Megan Lopez worked for several years as an account payable supervisor at a hospital. She enjoyed the work, the group she supervised, and the hospital setting. Yet Megan craved a more adventuresome career, work with more flexible hours, and the opportunity to earn a higher

income. In her words, “Carter, my husband, and I both work, but we are struggling to

break even. We need to build up an investment portfolio so we can send our children to college. Shauna, our oldest, starts college in three years.”

While searching job boards on the Internet,Megan saw an opening for a mortgage broker in White Plains, N.Y., the same town in which she and her family lived. Shortly after sending a résumé and cover letter to Regency Brokers, Megan received a phone call from Ken Demster, the Regency owner.  She agreed to an interview, and was made a job offer during her second interview. The job offer meant that Megan would represent Regency in obtaining contracts for residential and commercial mort- gages. Megan would work on commission only, receiving 50 percent of the value of the contract. The borrowers would pay Regency a fee of about$250 for helping them find a suitable mortgage. Ashley would receive about 25 percent of the fee the mortgage holder paid Regency.

Before agreeing to quit her job at the hospital and sign up with Regency, Megan asked what it would take for her to be successful as a mort- gage broker. Ken replied, “I have a single answer for you. Network like crazy. There arehundreds of people out there who need a mort- gage now or in the future, or who would like to refinance. You just have to find them before another mortgage broker does or they go directly to their bank or credit union.”

“A few years back, some mortgage brokers in our office were making over $300,000 per year. The business has cooled down somewhat,

but there is still lots of opportunity. Residential and small business sales are not going away. You create your own destiny in this business.” With some trepidation, Megan accepted the position.   She   and   Carter   agreed   that   she

already had a lot of contacts, and that she could add all of Carter’s contacts to her net- work. Megan became a certified representative for Regency on March 1, just before the peak home-buying season. She maintained a Worddiary of her networking activities; nine of her entries follow:

March 8: While getting my hair done at Chez Louise, I gave out my card to all nine women at the salon and to the owner and two other stylists. I explained to them that if any of them needed a new mortgage, or wanted to refinance, just contact me. I also told them to please refer to me anybody they heard of who wanted an original mortgage or to refinance.

March 19: I sent e-mail messages to the 50 people I knew best in my graduating class at college, informing them of my new position and explaining how I could help in finding the best mortgage for them.

April 1: I went to a large home furnishing store and started up conversations with several of the shoppers. I gave each one a card, with the same pitch about their own needs or referring to me anybody mortgage shopping.

April 17: While taking a break at Starbuck’s, I overheard a couple talking about their plansfor home ownership. I quickly introduced myself and gave the couple my business card. Unfortunately, I happened to splatter my coffee on the man’s shirt.

May 3: We had a plumbing problem with the air-conditioning unit dumping water all over the floor. The plumber was a friendly guy, so I popped him my business card just in case he was looking for a mortgage. I asked him to tell others in his plumbing company about me also. June 25: I attended a 10-year high-school reunion and gave about 50 people my card

after striking up a conversation with them.

July 1: I hit five garage sales in one day. I struck up conversations with as many people as I could and gave them my card. One lady seemed interested.

July 15: I asked dear old mom and dad to give me the names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of their ten closest friends. I contacted every one explaining how I might be able to obtain the best possible mortgage for them.

August 16: I attended the White Plains chapter of Finance Women in Business and gave my card out to 26 members. Most of the women said they were not looking for a mortgage.

After seven months of searching for sales leads through networking and some random

telephone calls, Megan had earned a total of$1,850 in commissions. Feeling discouraged and beaten down, she asked Ken for advice. Ken replied, “You are doing a good job of net- working. But remember you are just planting seeds. It will take time for you to develop a

successful mortgage broker business. Just dig into your savings to tide you over until you are making as much money as you want.

“Also, have you and Carter or your parents thought about refinancing your mortgage? You would get credit for those fees.”

Discussions Questions

  1. What is your evaluation of Megan’s net- working technique and skills?
  2. What suggestions can you offer Megan so she can develop a more useful set of leads?
  3. What is your evaluation of Megan’s political skill?
  4. What is your evaluation of Ken’s political skill?
  5. What does this case have to do with communication in organizations?

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