work by referral but what do you do when your goals outpace the number of your referrals received? To learn how to scale up your referral-based business CLICK HERE  

3. Schedule a conversation to explore what it looks like to work with us directly:
To get help becoming a top professional with a 7-Figure-Funded, Significant Life (growing a wildly successful enterprise without losing focus on what matters most (body, mind, heart and spirit) CLICK HERE