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Are You Connecting to Your Community?

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Connecting to Others

I love Twitter, Linkedin, ooVoo, and Facebook as ways to connect with those around me! These applications have allowed me to connect with real estate agents all across the United States, Canada, and parts unknown. It was great, getting open, honest feedback from agents not in my market area. All of a sudden, I am reading about best practices, ways to advertise, other points of view, great technology to use, and so much more.

In March of this year, I noticed something. Despite having these great real estate connections, I have very few local ones. I realized I needed to incorporate these tools in to my practice to find clients, since we all know “real estate is local.” Spending time on these tools were great, however they were not bringing me any business.

What is an agent to do?

One of the first things to change and implement, connect with local folks on Twitter, not to sell them, but to get to know them. I started searching Twitter for people who lived in communities in my metropolitan area of Columbus, Ohio. Then I narrowed my search for my home town, Delaware, Ohio. Ironically, the only other Twitter user was a real estate agent (just my luck!). Then I moved out to communities with in a 20 mile radius. This started working, suddenly I was connecting with new friends in the area and talking about Central Ohio, what we do, getting together and yes, real estate.

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This is great for new friends, however, is there more?

Yes, there is! If you are using social media, odds are your family, friends you lost contact with; old colleagues may be using it too! My search turned to phrases to find people from high school, marching band (yes I was a “band geek” if ya have sumtin to say about it allow me to remind you I am 6’ 4” and 270 lbs! ;^) ), alumni from drum & bugle corps I marched with, friends from former employers, and old summer camp acquaintances. The list goes on and on and on!

Wow, it’s been forever. What are YOU doing?

Suddenly, my contacts are growing exponentially. People I had not spoken with for over 15 years are connecting with me and each has the same question, “What are you doing?!?!?” What a great segway to passively tell them, “Hey, I sell real estate!”

DO NOT HAVE A STANDARD RESPONSE!

When I start connecting with family and old friends, I do not use a canned response. These are people I want to reconnect with first and foremost, catch up with, and get reacquainted. They do deserve more. With that said, I usually start off telling them about my wife and son, age’s, plus any major life changes we have made (like starting kindergarten), where I am living, mutual friends I’m in contact with, and any news (try to stay way from gossip) of folks we have not heard from. Then, moving on to my career just becomes a natural part of the conversation. I tell them I am a real estate agent working for Minister Realty. I do not try to solicit a sale, a listing appointment, or referrals. That conversation will come up organically in later conversations. Remember, you are connecting with people that were once a part of your life in some way. Have a reunion and do not be a salesperson.

What’s the effect?

In most cases, by the 2nd or 3rd contact you may find out that “We are looking to buy a house” or “My parents want to move,” or even “We just bought a home 3 months ago.” If you do receive the latter response, its ok, life happens and we can not sell to everyone. Hopefully, you will receive one of the former responses, but if not, give it time. Not only have you connected with an old friend, you now have a potential client. At that point, let them know you will always give them superior customer service.

How are you connecting with family, old friends and co-workers?

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Genuine Chris Johnson

    September 24, 2008 at 11:20 am

    to what end though, man.

    Is it a fun distraction from doing real work? I’m talking about the RE.net, more than old friends.

  2. Chris Shouse

    September 24, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Rocky that is a great way to connect with friends from the past and meet new ones. Thanks for reminding me there are more ways to connect than sending out postcards.

  3. Rachel

    September 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Don’t forget that social media tools are usually free (other than the time you spend) and don’t use environmental resources like traditional print media most realtors use. 🙂

  4. Ben Goheen

    September 24, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve been noticing the same thing lately, all my twitter friends are Realtors. I have to ask – what drum corps did you marched with? I’m an alumni and have recently connected with a lot of former members on Facebook.

  5. Chris de Jong

    September 24, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Great article Rocky, I know exactly where you are coming from when you mention local connections. I personally started using Twitter in order to connect to my friends and colleagues but soon started adding members of our local tech community.

    One thing led to another, and now we have a great community and are even holding a city-wide BarCamp tomorrow! 🙂

    @Genuine Chris – As far as being a “fun distraction” from work, leveraging services like Rocky mentioned are entirely what you make of them. Sure, it is fun to send random links and pictures of lolcats to everyone, but I know many people (myself included) that have used social media to help them build their RE business – be it meeting new customers or increasing your exposure.

  6. Rocky VanBrimmer

    September 24, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Chris, there are many ways to interact with people you meet on social media. However you can not go in to it thinking you are going to “sell them” and they will use you, just because. The great thing about web 2.0 is the “block” button. You can control what you see. I will be going in to ways to connect and interact with 2 follow pieces on this.

    Chris, I have a post boiling about old school and new skool real estate. Great point.

    Rachel, EVERYONE loves FREE!

    Ben, I marched Limited Edition in Columbus Ohio, Dutchboy from Kitchner/Waterloo Ontario, and Bluecoats in Canton Ohio.

    Chris, someone just recommended an RE Barcamp in Ohio. As well, love your point to my good friend Chris!

  7. Toby & Sadie

    September 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    I’m going to back Rocky on this one. There is more ways to skin the perverbeal client.

    Is Web 2.0 a great way to connect with people? Yes. Is it just as easy to miss the mark and waste your time and efforts? Yes.

    I am not good (yet) at social media networking, but sitting for an hour with Rocky and it becomes obvious that he has a plan. I’m developing mine, not there yet but soon.

  8. Rocky

    September 24, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    So says the one person from Delaware Ohio on Twitter! LOL, Thanks Toby!

  9. Paula Henry

    September 24, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Rocky – I just had an old friend connect with me today on Facebook. I do need to keep up with the Twitter crowd in my area, though.Thanks for the motivation!

  10. Genuine Chris Johnson

    September 24, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    There is a part of 2.0 that is highschoolish and cliqueish. People feel offended when they have bad ideas & bad plans you attack, and get all huffy. That is the part I can do without. I don’t monetize people, but I do want to extract recreation and value from what I do online.

  11. Lisa Sanderson

    September 25, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Rocky: Good point about connecting with locals-this is something I’ve been *trying* to work on. Tweetdeck makes it kind of easy by letting you set up feeds based on keywords. I find it helpful in spotting potential new friends on twitter without a huge amount of searching. Haven’t figured out how to automate that on facebook yet. Also, I’ve reconnected w/a few high school people too…unfortunately it was through myspace bleh.

  12. Tim McDonald

    September 25, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Rocky,
    As we initially hooked up on Twitter (as realtors) I have been able to take some great ques from you and this article hits it on the head. I have been asking myself, as I get started, how do I find more local connections? While I’ve experimented a little, you provide some great options to “meet and greet” others in the local area without them all being realtors.

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