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Opinion Editorials

When Life Happens, Refer Them Out

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Life Happens

It can be one of the most difficult and agonizing decisions we make. And unfortunately, all too many times, we’re simply not ‘aware’ that a decision needs to be made.

Let’s face it, we’re human, and we’re all susceptible to those traumatic events in life – situations which paralyze our judgment, drain our energy, or otherwise hinder us from diligently representing our client’s best interests.

These events are different for each us, we all have varying thresholds of endurance.

A sudden death in the family. An debilitating illness. Financial woes. Marital stress or divorce.

Doing our ‘Rocky’ impression

We rarely go down without a fight. We compel ourselves to buckle up and persevere. We’re used to adversity, we embrace challenge, it runs in our blood. And so we convince ourselves to keep moving forward, and to ignore the signs.

Tell Tale Signs

It typically starts out with something small and basic – an unreturned phone call, or a task uncompleted. An seemingly innocent mistake, for sure, but certainly out of character for how we normally conduct our business. Maybe next, we’re late for an appointment, or we miss a deadline on some project. We begin to lose our focus, and eventually, our drive.

Ignorance isn’t Bliss

Our inability to recognize that it’s time to call in the cavalry can cost us clients, revenue, and hard-earned reputation.

Tough Times demand Tough Questions

When you experience these major traumatic ‘Life Happening’ circumstances, take a moment to evaluate your current book. How many clients am I presently working with? Where are we in the process? Can I honestly handle the workload, and represent their interests fully? Does it make sense to refer them out to someone else? How long will this current circumstance affect my production? What can I do now to improve my situation, and work towards full capacity?

These are really tough questions. And unfortunately, all too many times we aren’t willing to confront or address the issue early on, and simply try to avoid it until our business self-destructs.

25% of Something beats 100% of Nothing

‘Life Happens’ to all of us. None of us are exempt. But we can control how we respond to difficulties, so that our business remains intact, and our valued clients receive the treatment they deserve!

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.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Jessica Beganski

    September 20, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I recently almost had a transaction with an agent who went on vacation for two weeks and had about 30 listings at once.

    I say almost because she didn’t have an assistant, a team or even a broker who knew anything about her listings. Her approach seemed to be “if it sells, it sells.” I gave her way more opportunties then I normally would to allow her to be a decent agent – return calls, answer questions, respond to the offer in a timely manner, etc. but she was so overwhelmed she just couldn’t do it.

    So, my buyer and I were so frustrated we just walked away. If I ever have a deal with her again, I’ll prep my clients…what agents don’t always realize is that word of mouth also applies to other agents.

  2. Broker Bryant

    September 20, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Rich, I can certainly relate to this post. I have been struggling for several weeks now to squeeze my business in between personal issues. I’ve managed to hand pick a few deals for myself but have referred out far more. We just do what we have to do and if we are not in a position to service the consumer the way we should then we MUST refer then out.

  3. Elaine Reese

    September 20, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Well, this is very timely for me as well. Of course, not nearly of the severity of BB as he cares for TLW.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    September 21, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Rich – This certainly hits home for me as this summer was full of a lot of ups and downs for me personally. I had just gotten a license was trying to get my feet wet and one after another, a string of unrelated events kept coming at me.

    Because of this I feel better equipped to handle the same sort of things when I’ve got a boatload of clients to work for. I know when I’ve got “too much on my plate” with career and personal and know when to step back and call in the cavalry for assistance.

    Seeing it in print always drives the issue home for me though, so I’m glad you wrote this and shared your thoughts.

  5. Missy Caulk

    September 21, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Rich, this is one of the reasons I have a TEAM, we cover for each other. I have found in my experience that other agents just don’t take as good of care for your clients as you and they expect.

    We all need help at times, and we can’t possibly be available 24/7.

    Last year when Allyssa had her car wreck, I had no worries, my team completely took over. This year one of my team members dad was in U M Hospitals for 6 weeks and we covered for her,

  6. Holli Boyd

    September 22, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I subscribe to this theory – not only when things get crazy in my personal life (and things always seem to be crazy!) but when I get referrals or leads to areas outside of my own local area. With the price of gas it just makes more sense for me to work in one area – to know it inside and out – and to let the other people fight over the rest of the capital district. I recently referred a buyer client who found me online to another agent in my office – it was a hard decision because she was looking in the 500-600k range. However, the area she was looking in was 45 minutes from where I work and the woman I referred her to lives and works there. It made sense – 25% of something is better then 0% of nothing is right! Because I have so many internet leads and refer all of those outside of my area out I have been getting many leads back from agents in kind. So I only work with the leads I want and I am not overwhelmed with travel and clients who I can’t service well. I highly recommend it! Thanks for another great AG article – it’s my favorite site for networking with other agents and I learn something daily!

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen overnight

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Minimalism doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything this instant – you can get similar benefits from starting on smaller spaces.

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Minimal desk with laptop, cup, books, and plant.

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix with Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in 2019. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1. Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2. Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3. Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

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Opinion Editorials

Your goals are more complicated than generalized platitudes, and that’s okay

(OPINION / EDITORIALS) When the tough times get going, “one size fits all” advice just won’t cut it. Your goals are more specific than the cookie cutter platitudes.

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Split paths in the forest like goals - general advice just doesn't fit.

‘Saw.’ – “Vulgar, uneducated wisdom based in superstition”, according to the good volunteer compilers at Wikipedia. See also: ‘aphorism’, ‘platitude’, and ‘entrepreneurial advice’. I’m not saying there’s no good advice for anyone anymore, that’s plain not true. SMART Goals are still relevant, there’s a plethora of cheaper, freeer, more easily accessible tutorials online, and consensus in April-ville is that Made to Stick is STILL a very helpful book.

But when I hear the same ‘pat on the head’ kind of counsel that I got as a kid presented by a serious institution and/or someone intending on being taken seriously by someone who isn’t their grade school-aged nephew, I roll my eyes. A lot.

“Each failure is an opportunity!” “Never give up!” “It’s not how many times you fall!”, yeah, okay, that’s all lovely. And it IS all very true. My issue is… These sunshiney saws? They’re not very specific. And just like a newspaper horoscope, they’re not meant to be (not that I’ll stop reading them).

Example: You’ve been jiggling the rabbit ears of your SEO for months, to no avail. No one’s visiting your site, there’ve been no calls, and the angel investor cash is starting to dip closer to falling from heaven with each passing day.

Does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you use your last bit of cash to take on an expert?

Or does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you go back to R&D and find out that no one actually WANTED your corncob scented perfume to begin with; algorithm tweaking and Demeter Fragrances be damned?

This is the thing about both your goals you make and the guidance you take—they have to be specific. I’m not saying your parents can put a sock in it or anything. I’m thrilled that I’m part of a family that’ll tell me to keep on keeping on. But as far as serious, practical input goes… One size fits all just leaves too much room for interpretation.

When you’re stuck, behind, or otherwise at odds with your growth, are you asking the right questions? Are you sure of what the problem actually is? Do you know whether it’s time to give up a failure of a business and ‘keep pushing’ in the sense of starting another one, or whether you’ve got a good thing on hand that needs you to ‘never say die’ in the sense of giving it more tweaking and time?

No one should have stagnant goals. A pool of gross sitting water is only attractive to mosquitoes and mold. ‘I wanna be rich’ as your business’s raison d’être is a setup for a story about the horrors of literal-minded genies, not an intention you can actually move upon. But that doesn’t mean you need to go hard the other way and get lost in a nebulous fog of easily-published aphorisms.

To be fair, it’s not as if saying ‘Ask the right questions’ is exponentially more helpful than your average feel-good refreshment article, since… This editorial column doesn’t know you or what pies you have your fingers in. But if I can at least steer you away from always running towards the overly general and into an attempt at narrowing down what your real problems are, I’ll consider this a job well done.

Save saws for building community tables.

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