This article was originally published in Scotsman Guide Residential Edition: Turning “Technoships” Into Personal Relationships

The recent increase in mortgage rates has left loan officers in a situation that they haven’t experienced in quite some time. Many loan officers have spent the better part of their careers in the refinance boom seen over the past decade. Thanks to this refi boom and the pre-recession housing boom, generating an income has been relatively easy for many professionals in the mortgage industry.

Find new ways to reach referral partners right on their mobile gadgets

Looking forward, however, loan officers have a tough job to do. They must continually engage with their clients and referral partners without the ease of being able to offer all-time low rates. Any sales coach will tell you that engagement is the key to referrals and referrals are the key to the mortgage business. For those who choose to stay in the mortgage business, that means that relationships must be built.

“Technoships”

Inc. magazine recently published an article titled “9 Habits of People Who Build Extraordinary Relationships” by Jeff Haden. In the mortgage business, these relationships range from Realtors to financial planners to certified public accountants, as these professionals will be the lifeblood of the mortgage business moving forward.

Haden’s article includes one suggested habit that may be especially appealing to mortgage professionals: Start small — and stay small. Haden’s point is that every relationship has value and some may never become as fruitful as others. As professionals on the hunt for new referral partners, loan officers inevitably will find great relationships, good relationships and poor relationships. Regardless of their quality, however, those relationships almost always start out small.

By tracking the people who are using your app, you can use technology to find out who has interest in what you’re doing.

So, how can you make the most out of a small relationship? What can you do to at least get your name on the radar of potential referral partners?

Today, there are two distinct categories of relationships: personal and technological. The reason for these two categories is simple. Just think of Facebook: How many “friends” do you have technological relationships with (let’s called them “technoships”), and how many do you have an actual personal relationship with? Consider any social media, and you’ll find a distinct difference between the two.

When people meet potential referral partners for coffee, lunch or at a networking event, they may like to think that they immediately have a personal relationship with them. The reality, however, is that they simply have opened the door to a technoship.

Technoships are less intrusive and easier to start. That’s not to say that you don’t want to build up toward a personal relationship; it’s simply acknowledging the fact that it’s probably going to start by connecting on LinkedIn or Facebook, or perhaps by sending a follow-up e-mail or text message.

Unfortunately, most of your potential referral partners have hundreds — if not thousands — of technoships, so bridging the gap between technoship and relationship is the key to getting more referrals. Again, referrals are the key to the mortgage business, so you have to make it easy for people to want to refer you.
Making connections

Cutting through the technological clutter is the most effective way to go from a technoship to a personal relationship. As recently as just a few years ago, it was much easier to cut through the technological clutter. A Facebook fan page or LinkedIn account often felt like the cutting edge for professionals in the mortgage industry.

Today, however, it seems that everyone has a website, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, a blog and so forth. Today’s online sites have become crowded, and telling your prospective clients about “the lowest rates ever” is no longer a good sales pitch. Without being able to call a potential referral partner and tell them about low rates, how can a loan officer turn a technoship into a personal relationship?

According to the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of American adults had a cellphone as of this past May. Related, according to ABC News and a recent report from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, people check their mobile phone 150 times per day on average. With technology moving faster and faster to mobile, it’s easy to recognize where the technoships of the future will be built and nurtured. The cellphone is the ultimate fast track to personal relationships. Not only that, but people also are willing to eliminate some of their personal relationships for deeper technoships on their devices.

Consider the way that you feel if you leave your cellphone at home. It can feel like leaving a child behind, which is exactly the reason why many people never leave their cellphones at home. In addition, many people are on their cellphones during meals, their commutes and just about anywhere else. With all of that in mind, you can see how having a relationship with a person’s cellphone is the modern way to someone’s heart.

This raises one serious question: Are you marketing your business and engaging your potential referral partners on the one thing they use most? If you aspire to be a serious contender in the mortgage business, you must find a way to get on your referral partners’ phones, because they probably spend more time with their smartphones than they do talking with their closest friends.

Creating an app

Creating a relationship slowly on your new referral partner’s phone is a delicate situation. After all, you probably wouldn’t want some new insurance agent texting you after meeting briefly at a networking event. You could call your potential referral partner immediately, but as with any relationship, you have to start small or it could be just too overbearing.

The true solution to starting a small technoship with potential referral partners is to create your own app. That’s right — your own app that lives on the phones of your potential referral partners.

Although this may seem like a daunting task, there are three key factors to having a successful app that may make the process easier for you. Consider the following:

The app must be useful for potential referral partners. Otherwise, they won’t keep it on their phone.
Incorporate your picture. People connect with people and having your face on potential referral partners’ phones is a great way to generate awareness.

You must be able to track the people who are using your app. This allows you to start building your new personal relationships.
The most important aspect of turning a technoship into a personal relationship these days is mutual interest. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to find people with enough time on their hands to meet with anyone who requests a meeting. Even if they do have the time, there’s a good chance they are not doing a lot of business.

By tracking the people who are using your app, you can use technology to find out who has interest in what you’re doing. This allows you to efficiently determine how far your technoship has gone before going in for the personal relationship. By mirroring interest levels, you’ll never seem overbearing in your attempt to build that personal relationship.

Of course, having your own app is exciting now, but that may mean that everyone will eventually have their own app just as everyone seems to have a website. The last thing that you want is your competitors getting their apps on peoples’ phones before you do, so it may be important to act quickly.

Mobile technology is here and it’s not going anywhere. As with anything you can be an early adopter or you can wait. If you don’t take action soon, however, you may allow your competition’s technoships to grow while you’re still stuck e-mailing people or hoping that they check your Facebook page.

Written by Ben Brashen, CardTapp CEO