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How to be Transparent Without Showing Your Chest Hair


1.0 vs 2.0

You know the internet is no longer a static tool to show pictures and data. It’s an interactive tool that is highly participatory. It’s the old 1.0 versus 2.0 thang.

It was once easy just to put up a web site with your picture, pictures of listed properties, school information and other static data. Now there is much more pressure to participate at a deeper level, to be more familiar and transparent through tools like social networks. To appear and talk to people in a way that might be foreign or forced. How are you adapting to this new more casual and less buttoned up approach?

Rushing to embrace 2.0

I know a real estate agent who understood this world and wanted to rush into embracement. The first thing he did was ditch the suit and tie for a casual Tommy Bahama type shirt and trousers. He went into the photography studio for a new picture; he created a personal video, started a blog and redid all his marketing materials to reflect a more approachable 2.0 kind of guy. He was so excited to show me the new him. I nearly hit the floor when I saw that the new him included a prominent spot for his chest hairs, which were clearly visible in his photo.

Although the intent was genuine, the execution lacked finesse. How do you come across as real and transparent without sacrificing your professionalism? What I would have asked him was: who are your target audiences? What kind of expectations have you set with them about the way you dress, your demeanor? He worked with a lot of busy professionals. Ok, then dump the suit coat (no don’t put it over your shoulder), but keep the shirt and tie. Fine to create the blog, put up a LinkedIn page, Facebook and all the rest, if it is in alignment with your target audiences (past and future clients).

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Your approach

I hate to sound like a broken record, but your approach to the 2.0 world of collaboration and participation should simply be inline with your target audience and the ‘brand’ that you’ve created or want to create.

And wherever you fall within the spectrum of participation, the number one rule is don’t force it. You’ve seen the posts on Facebook and Twitter that are so obviously smarmy or unnatural. Yes, nuances in typed text can scream loudly. Beware that in this space of fast traveling information, the bad reputation hits you in real time. Remember these short messages can easily be misinterpreted. While you may want to share a strong opinion or joke, it could hit someone the wrong way leaving the wrong lasting impression. It only takes one communication fail to ruin your reputation.

Don’t, don’t, don’t

Don’t force sell. Don’t force your personal life. Don’t force editorial commentary. Don’t force humor.

This new space is about the natural flow of conversation and information. Not that you can’t sell, share your personal life, make editorial comment or show humor, it’s about doing all that as you.

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Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.



  1. Joe Loomer

    July 10, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I sense a little “foreplay” in your “wordplay,” Ginny!

    Great post – I don’t know how many times during any given day I can see posts on FB that involve two folks who REALLY should have just used the “chat” function.

    One last week had three agents from a local firm going off about a back-stabbing client-stealing fellow agent – also in their own firm. This post reminded me of that…..

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. MIssy Caulk

    July 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Ginny, be yourself is key, being comfortable in your own skin. I am not funny, I can’t be and I can’t try to be. My hubby is hysterical, he says I was born withOUT a sense of humor.

    I struggle with that on Twitter, so many quick witted folks on there.

  3. Joshua Dorkin @

    July 10, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Ginny – You used a few key words that stick out to me: collaboration and participation. These, in my opinion, are the keys to being successful in this world of web 2.0. Just slapping up a profile, no matter how professional, across the web, won’t do you much good until you get out there and start interacting with the rest of the community.

  4. Ken Brand

    July 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Your post is an example of perfect balance.

    As for Mister Chest Hairs….looking at the half-full glass, I’d say, thankfully he left his gold chains on night stand. Or where ever one keeps them.


  5. Austin Smith -

    July 10, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Ginny, great follow up post to yesterday’s. You make a good point that Your image needs to work for You, or else it won’t be effective. Did you point out this guy’s fuax pas, or just try not to smile when you pocketed his card.. 🙂

    “thankfully he left his gold chains on night stand” – Ahaha…I wonder if he wore loafers and a pinky ring?

  6. Jay Zenner

    July 11, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Of course you are correct but this isn’t just a Web 2.0 phenomenon. Part of the problem is that for years in a sellers’ market the competition for clients has been so intense that our marketing emphasis has been on “personal branding” and generating leads. The worst example I ever saw was a series of tips by an “expert” in luxury home marketing who recommended making a long list of the attributes of your “ideal” client and then doing everything you could to become that ideal. She cited this as the “Law of Attraction” and a way to make yourself over and attract business so you to can enjoy the benefits of luxury home sized commissions.

    There is a big market inside the industry for this type of advice and maybe it works, but frankly, it makes my skin crawl. It’s hard to imagine better advice for becoming unauthentic…a phony…untrustworthy.

    But I also had a less emotional reaction to this advice that is more important now that we have shifted to a buyers’ market and are likely to be there for a while. With higher inventories relative to qualified buyers we need to demonstrate our skill in marketing homes. Scan the recent eflyers you have received or listings on Quite often the product positioning is awful, the photography is awful and the copy writing is abysmal. Dig a little deeper and a lot of the pricing is suspect.

    Here’s a unique idea…tie your personal brand to some expertise in these areas and skip the humor, stories about your dog and, of course, the chest hair.

    Jay Zenner

  7. Mark Eckenrode

    July 13, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    collaboration and participation should simply be inline with your target audience

    smart advice that’s not often followed.

  8. tomferry

    September 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I just went back to your post and did a re-read Ginny. Awesome- thank you!

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