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Educators: Stop Faking It.

The Stigliano Chronicles - Open Wide

I’m surrounded by noise.

You know me, I love hearing, listening, learning, and figured out new things. I’m surrounded by noise because I choose to be. Even when the topic is something I feel I know plenty about, I’ll often go to a class or watch a webinar just to see what I might be missing out on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – education is huge. We need it, we should have it, and I’m going to get it. I love sitting in a class and hearing something so obvious that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. I love hearing things that are so far over my head that I need to spend hours doing research to understand the basics in order to get the new concept. Love it.

The noise recently has become overwhelming. I’ve always had a problem at restaurants since I can remember. I hear everything. Most of it just becomes noise as I flit from conversation to conversation. Imagine having 100 radios playing different stations, but knowing what each song is. It’s coming at me from a million directions and I have been learning to control the noise. To pick and choose the voices I want to focus in on and eliminate the static that surrounds them.

Social Media Static.

Of course the topic du jour is social media. Define it how you want, but everyone’s talking about it in the real estate world. It’s a big topic when you stop to think about it and can encompass so many different facets of business and personal life. In a way, it has taken on its own life.

Like anything du jour the wolves have come out to feed on the unknowing. You’ve read enough about self-proclaimed gurus and experts here at AgentGenius, but I’m being to see something more disturbing. The other day, I wrote about a case I saw happening before my very eyes here in San Antonio – “Social Networking at SABOR.” It doesn’t seem isolated either. Boards, brokers, and agents are jumping into the fray to offer you the best in social media training. But their “best” isn’t always helpful, insightful, or worth much.

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There is a circuit of lecturers, motivational speakers, and teachers who make their fortunes teaching us the ins and outs of our business. Some are amazing, some are rather dull, but they all share one thing in common – they get paid to tell us how to better ourselves. Right or wrong. They are in business to sell themselves and to make a living for themselves. They may have good intentions, but when the world is clamoring for a new class on the hottest topic – you’re going to get a lot of people teaching classes they shouldn’t.

Educating the educators.

I recently attended a seminar on “social media” and of course, Twitter was a big part of the action. Having been on Twitter since Lani told me to get on it and introduced me to just about everyone of you, I’m no expert. I enjoy Twitter and have made some great connections here in San Antonio and around the country. Some are agents and some aren’t. I’ve had some great recommendations, but so far, no actual business from it.

During this speaker’s discourse on Twitter he mentioned his username, so like any nerd, I whipped out my phone and looked him up. What did I find? 11 updates. 76 Followers. 56 following. Now, I’m not here to call the speaker out, but really? Eleven updates and you’re going to preach it to a roomful of agents (four of which are in my office and are avid social media users)? In my book, unacceptable. So what am I to do, when I continue to see this around me?

Call it like I see it. Explain to people what I know and how these types of courses are not helping anyone except the accountants for the teachers. If all of us who enjoy and employ social media as a tool take the time to discuss with our local boards, course providers, and brokers what is wrong with what is going on around us in terms of education, perhaps we can help them understand and hire the right people. Here in San Antonio I could recommend at least six people who I think would put on amazing presentations about social media – that would encompass both beginners and early adopters. Next time you see a class that you know isn’t going to push agents to the next level or is taught by someone who is looking for nothing more than a paycheck, perhaps you should attend. Ask questions. Talk to the organizers. Show your expertise. Maybe next time you’ll wind up teaching, but even if you don’t, perhaps you’ll make one dent in the educational needs of the agents in your hometown.

photo courtesy of z65536

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Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Brandie Young

    July 26, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Matt – great thoughts here. It is really noisy! It seems so easy to “always be learning” but for me it makes it more challenging for that life balance thing…

    Too bad about the course you attended. Sounds like it wasn’t a great use of your valuable time.

    b

  2. Dale Chumbley

    July 27, 2009 at 2:53 am

    Matt,

    Most excellent post & insight. Thank you! I just forwarded this to my managing broker. Interestingly enough, we have a “SM” webinar coming up in the not too distant future. I found it odd that the “local expert” is someone I don’t even know. Not that I’m any professional either, but certainly think I’d know a local pro when I hear their name… To all the “experts, gurus, sensei’s, pro’s…” please stick to what you know and don’t try to make a buck just cause it’s the new cool thing. We have enough screwed up Realtors in this world.

    Thanks again Matt! Keep on rockin’ the truth!

  3. Ken Brand

    July 27, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Matt, you have X-Ray Vision. Nice.

    It’s an interesting wave to observe. One of my favorite quotes is, “In the land of the blind, the one man is King.”

    You’re on the mark, savvy social media mavens should step up and offer to help/teach/share?

    Also, Social Media cred is easily found out, as you’ve shared, with Social Media it’s easy to see if someone is wearing Emperors Clothes or?

    Thanks.

  4. Ian Greenleigh

    July 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Every consumer, B2B or otherwise, should do–check out the product before purchase. In this case, the product is a slick speaker, and the way to check it out is to examine their social media presence. Ask yourself, do I want to emulate this person? Does it look like they have anything to offer me? I think you and I both have the sense that most people out there are pure opportunists with little credibility. I think people DO need to call them out more often.

  5. Bill Risser

    July 27, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Matt,

    I’d like to get your response or take on what I’m doing in my area. I’m a branch manager for a title company, and my sales rep and I have been running a series on Social Media for area agents looking to get started. The first session is a broad overview of how successful Realtors are using SM. We touch on Active Rain, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Apps. We then run individual workshops on each of the 5 sites mentioned above and help the agents set up profiles, learn how to navigate the sites, proper etiquette for that site, and a general understanding of how the site can help them. We do not charge for this, and I do not proclaim to be an expert. I have learned through blogs like Agent Genius, and by simply using these sites and starting my own blog. The target market for my SM marketing is fairly narrow. It’s agents and lenders in my town. On the other hand, I tell agents and lenders, they have a far broader audience to target and reach. They need to be involved in this arena far more so than I do. Obviously, there is something in this for me. My goal is to develop relationships that lead to business for my branch. So far, we’ve had good success converting attendees into clients. I feel that even though I am not an “expert”, I can bring value and knowledge to help someone get rolling… Thanks for a great post. I too Google “experts” right away and I am shocked by how little info pulls up!

  6. Matthew Hardy

    July 27, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    > I’m not here to call the speaker out

    You should have… and let one more social media guru/consultant/god who doesn’t know his hat from a toilet bite the dust. This industry has more advice-givers, who know nothing more than how to give a presentation, than any other I know.

    Recently, in relation to the healthcare debate, I heard someone say “I want my doctor to earn a lot of money”. When I *really* need help, I want a true expert, not someone who could qualify for a civil servant job.

    Find someone who *charges* for their advice and you’ll usually spend much less when you consider time lost resulting from cheap advice. Sometimes “free” is the most expensive advice of all.

  7. Jim Rake

    July 28, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Matt – good points. Nothing substitutes for a bit of good Due Diligence to verify you’re getting what you’ve paid for.

    As far as the RE education business goes, SM or otherwise, one can call themselves anything they want, but good educators not only know their business, but have have practiced it as well. There’s no better teacher than experience!

  8. Matt Stigliano

    July 28, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Brandie – I think what worries me most is that there are some out there who unknowingly will accept these false-educators words as the gospel. Learning from someone who doesn’t know much will not make you smarter.

    Dale – It’s sad as well that the people who are the real experts and gurus and that care about teaching these issues to others wind up sitting on the sidelines. If you were hiring someone for a class, wouldn’t you want a “guru” or “expert”? It’s all about perception. The people doing the hiring are often not involved in social media, so they see it as a great idea and a good way to add value to their membership (in the case of a local board) or agents (for brokers). Perhaps we need to educate the purchasers before we educate the educators.

    Ken – Of course, there’s the flip side – the teacher with a zillion follows, friends, and fans. The same one who has all that, but still has no real connection to a single one of them. A “pusher” of information – the one way street of social media that we all know is a dead end full of murderous gangs waiting to steal your hubcaps (do they even make hubcaps anymore?).

    Ian – The only problem I see with what you say is the phrase “slick speaker.” Like a snake-oil salesman of the past, a slick speaker could charm the pants off of you and have you shelling out your $20 for a talk on the life a doorknob.

    Bill – Your step by step approach sounds excellent. Overview and then delve into each one of a more personal hands-on basis. Great idea. I would even go so far as to develop something for the more advanced users as well. Get them involved and many of them will probably even help you develop it further. Because I’ve been blogging for what seems like eons to some people I meet (if they met some of the AgentGenius folk, they wouldn’t believe that they’ve been doing it much longer), I can get bored by the “basics” class, but yet still hunger for some more advanced info. I don’t know nearly everything, but would love to find a place to learn it. Give that to those who know a bit and your returns will probably grow even more as they become more advanced and spread the word about you.

    Matthew – I did consider it, but I didn’t want this to come off as a personal-sided rant. I wanted to reflect the industry (of speaking/teaching) as a whole. I’ve seen it more than once from more than one person, so I took that route. I’ve begun to consider teaching more and more as I see things around me and the lack of quality material out there on some topics. My broker has asked me to help with some “classes” (not MCE or paid for) and I think we may be getting involved in that soon.

    Jim – Yet here we are constantly encouraged to be “experts” (local experts). If we ourselves can’t be the experts on a topic, then we should know better than to try and tell someone we are one.

  9. Dale Chumbley

    July 28, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    LOL! Matt, to follow up on my comment…

    Yesterday I received a random text message asking if I’d sit as a panelist in the webinar I mentioned. Just cracked me up. Apparently the realization hit that they aren’t a Twitter user. Does this make me a “guru”? ;?) LOL

  10. Matt Stigliano

    July 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Dale – That’s awesome. I hope you take it. You’re one of the people I can see doing a class like that. I guess now I’ll have to call you “Guru Expert D.J. Dale Chumbley.” I like the sound of it.

  11. Mark Eckenrode

    August 5, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    this isn’t a new phenomenon but, in addition to a few articles i’ve read over the past few days, i think this post is indicative of something larger…

    we seem to have entered the social media backlash. folks are sick of the bajillion gurus that have popped up, we’re sick of the news pushing their twitter or facebook, we’re sick of how loud it’s gotten, we’re sick that converstaions have turned to broadcasts. on and on.

    basically, we’re now tired of being force-fed social media. especially by folks who are just now hopping onto the bandwagon.

  12. Matt Stigliano

    August 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    @MarkEckenrode – I can see your point, although I don’t see my comments as part of the backlash. My thoughts were directed towards those of us who want to see it grow and become even more useful. I want us to take a stand against these people (and we do) and to help educate those who might think the guru who got on Twitter 24 hours ago really is a genius. It was also directed to the leeches. The educators who know they have nothing useful to provide, but build a course just to satisfy the demand – and their bank accounts.

    I’m not sick of the conversation…but that might have to do with the people I converse with. People who still know how to hold a conversation. Maybe we should dump the “media” part of it (because people accept it is synonymous with “broadcast everything and see what sticks”) and call it “social conversation (with gadgets involved).” I don’t think Oprah will jump on that name anytime soon though, so I think we’re going to have to stick with what we have.

  13. Mark Eckenrode

    August 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    while you didn’t lash out against social media, you pointed out the come-lately snake oil folks who are a contributing factor to the backlash that i’ve been noticing. that’s all i was getting at.

    and, as traditional media starts adopting social media, we’ll continue to see more of these false educators. heck, i cans till hear them on radio and tv commercials. they’ll be just as plentiful on social media because, well, that’s where the people are.

    but, as you said, awareness is the key.

  14. Ian Greenleigh

    August 6, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Matt-

    Yes, the speaker might *quite literally* be slick with their own product–snake oil. Getting high on one’s own supply, I believe they call it. That stuff is hard to wash off. Stains too. I think it would be hilarious to actually sell snake oil. I’ll bet someone like Perry Belcher could do it if someone challenged him.

  15. Missy Caulk

    September 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Matt, I hear ya…our board recently held some Social Media classes, I went to hear. I was bored to death, it was so basic.

  16. Matt Dollinger

    September 25, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Matt,

    Great post. It’s so spot on that i had to comment. And unfortunately it’s not limited to Social Media. Recently I sent our top REO agent to a distressed property designation class offered through our local board. The instructor? You got it – had done a total of 2 Foreclosures.

    Social media unfortunately is evolving so quickly that it’s hard to deem who is qualified to really teach it. Do you teach the “theory” of it? The Implementation? Usage?

    Anyway, could go on for hours but great post.

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