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It’s All About Me – Again

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Aaron Dickinson reminded me of something that always leaves me a little let down. The end of the transaction.

We work extremely closely with our clients, spending a great deal of time with them. We learn about their families, jobs, finances, personal preferences, even their favorite tv shows. We’re creating a relationship, a bond, a trust.

In order to find just the right house, we need to know if they like to garden. Do they have a dog? Big dog? Inside or outside dog? What do they do for a living? How far will they be commuting? Or do they need a home/office? Maybe they bring home a work vehicle. Do they cook and have a lot of gadgets? Do they prefer a gas or electric stove? Do they have one car or two? Have they purchased/sold a home before? Do they enjoy the negotiation process or is it going to keep them up all night? The questions go on and on. Why?

Realtors always have a dilemma: are we providing to much information or not enough? It’s important for the client to be educated, not overwhelmed. They should be comfortable in making decisions, know they’re in control of the process and understand what’s happening and why, know what’s normal for a purchase or sale, and know what the options are in each situation.

We’ve got the criteria. The next challenge begins. Now we have to put it into a tangible property in the right price range, location and condition. That house isn’t always available. We’ve gotten to know the client and now it becomes a concern of them becoming disappointed. We want them to not only be happy with our services but be happy with the process. If they see too many houses they don’t like, it becomes discouraging and frustrating.

We find the one. We review the disclosures and there’s something unappealing about them. Nope, it’s not the one. The process starts all over. By now I know them even better. We’re a team. We’re working toward a common goal. The stakes are really high. If I make a blooper now, it could ruin all the trust I’ve worked so hard to build. And the client is out all of the time and commitment they’ve invested believing that I could do the job for them.

Right from the beginning, I’m fighting an uphill battle. I have to prove that I’m not the same as Aunt Patty’s realtor in Florida who cheated her out of her life savings.

So back to shopping we go. We find the right home. It’s the one they’ve always wanted. The inspections and disclosures are great. Friends and family come by to give their approval. Now I’ll really be a jerk if I screw it up.

We get the appraisal. No problem. Loan documents arrive at the title company. We sit at the table together while they sign them. A few days later, they’re proud, happy home owners holding the keys to their dream. Their new life is off and running.

What about me? I don’t get to see or talk to them several times a week. I lose track of their every day life. Yes, I call to catch up, but it’s not the same. So I’ve gotten quite sneaky. I make them my friends. That way I can call whenever I want, drag them to dinner or a movie, go to the dog park, birthday parties, baseball games. I have to say, it’s worked out quite well.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Mariana Wagner

    October 23, 2007 at 4:57 am

    Nice one! We DO work so hard to build a relationship with our clients. We become an intricate part of their lives … until closing. I hate breaking up as much as the next guy. So, I love to make my clients my friends as well, because you never need an excuse to call a friend.

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 23, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    As a guy I can say it is no different for me. My clients are everything to me, it’s personal, it’s not about a commission, it’s about winning for them. They see this, know this, live this for the life of a transaction and suddenly it’s over- they’re moved in and the need for you is very small. So you have two choices, 1 get dumped and it’s over, or 2, you do exactly what you described- you make friends. Golf, football, bbqs, whatever- I can honestly say some of my clients have become by greatest friends, many others have become friends of my wife, but one thing is for sure, my life is richer because of them, our relationships go far beyond that of a commission.

  3. Jeremy Hart

    October 23, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    I agree, I’ve been so fortunate to see customers become clients, and clients become friends. Just this week I’ve had lunch with one client-become-friend, golf with another, and then some weekend fun with another. One of the benefits that CAN’T be valued in this business is the opportunity to influence lives, and have yours influenced, by these relationships. Great job Vicki!

  4. Vicki Moore

    October 23, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    It’s one of the best parts of the job. I was calling them client-friends, but I’ve dropped the client part. Somehow the people I don’t like know it and they fire me.

  5. Athol Kay

    October 24, 2007 at 4:44 am

    >>Somehow the people I don’t like know it and they fire me.

    That’s a whole post right there.

  6. Vicki Moore

    October 24, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Ooooo Athol! Thanks for the direction. I’ll put that together!

  7. Athol Kay

    October 24, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    I do what I can. 🙂

  8. Vicki Moore

    October 24, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    You’re the best!

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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