5 Areas You Can’t Afford to Overlook

Two Inman Ambassadors share their best advice on networking, social media and technology

By Michael Antoniak

Each year Inman honors a select group of influencers for their vision and commitment to promote professionalism in real estate through training, education and personal enthusiasm.

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The 2015 Class of Inman Ambassadors includes two RE/MAX representatives: Valerie Garcia – Director of Training for more than 17,000 agents in the RE/MAX Integra Regions – and Bret Calltharp – Business Development Specialist and adviser to more than 500 agents at RE/MAX Metro Vancouver Properties in Vancouver, British Columbia. Both are members of the RE/MAX Socialites group on Facebook.

Valerie Garcia
Valerie Garcia

The two were among the featured participants at this year’s Real Estate Connect conference in New York. After the event, they took time to share their thoughts on networking, technology and the conference for readers of ABOVE. Here are some of their tips and insights to inform and help empower you in your career.

  1. Professional networking: Find your tribe

For all the changes technology has wrought, real estate remains a career built on personal relationships.

State to state, region to region, the real estate industry does a great job teaching people how to get their license, notes Calltharp. “What they don’t teach you is how to be a Realtor.”

For that, he says, look to peers. “Find your tribe” of like-minded agents and brokers, he urges. Establish and maintain a dialogue with mentors and agents outside your area

“The best way to start is head to a convention, walk around and have those conversations,” Calltharp says. “Agents there, like you, are investing in themselves and want to do better.”

The RE/MAX Web Roster can also be a good place to begin. “Search for RE/MAX (members) with similar interests, and get in touch,” he suggests. “You already have something in common, and if they are passionate about their career they’ll want to share their experiences and learn from yours.”

Take a cue from clients, too. “Whatever market you’re in, find out where people are relocating from, and contact agents there,” he says. “Get to know them, stay in touch and build a relationship,” which will lead to referrals, back and forth.

“Whenever you can show other agents your enthusiasm it becomes infectious.”

  1. Social media: Get excited! Others will, too

“The biggest misconception about social media is you need to be everywhere, and on every new platform,” observes Garcia.

“My big mantra is to pick the ones you’re personally excited about and concentrate on those. If you’re not excited, don’t do it.”

Because it’s so popular, Facebook is the logical place to begin. Efforts there can be complemented on other platforms: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Medium and Linked-in.

“Wherever you choose to be, consistency is key,” she adds. “Whether you choose to update daily or weekly, set expectations when people will see something new from you on a regular basis, and keep to them.”

Focus on more than just real estate and listings, and be sure to monitor reactions. “You need to be the same person on the social networks as you are in real life.”

Keep track of what connects and what misses the mark. Revise your social strategy accordingly. “When people respond, you know it’s working,” Garcia observes. “But if you have 500 friends and no one comments or shares your posts, it’s time to step back and reconsider what you’re doing.”

  1. Personal branding: Deliver quality content that demonstrates your expertise

Whether people meet you online or offline, the quality of information you provide can turn prospects into your buyer or seller. Garcia encourages agents to “create original content – a body of work which lives somewhere and you can push to social media or distribute,” as a way of demonstrating professional expertise.

Bret Calltharp
Bret Calltharp

Stuck for ideas? Take cues from people you know, advises Calltharp. “Ask 10 friends what are the top things they’d Google about real estate, and you’ll have something to write about for months,” he suggests. Put together PDFs on the most popular topics, promote them on social media, and invite people to download them from your site as a way of generating traffic and interest.

Complement your online strategy with offline events, which shape perceptions you are the local real estate expert. “Host a seminar for first-time buyers or empty nesters where you can meet people and they can see the value you offer,” Calltharp says.

“Whatever you do, just be genuine. Give people useful information they won’t find elsewhere.”

  1. Technology: Only use what you’ll use

Evaluate technology, and all it entails, as a means to boost productivity and provide more responsive service. “Technology without a plan is just a shiny distraction,” Calltharp says. “You should be asking yourself, ‘How will this actually help me do more business?’ If you can’t see how something will benefit you or your clients, you don’t need it.”

For today’s agent, mobility is the key. A connected device – smartphone, tablet or notebook – is absolutely essential for working with buyers and sellers, on their terms and at their convenience.

Beyond that, Garcia recommends a CRM system for keeping track of clients and activity. And and app like Evernote is essential, too. “It allows you to stay organized and be paperless,” she explains. “It can really change how you work.”

Calltharp’s top recommendations: Any type of personal organizer; a paperless workflow; and a CRM system, as well. Before you commit to any of these tools, take time to make sure they’re a good match for how you work. “The best system is the one you’ll actually use,” he notes.

Beyond the smartphone, Garcia likes the iPad, or any tablet, for its mobile productivity. “But if you have to choose between a laptop or tablet, you’re probably better off starting with the laptop,” for the full-size power and convenience of the keyboard and screen, she advises.

  1. Virtual tours: Show and say more with less

With online tours so vital for promoting listings, there’s one piece of hardware Garcia recommends to agents who record their own videos: a professional quality, auxiliary microphone. “You see so many good videos today where the sound is horrible,” she explains. “The audio needs to be the same quality as the image.”

And, less is more, in terms of run time. “Ninety seconds is usually enough to give people an idea of moving from room to room, and that’s what they want from video,” she observes.

As far as photos, buyers can never see too many good pictures of a home. The one enhancement she believes would benefit most online tours is a floor plan.

“There’s no better way to give people an idea of the layout of a home and the flow from room to room,” she says. “It’s an underused marketing tool I would love to see more agents embrace.”

Get Garcia’s and Calltharp’s Quick Tips.

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Would you have any idea for floor plans. I have Magic Plan, but I find it pretty difficult to use, so I just don’t. Is there anything less complicated out there? Nicki Ayoub, RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC., Montreal QC Canada

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