Is joining and attending the meetings of your local investor club a productive use of your time? I get this question a lot. Local REIA clubs (as they are referred to) have been around for decades and most are non-profit associations whose members gather together monthly to share ideas and network.

The larger the city, the larger the group, and in some cities, there are more than one in the same city. On the surface, these local REIA clubs seem like ideal meetings for investors to attend. However, there are some things to consider and some rules to follow to optimize your experience.

When I first started investing, I went to every monthly REIA meeting. What I discovered was that the most successful investors in my area never attended those meetings! Where were they? As I began to ask myself that question, I also began to look around at the other attendees around me. The majority of the people at those gatherings were beginners just like me and getting tips and ideas from them was like the blind leading the blind.

Then, I figured it out after talking with a very experienced local investor that wasn’t a member of the local REIA club. I learned that the reason why he didn’t attend those monthly gatherings was because he didn’t want to share the secrets he was using to make a ton of money. His question to me was, “Phil, why I am going to take time out of my busy schedule to go create competitors?” Instead, what he did was join a mastermind group of top investors from across the country to connect and share ideas with because he knew he wouldn’t be creating any local competitors.

On the other hand, in my early years of attending REIA meetings, I did find a dynamite hard money lender and a terrific closing company that helped closed some creative deals for me. Just those two contacts alone made it all worth while for me.

I have developed two simple rules for when you should attend your local REIA club meeting:

Rule # 1 – Loose Lips Sink Ships: Be quick to listen and ask questions and be very slow to speak. It’s OK to collect ideas from others but resist the temptation to share all your best ideas on what you are doing and what you know. That may sound counter-intuitive and the opposite of what others may teach, but it’s the truth. The spouting whale gets the first harpoon. On a local level, when you share your best ideas and learning lessons at local REIA meetings, you are empowering the competition.

Think about it. Are all the local injury attorneys in your town gathering each month and sharing their most successful tips with each other? Of course not! Competition exists out there in every business, including real estate. However, if you are part of a group of investors in different markets across the country, sharing your best tips will help the group and in turn, the group may provide you with great ideas.

Investors benefit tremendously from the others in the group because everyone is scattered across the country. As in the example of the injury attorneys, there are certainly conferences and masterminds that local injury attorneys attend to get ideas from attorneys in other markets who are not direct competitors.

Rule # 2 – Network Strategically: If you attend a local REIA meeting, have a goal in mind as to what you want to accomplish, such as what type of vendor you are looking for; whether that be a hard money lender, a closing company, a mortgage broker, a real estate agent, etc. If that is your goal, center your attention on locating and networking with just those vendors that are critical to your business. Aimless networking may eat up your time with nice people who make great conversation but who may not be a good fit for helping your business and may prevent you from reaching the most important players in the room.

Follow those two rules and you will make your attendance at a local REIA meeting very productive and helpful.

To find a local club near you, here is an up-to-date list:

Real Estate Clubs

Finally, some people attend local REIA meetings for social reasons. If that is important to you, then everything I have said above does not apply to you. Perhaps I am different than many but I look at investing as a business. And as such, I separate it from my personal life, in that, if I attend to a local REIA meeting from 6-9PM on a Monday night, I consider that business time, not personal time.

Therefore, I try to keep it as efficient and productive as possible. Because that 3 hour block could have been used in other parts of my investing business and time is precious and must be used wisely. But you may view those meetings as personal time and an opportunity to meet, greet, hang out and socialize with fun and cool people. And if that is your thing, then more power to you.

What are your thoughts on your local REIA club?

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