What are your three tips to someone wanting to become a real estate agent today?
Hi Im Rudy at Trulia, a social media guru, inspired this post with a question on Twitter last week.
My initial reaction was ‘Why would anyone want to enter the real estate sales industry today?’ but the prevailing thought became: It would be a great time to enter if you knew how to play the game with new rules and better tools.
The information below is nothing new to the experienced re.net professional, it’s meant to be a simple guide to help a new agent put their feet in the re.net pool without inundating them with too much information.
Study, Subscribe, Crowd Source, and otherwise increase your Social Networking Optimization Skillz.
Read the real estate sites indexed in my re.net tab (for starters). Look for other sites of interest from their blogrolls. Commit your favorites to an RSS Reader and read them like the daily newspaper. Track the latest news, trends and general pulse of the online real estate and mortgage community. If someone writes a post that inspires a question, comment thoughtfully and you’ll likely gain some influential friends along the way.
Once your social base membership increases you will be able to crowd source for information better than any search engine can provide. What is crowd sourcing? Leveraging mass collaboration amongst human beings to further ones knowledge and experience levels.
Enroll in social networks like Active Rain, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, doing so is a well guided, relatively easy process. If you get stuck ask someone in the community for help, there’s a high degree of altruism in these spaces.
It’s easy to get a little crazy joining new social networks, it gets even crazier trying to keep up with them all, so choose where you’re going to spend your time carefully. The communities I mention have all yielded positive returns in exchange for my time spent ‘in’ them.
Active Rain. The #1 social network for real estate and mortgage professionals. If the community does nothing else it gives a wide range of feedback, from active professionals to interested consumers, and offers good targeted marketing leverage/exposure. Most every ‘online’ real estate related professional I’ve run across has contributed to Active Rain at some point in time, it’s a great place to gain online traction.
Twitter is an enterprise class text messaging social network who’s potential upside is best described in my last post.
FaceBook is a more mature, clean version of MySpace in concept and user type. Throwing sheep, feeding a friend to a Vampire and a slew of other spamapplications argue the contrary, granted. But, Facebook also allows one to create smaller specialized ‘communities’, affiliate with specific geographic and demographic groups, and otherwise socially promote yourself and your wares for free. FaceBook can connect you with ALOT of people.
LinkedIn is a resume and networking community for professionals. If you’re looking for business, products, services and the people that provide them, LinkedIn’s ‘six degrees of separation’ community is a great place to crowd source higher level expertise and experience and even land a better job.
Join Trulia Voices and Discussions on Zillow, engage the conversations as people subsequently tend to link back to your home site, which is the goal. One thing here: answer the damn questions honestly not according to the kool-aid infused NAR psycho-babbletalk rulebook that currently dominates these sites…get in there and mix things up, you’ll stand out and win in the end.
Give away your knowledge and listings freely.
Start a blogsite by paying a service provider (there are a number of them in the RE Tech section of the re.net tab) to create a nice clean ‘home’ in cyberspace for you. Yes you can do a lot of this yourself for relatively free but thats not where you should be focusing your time. Allow the professionals to handle most of this, at least the set-up, the cost in time savings alone is worth the price tag. Don’t make the mistake of putting up an ad hoc site, it’s the first thing most people will see of ‘you’ and first impressions are important.
It wasn’t all that long ago that uttering the idea of open listing distribution outside the traditional MLS would get one tarred, feathered and hung from NAR’s flagpole. Today it’s accepted as necessary for survival. Customers want to see listings, all of them, so give them the most intuitive experience possible. Make sure your site provider has a really good IDX User Interface (UI). In other words, you want something that looks almost as good as Redfins, Zillows or Trulias User Interface to redisplay the listings in your farm area. Push your listings out to these well trafficked sites too.
Consider yourself a real estate journalist, report (blog) on your market 3 times per week. Mix it up, the stories can vary from statistical to satirical but should always tie back to relative real estate information, and enlighten to otherwise benefit your audience.
Familiarize yourself with various multi-media tools to properly market yourself and the real estate you represent, i.e. Turn Here, Real Estate Shows, even sites as simple as Flickr can help make an otherwise vanilla listing drip with sweet sizzurp. Teresa and Daniel epitomize this practice. Current agents and profound bloggers are even developing their own technologies for the benefit of all…
If you notice another professional doing a property or client an underachieving disservice, pass these tools and advice along to them. There is nothing more frustrating to a buyer and insulting to a seller than reading some boiler-plate MLS description of a property with no (or disposable camera) pictures.
The re.net community is rather ‘cliquish’ and protective of their own. Differentiating yourself with novel opinion is one thing, personally attacking someone for your benefit will get you ostracized in the greater community. It should also go without saying that plagiarism is stealing and will get you ‘rubbed out’ too. Never copy someone’s work without permission or proper citing.
Don’t expect instant success. Building an audience takes time, at least 3-6 months.
A good blogsite provider will build you a site that innately optimizes your content for the search engines. Many SEO pundits (trust me, you’ll run in to them) will have you chasing your tail focusing on template style (= boring) writing. You can’t ‘game the system’, trying to do so is often called ‘black hat’ or ‘grey hat’ tactics and will likely get your site penalized. The best SEO advice anyone can give centers around composing well written, compelling, relevant content and producing it with consistency. The rest will take care of itself.
The SEO related sites I link too in my re.net index are there because they’ve proven to spur the creative writing juices and address the basic do’s and do nots very well.
The time you spend trying to keep up with SEO tactics is time better spent researching your market data, trends and other far more interesting content to provide your readership and subsequent clients.
Always remember, you should be building an audience not fishing for ‘traffic’.
Don’t call yourself Realtor.
Sorry, but it’s the truth. Call yourself a licensed practitioner of the real estate arts, marketing guru for real property, property pimp, or whatever. The name Realtor creates strong feelings of aversion in the mind of a consumer, and the NAR doesn’t like anyone using the word very much anyway.
Drop the confusing acronyms. I get these visions in my head of local NAR meetings where Realtors wear their uniforms with patches and beads sown on, like in boy (or girl) scouts.
Distance yourself from traditional real estate economics. I’m not saying charge less, I am saying charge whatever you charge, just have it make sense to the consumer.
Don’t put your picture on biz cards or the front page of your website. People can be shallow, jealous and unforgiving…propping your face up for all to see may be deemed pretentious, too pretty/ugly, or doesn’t look enough like you (so you’re lying). One of the (many) things I took away from the 4RealzEd.com seminar was Jim Marks demonstrating via a real client example, where simply removing an agents mug from the front page of the website caused a substantially higher click-through rate.
It’s not personal, but its hard for a few good apples to un-spoil the bunch. For every Jay Thompson, Kris Berg and Teresa Boardman there are a hundred clowns out there insuring the name Realtor elicits a furrowed brow and curled lip on the face of the consumer status-quo. Imitation is the sincerest form of a compliment, it’s OK to try and emulate what these good folk are doing, the industry is better because of people like them, which leads to:
Pay it forward
For too long the real estate industry has been in competition with itself.
Scarcity breeds scarcity, the bigger you give the bigger you get. Help out other agents that didn’t get the love you got and make the entire industry a better place than when you arrived.