I’ll be honest. When I showed up to my first real estate meetup group in Atlanta, GA I was extremely nervous. I was still fairly new the world of real estate and didn’t quite know what to expect. The idea of going to meetups was first suggested to me by some real estate blogs and other investors I was following online. Many people mentioned them as a great way to make connections with like-minded people who could help me reach my goals faster. I didn’t have much to lose by checking out the group, especially since it was free, but as I pulled into the parking lot, I was definitely nervous. Normally I’m pretty fearless and assertive but moments before I walked into the meeting there was a small voice of doubt I had to suppress and a glimmer of courage I had to cling to in order to actually walk into the meeting. Here are 5 things I was thinking during the meeting:
1. “There aren’t a lot of people who look like me.” When I entered the room, one thing became immediately apparent – there weren’t many people who looked like me. As I scanned the room, I quickly noticed that it was dominated by white men. As an African-American female I stood out like the lone chocolate chip in sea of vanilla. The demographics weren’t exactly shocking to me, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel out of place initially. About 5 minutes later a couple women walked in the meeting. Soon thereafter, the room became a bit more diverse and I became a lot more comfortable.
2. “Wow. There is a lot I don’t know.” The meeting started with an introduction and quickly transitioned into a deep-dive on how to flip houses in a cost-effective manner. I found the material interesting, but several of the details were a little above my head. Although I knew some of the basics, many of the terms have subtle differences which can be a bit tough to keep straight for anyone who isn’t as familiar with the vocabulary. Understanding the difference between an Internal Rate of Rate and the Cash-on-Cash return, definitely caused me a bit of confusion. At first, I was alarmed, but as I continued to sit there and listen to the speaker, things started making a little more sense. I didn’t grasp everything, but I understood a good portion of it and certainly gained more knowledge than I had before I walked into the meeting.
3. “The people here are really smart.” For the second part of the meeting we split into smaller groups of about 10 people. We then introduced ourselves and spoke about our previous real estate experience and our current real estate goals. It was during this session that I was literally blown away. As people introduced themselves, it became obvious that the majority of these people had years and even decades of real estate investing experience. Some of them mentioned previous deals and spoke about things they did to save money on costs and increase profits. I was amazed.
4. “I’m making a lot of connections.” When it came time for me to introduce myself, I decided to take a leap of faith and be honest. Despite the myriad of investing experience that surrounded me in this group, I opened my mouth and admitted that I hadn’t actually started investing in real estate yet. I mentioned that I was, at that time, still a medical student who had a desire to use multifamily real estate investing to achieve my goal of financial independence. Much to my surprise, they didn’t judge me or give me condescending looks of disapproval. Instead, they all applauded my honesty and were extremely encouraging. Several of the investors told me stories about how they found their first deals, different ideas for how to find capital (aka using other people’s money to fund your deals) and a few even offered to walk me though the process. Going to this meeting helped me make several different connections that proved to be extremely valuable.
5. “I’m really glad I went.” Despite the initial nerves, feelings of being out of place, and the realization that I was amongst people who were way more knowledgeable than I was, I am so glad I went to that meeting. Not only did I learn a lot, but I also connected with several people that I never would have met otherwise. Overcoming my fears of going to that meeting, gave me the courage to go to even more meetings. Before I knew it, I became a regular attendee and gained access to exclusive deals and financing opportunities only reserved for people with certain connections. As the old saying goes, “To achieve something you’ve never obtained, you must do something you’ve never done.” Going to my first real estate meetup was a testament to this. Although my life as a resident physician working up to 80 hours a week can make attending these meetup groups a little challenging, I still go when I can and have never regretted it.