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How the Internet Delivered me From a Lifetime of Mediocrity

I’ve had my share of luck in my life, most of it good luck, so generally I live with an expectation that things will almost always get better. In my wildest dreams I never would have expected the whole world to change to accommodate me, but it did.

Even in the early stages of my real estate career I felt I was a good agent. I was technically proficient; I understood the importance of business systems, client service, follow-up, a positive attitude, professionalism and much of the other stuff that makes a good real estate agent good.

I had my share of weaknesses as well and naivety topped the list. I had this crazy idea that everyone I knew would soon be calling for expert assistance in buying or selling a home. It hadn’t occurred to me that those who knew me best also knew that I was greener than green and they might be a little hesitant to trust me with one of their most important investments.

I quickly learned that “prospecting” was another of my weaknesses. My most recent work experience was in broadcast sales where I had a list of “clients” who expected to hear from me. I was always pretty comfortable calling people at the office when I wanted to develop a new account but the idea of cold calling into people’s homes, or knocking on their door unannounced wasn’t working for me. The thought of soliciting private sellers and previously expired listings was even less appealing. I will most certainly starve to death before I ever call into a stranger’s home, without an introduction, to solicit their business. I probably should have failed.

I poured money into advertising with limited results, held some open houses with some success, and worked hard to keep in touch with my “sphere of influence” using traditional methods like newsletters and calendars. After a couple of years, and before I had completely depleted my savings some referrals started to come and I managed to keep my head above water. Still, I was living from one paycheck to the next and just managing to keep the bills paid. It was a life of mediocrity to say the least, and I knew that only I was standing in the way of my own success. Why couldn’t I pick up that damned phone or knock on a few doors?
I’m sure that it was “creative avoidance” that was behind my interest in computers. It was something that I could rely on to get in the way of those prospecting activities and I used it to the fullest spending countless hours organizing my business and my “client base.”

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If I was interested in computers, I was totally swept away by my discovery of the Internet and before long, I was spending several hours online each day, exploring and learning. I read everything I could find about real estate and how the business was about to change. There wasn’t much out there at the time, but all that I read convinced me that I could find a way to get ahead of the changes that were coming. I had found a passion for the business and I found it in a place that nobody else in my market was looking.

I won’t bore you with the details of how my small team and I came to dominate the online real estate world in my area. 🙂 I will say that every minute that I spent with a computer was a valuable one that paid off in spades. The hours that I “wasted” online have ultimately brought me more business than I ever expected I might be involved in.

I’ve come to love my prospecting time. We don’t make cold calls. We don’t knock on doors. We don’t go anywhere without an invitation. Instead, I write it, they read it, and we discuss it. Often we come to know each other and end up working together. As far as I’m concerned there is no better way to prospect, but then, I’m hardly an authority on prospecting.

I’m a lucky guy. After all, the world literally changed to accommodate me.

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, 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.



  1. Paula Henry

    July 22, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Norm – I, too have spent endless hours studying what works, how others have accomplished what i want to and how to rise above mediocrity. BTW – that’s me at the front door, hoping no one will answer 🙂

    Please do bore me with the details!

  2. Chuck G

    July 22, 2008 at 8:17 am


    I hate to be the one to break this to you, but your blog is a waste of time. They don’t work. But don’t worry, mine doesn’t work either. And the blogs of the thousands of other AG readers aren’t worth the virtual paper that they’re printed on.

    My opinion? Of course not. But it IS the opinion of no less that PropertyMinder, one of the leading agent websites. Check this out:

    So after you finish replying back to those 5 leads you just picked up from your blog, be sure to make it a top priority to shut your blog down today, and stop trying to creatively use the internet to increase your business.

    …because it doesn’t work. After all, I read it online 🙂

  3. Bill Lublin

    July 22, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Norm; There is no substitute for doing something – whatever that is. As Seneca sai,”Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. ” Or something like that.
    Looks like you might have met anopportunity 😉

  4. Norm Fisher

    July 22, 2008 at 9:20 am


    I think there’s a bit of that in all of us.


    Yes, but the blog doesn’t slam the door in my face or hang up a phone in my ear.


    Exactly what I was thinking as I thought about Chuck’s comment, and to be clear, I don’t mean to “knock” other forms of prospecting. Like you, I believe that anything can work with sufficient effort, determination and a desire to get better at it. These are things that I was personally not able to muster for door knocking and cold calling.

    The biggest producer in my office does very little online marketing but she’s an absolute star in the open house arena. She does a few each week and rarely leaves without a new client. I know another big producer in another office who still thrives on door knocking. If she has 15 minutes to burn, she does it on someone’s doorstep. All the power to them.

    For me, the irony lies in the fact that I found something I enjoy, that works for me, while attempting to avoid those things I hated. At the time, I’m sure my broker had told me I would not succeed without doing them.

  5. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Norm – visited your blog and truly like it and the information you have posted there, it shows you are knowledgeable about your market area.

    Probably the big reason for your success with online marketing – you enjoy and rarely experience the in the face or in the ear rejection.

    I really liked your graphics with the statistics.

  6. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Forgot to close the blockquote, like Dan Connolly in another post said – wish there was an edit function here. 🙂

  7. Norm Fisher

    July 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks Glenn. Those graphics are easy to do if you use Photoshop or PS Elements. Start with any photo as your background layer. Add a new white layer, and then lower the opacity till you like what you see. Stack your text on top of it.

  8. Justin in Kauai

    July 22, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    It’s good to hear there’s other people out there with the same passion as me about learning on the Internet. I went to college and majored in Geology. After I got out of school, I realized I wasn’t really that interested in rocks. But the web was awesome, and I’ve learned everything I know about marketing online. There’s a wealth of information there for anybody willing to learn.

  9. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Norm – I PS Elements and working to get a good handle on it. Thanks for giving me the steps you have used. Right now my graphs are all excel generated and finished in PS Elements. Will try playing with tomorrow.

  10. Vicki Moore

    July 22, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I certainly can relate to what you’re saying. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  11. Joel Ives

    July 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Justin, you should have went to school for Googeology instead of Geology. Google is by far the best way to prospect for customers but it has a lot of variables to it and a steep learning curve. Good luck to everyone.

  12. Michelle Berry

    July 25, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Norm, you are totally singing my song in this post. I read it a couple days ago and went on a profile setting up/beefing up binge all over the ‘nets. You have given me a much needed shot of inspiration! I’ve been blogging for a fair amount of time, on some social networking sites, and had sat in one of Nick Bostic’s classes a few weeks back. At that time I timidly dipped my toe in the pool of social networking, but really stepped it up this week. Low and behold, yesterday I received my first lead from my new efforts. So Norm, you officially rock!

  13. Norm Fisher

    July 25, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Michelle.

    You rock, cause you did the work. Way to go! Thanks so much for dropping back to let me know of your success. Let’s get to work on the next one. 🙂

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