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It’s a New Year, Baby!

Reflecting on a Year to Remember

I’m a New Year’s Baby, so I’m allowed to be melancholy and introspective at the turning of the calendar. I have only one resolution for the new year: Succeed. Instead of writing about how I can adapt that resolution to various aspects of my business, I’m instead looking backwards on 2008. For me, this year has been both the best and worst ever. Worst year from a business/ company standpoint (thankful I have remedied that) and best ever from the connections I’ve made, all I’ve learned, and my personal growth.

When the calendar turned on 2008, I was coming off a rough 2007 business year. Looking to reinvigorate my marketing, I had just launched LoCoMusings in December, after blogging with on ActiveRain for nine months (learning so much and finding so many wonderful people to follow around the interwebs).  I joined Twitter around that time, and started networking with some very creative minds in the online real estate community.  The generosity of ideas and the sense of community is still an amazement to me.

The Best of the Best

Attending the VAR Bloggercon in the spring, then Inman Connect SF in July, followed by REBlogWorld and the VAR Annual Convention (with another Bloggercon) in September gave me so many ideas to work with. I wanted to share the highlights of what I took from those, as I get ready to head to New York next week for Inman Connect there.  Here’s some of what I learned this year:

  • Don’t be intimidated..there are bloggers of all skill levels at these conferences. Everyone can learn something.
  • “You wouldn’t walk into the middle of a PTA meeting and yell ‘Hi! I’m a Realtor!’ So don’t act like that online.”
  • Think about inviting members of your community to write as guest bloggers on your site. (and then email them a link to the post after it’s published so they can send it to all their friends)
  • “Participate in an online community before you try to utilize it for your business”
  • YEO (you engaging others) is just as important as SEO. Meld your online efforts with your ‘real life’ activities
  • Look at the keyword searches that brought people to your site. Are there unanswered questions there that you could blog about?
  • “The internet doesn’t replace contact, it enhances it.”
  • Don’t neglect to put properly worded calls to action in the right places within your blog posts.
  • “Be shamelessly and genuinely curious about the person you are talking to” when you contact them, to find out their needs and wants.

Color Me Optimistic

(Can you guess who said each of the quotes?) I have pages and pages of notes I took..each conference I came away with an ‘aha!” idea that I had to use right away. There is no way that I can adequately describe the connections that I’ve made this year, or the number of times I’ve had a chance to sit (inside or outside of a conference room) and listen to successful people talk about what is working for them. Despite the recession, despite the doom and gloom pall over everything, I’m invigorated by the sheer amount of energy and ideas that I’ve seen this year. It’s made me want to be a better Realtor, a better blogger, a better businesswoman. 

I’ve made a ton of changes to my blog, implemented many of these ideas, but there’s so much more I want to do in 2009. What did you learn this year? What’s first on your list for next year?

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Happy New Year!

Written By

Heather is a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, Virginia. She's also the 2008 VARBuzz Blog Brawl Champion, mom to four fantastic kids, and the wife of a golf professional. If she had free time, she'd probably read a good book or play golf. You can find her on twitter, @hthrflynn, or writing on her blog,



  1. Paula Henry

    December 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Heather –

    First, Happy Birthday!
    Next, absolute positive message with nuggets of wisdom each of us can use to grow our business in 2009.

    One I have regularly used and is most valuable is looking at search phrases people use to find me online, then using it for content.

    Best in 2009!

  2. Lisa Sanderson

    December 30, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Twitter and Agent Genius are the two most valuable things I ‘learned’ this year. Each of these communities were an invaluable source of information, inspiration and motivation for me.

    In November, I changed companies and redesigned my blog, ending the year with a fresh start already in place.

    2009? I’m kicking it off with a trip to Inman Connect. The future is looking very bright indeed!! See ya’ll there!!!

    But enough about me…Happy Birthday, Heather, and congrats on all of your accomplishments this year. I will be buying you a margarita in NYC! Your tips are great and I will third the suggestion about using search terms to craft your future posts. I do that, and also use conversations with clients to come up with content…frequently asked questions are a great source of location specific content for me.

  3. Brian Block

    December 30, 2008 at 4:12 pm


    Congrats on all that you’ve learned this year and all the connections you’ve made. From your first Bloggercon to Blog Brawl Champion in one year!

    I’ve got a collection of badges from 2008 to rival yours. Unfortunately I will not be making it up to NYC next week due to other obligations 🙁

    However, 2009 is already shaping up to be great — with a contract just ratified yesterday, and a new listing coming this week.

    I think I’ve got about 2/3 of those quotes in my notes from 2008 as well, and can attribute many of them to their sources.

  4. Craig Barrett

    December 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Happy Birthday Heather!

    What did I learn this year? The value of social media. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to forge business relationships and friendships from the various social media sites.

    First on my list for next year? Effective and efficient integration of social media into my business plan. I feel like I’m all over the map. I need focus and I think the best way for me to do that is to teach fellow agents in my office.

    I’ve started writing a syllabus (with many things gathered, I’ve learned here) and hope to have the first class in March.

  5. Missy Caulk

    December 30, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I remember some of those AND can actually remember who said them. Have a great time in NYC. Congratulations on winning VAR, I had not heard and gosh I voted for you enough.

    Happy New Years to you.

  6. Heather Elias

    December 31, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Thanks for the well wishes..can’t believe nobody has taken a stab at guessing the quotes? 😉 (Glad to hear my notes match yours, Brian..see, I was paying attention!)

    Incorporating social media into your biz plan is a great idea and a must do..thanks for pointing that out, Craig!

    Lisa..Inman is a great way to kick off the year, can’t wait to meet you there!!

    Paula..happy new year to you too! Can’t wait to read more of your writing in ’09.. didn’t know? I’d have thought you’d have heard me screaming for joy all the way from Virginia.. 😉 Thanks!!

  7. Kim Wood

    December 31, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    So happy to have connected with *YOU* and many other awesome people in 2008…. And at your side for two of those conferences, Girlie 🙂

    Ok… I’ll try some…. I’m so not good at this though!
    “You wouldn’t walk into the middle of a PTA meeting and yell ‘Hi! I’m a Realtor!’ So don’t act like that online.” (Nik Nik ?)

    YEO (you engaging others) is just as important as SEO. Meld your online efforts with your ‘real life’ activities (Mr. Jeff Turner?)

    Look at the keyword searches that brought people to your site. Are there unanswered questions there that you could blog about? (I heard this! I can’t remember. Daniel? )

    Ok… I’m sure that is fail – but heh, I tried. *mwa

  8. Jasmine Beaupre

    January 1, 2009 at 9:10 am

    How great is that to be able to say “I was a new years baby”, I’m jealous.

    HAPPY 2009 !

    Check out my blogsite for some health tips. Thanx.

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