According to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard, 50,036 homes sold in New York City in 2018, generating hundreds of millions in commissions. If you want to get in on that action, you’re not alone; the problem is in generating real estate leads in NYC. Real estate lead generation is highly competitive, requiring patience, professionalism and serious insight about how the business works. Here we offer 10 tips on how to get real estate leads in NYC.

1. Compare Brokerages

If you’re just getting into the business, it’s important to understand that different brokerages offer different levels of support for new hires. If you need to build your network of contacts, a small brokerage might be a good fit. According to John Dugan of Anchor Associates, working at a boutique brokerage allowed him to partner with more experienced agents who helped him develop his network. Conversely, if you already have a strong network, a big-name brokerage might make sense. Generally, big-name brokerages offer less handholding and more autonomy, allowing you to hit the ground running and build your personal brand.

2. Opt for Open Houses, Not Networking Events

Dugan cautions against going to too many real estate networking events. These can be costly and time-consuming. Instead of networking happy hours and trade shows, he recommends focusing on attending open houses or previewing homes as a real estate lead generation tactic. These will help you familiarize yourself with current inventory, meet other agents and potentially even introduce you to new clients.

“It’s very important to know the inventory in order to provide value to clients, especially if you’re not the person with the exclusive.”

3. No Commission is Too Small

If you write off an apartment or client as a low return on investment (ROI), you could miss out in the long run. Dugan recalls representing a tiny $1,800 per month studio in Manhattan Valley that he struggled to rent. The only real estate lead he got ended up passing on the studio, but that person turned into Dugan’s first buy-side client.

4. Master the Art of Conversation

If you’ve got a small marketing budget, it’s important to learn how to have influential conversations. “I’ve been working on this my entire career,” says Tyler Whitman of Triplemint. “Every single person you meet is a business opportunity. I’ve gotten to the point now where I can’t leave a party with at least two or three new strong leads.” Lean into the fact that real estate is such an interesting topic and position yourself as an industry expert, Whitman recommends.

5. Develop an Expertise

Developing a niche is a great way to build your brand. For example, if you focus on rentals on the Upper West Side, you’ll learn the market, become an expert on the UWS and eventually accrue a network of clients. That said, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one area alone. Later those Upper West Side clients may want to rent downtown or buy a co-op in the neighborhood. Successful agents need to be able to help clients across all stages of the home shopping journey. You’ll only be able to do this by working different types of deals.

6. Buy Targeted Advertising

If you have the budget, buying targeted ads on Facebook can be a strategic real estate lead-generation option. Dugan, however, only opts to buy Facebook ads when he has exclusive listings. Otherwise, he finds the platform too broad for the specificity of the New York market. “StreetEasy really has the best marketing in New York,” he says. Marketing tools on StreetEasy like Building Experts and Premier Agent use proprietary technology to help you connect with local, qualified leads.

7. Tap Your Current Leads

According to Whitman, the best source of new leads is his current leads. “Clients are in the middle of going through this intense, expensive process. Chances are they are going to talk to everyone they know about it. Be the positive part of their story. If you are the one good thing about their crazy stressful experience, how good an endorsement is that?”

8. Embrace Instagram

“Real estate is definitely a business where you have to spend money to make money. If you don’t have money upfront to spend, you have to be really good at the free things.” Says Whitman. “Social media is my biggest source of real estate leads.”

Although Whitman pays a video production company to help him make content for Instagram, you can market yourself on the platform for free. The most important thing with social media, Whitman recommends, is being consistent and not worrying about coming across as desperate or annoying.

Whitman also recommends using Instagram Stories to build a following. It can be as simple as attending a preview and posting about it. “You don’t have to necessarily say you’re not representing the property — and you wouldn’t be lying if you didn’t — but it positions you as an agent in the industry who’s out there doing things.”

9. Make Local Connections

Joining local organizations and engaging with the community can be a great way to make new connections and develop a pool of leads. Some agents make their entire living working in their building alone. StreetEasy’s Building Experts program helps agents solidify their standing in a building.

10. Choose the Right CRM

There are tons of CRM options out there so it’s important for you to find one that suits your specific needs. Dugan likes Contactually, a tool that streamlines his communications and makes it easy to stay in contact with past clients. The CRM sends reminders to connect with past clients and provides email templates that allow agents to automate sending. “I can be standing stuck on the subway platform and get a push to contact a dead lead. All the sudden that 7 minutes on the subway platform becomes productive.”