Mirror, mirror, on the wall…
In having changed offices recently, I’ve been doing a bit of self-reflection. What has worked, what hasn’t. Where I should refocus and where I need to reinvest my efforts. What I believe in and what I would tell someone I learned so far. I haven’t been an agent for eons, but because of the slow market, I think I was at an advantage…I had time on my side and an eager willingness to learn.
When I started, I dove in with almost reckless abandon. I was never reckless with the clients, but with my thoughts, theories, and ideas – I listened, took chances, and said to hell with some of the things I was being told. I took in wisdom and advice from those with more experience, but also listened with hesitancy. I didn’t want to learn just the “old way” – I wanted to learn the “new way” and combine it with the practical and sensible from the age old real estate principles. Obviously, I aligned myself with many of you that come here. I saw something I understood, was comfortable with, and wanted to see become more prevalent in the industry. The idea that technology and open-source style ideas weren’t a nuisance or detriment to our business. That online social interaction can bring about meaningful real life interaction. That cutting edge tools and off beat ideas can lead to some of the great discoveries that lead to meaningful change in the industry.
Things I’ve learned.
If you want to be part of something, you have to join in. When I first read AgentGenius, something spoke to me in those posts. I knew there were people out there that wanted more out of real estate than just commission checks. I discovered people that spoke geek (some more than others) and I could get along with. I even found some of them to have musical tastes that were right in line with my own. But, I sat there…admiring them, listening and learning. One day, I spoke up. Not long after I was invited to join AgentGenius as a regular writer. Had I never taken my first step to join the discussion, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Quality over quantity. I guess I learned this years ago really. My mom used to always tell me, my teachers did, and so did the many cooks I worked under in my days in the food industry. Whether it’s followers on Twitter, friends on Facebook, blog posts, agents that I count as friends, referral network agents, or houses I list; the rule still applies. Make what you do quality and make those around you accountable to that quality. If they don’t want to play the game your way, cut them loose. You don’t need dead weight pulling you down.
Fail early and fail often. Failure is an option.
If your broker isn’t there, you don’t have a broker. If your broker speaks to you only through memos and a company newsletter, you might as well not have a broker. A broker should be around and available. If not, you might as well be let lose on the world without a clue. Your broker should be there to help you, guide you, and encourage you. A broker should be experienced and knowledgeable, but still open to suggestion. If they’re not, find a new one. Do it sooner rather than later.
Make good friends with someone you think is awesome. Sounds obvious, right? Have someone you know you can call late at night when you’re not feeling like you can keep going. Know that they’ll be your support when you need it most. Look for someone who wants nothing more than for you to be successful. They’re out there. Trust me on that one.
Don’t be afraid to be wrong. You should try to avoid being wrong when it comes to a client’s transaction, but when you’re discussing theories, new ideas, or possible business practices – make mistakes. Say something stupid in front of those agents with god-like reputations. Let them correct you. Don’t get offended…learn.
Listen in before you butt in. I encourage interaction earlier, but make sure you “know” something about the people involved before you start yapping at them. Jeff Turner is a great example. I knew his name, but I didn’t know who he was or what he did. I listened to him. Once I figured out enough about him to be comfortable, I asked him a few questions. He responded. We talked and I felt enlightened when I came away. I’m afraid to meet the man, because he might blow my mind. In fact, a lot of what we talked about was listening to the conversation around you. If I had just jumped into conversation with him on day one, he might not have responded with interest.
Don’t be anyone but yourself. I don’t think you should show up with Slayer pouring out of your stereo and your favorite beer in hand to a showing, but don’t be afraid to be personal. I have clients who have seen my tattoos, listened to my records, and know my favorite beer. That didn’t happen on day one, but as we formed a relationship we built up trust and talked about things outside of real estate. Trust and comfort go hand in hand. If your clients are comfortable with you and trust you, your business will be easier, more fun, and go further than one transaction.
Surround yourself with positivity. Don’t surround yourself with false positivity. If the market crashes tomorrow, don’t call me and tell me how wonderful real estate is. Don’t lie. To your clients or yourself. What I am saying is that if everyone you work with is crying and saying “this is too hard” you might want to consider a change of venue. I don’t like the sunshine and roses approach to real estate that some agents preach. “Now is a good time to buy” can grate on my nerves. Be truthful, but don’t get mired down in the gutter by thinking everything is negative. If you don’t like your situation there is only one thing you can do about it – change it.
Read AgentGenius. Ok, so you think I’m just doing a bit of butt-kissing here. Go ahead and think it, but you can thank me later. When a site exists with the intent to encourage, support, question, and argue; you need to pay attention. An open forum with different opinions there is no “company line” here. The day Benn and Lani tell me I don’t fit into their “mold” I’m out of here. You’ve got a little bit of everything here – humor, new agents (that’s me), fact, news, opinion, discussion, dissension, community, and life lessons. If you can’t learn something here each week or find something to comment and discuss on, you’re not reading the posts.
Connect the dots. The greatest thing I’ve learned to do in the past year is to “connect the dots.” Lani taught me this the best. When I started here, she spent a lot of time introducing me to a lot of you and people outside of here. I watched her do it for me, then continued to watch her do it every day on Twitter and in emails. Lani sees an important aspect of each person and inter-relates them. She is a connector. As I watched her, I started to see connections myself. Now I am connecting people in my local community that may have never crossed paths. Being the connector puts you in the position to network without the handshake and “Hello, my name is…” tag on your shirt. Just practice it when you can…you’ll see. If it wasn’t for Lani, I might not have ever met Kristin Moran and I probably wouldn’t be at the office I am now.
Nothing ground breaking in there.
A little common sense and thinking out loud really. I hope some of the newer agents will read through it and see something they might be missing. It’s not easy being “new” at times. I’d love to see some thoughts on what the more experienced agents learned when they started. Not the “read this book” or “prospect x hours a day” kind of stuff though, we get enough of that from our brokers and other agents (not that it’s not appreciated – just a different focus here). Give us something simple, give us something that will make us slap our foreheads in typical V-8 style. Speaking of giving…thanks. You’ve all given me a lot in the past year and I hope to repay it someday with the most mind-numbing post you can imagine.
* I realize a lot of this seems obvious, but some of it took me awhile to really latch onto. Perhaps there will be a nugget there for you to latch onto, perhaps it will spark a new idea in you, and perhaps you’ll never even get this far.
photo courtesy of ejhogbin