Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

Twenty years ago, Valerie Garcia started answering phones at a real estate office. She quickly fell in love with the industry and agents, and even got her real estate license. However, her true passion was being behind the scenes – teaching agents how to use and adopt new technologies/tools.

Today, Valerie is a speaker, consultant and encourager with over twenty years of experience in real estate education working with a number of industry brands all over the world. Fun fact: She has spoken on every continent in the world except Antarctica!

A few years ago, Valerie left her corporate position to follow her passion and start her own consulting business with a strong focus on speaking, content creation and storytelling. Whether it’s speaking on stage, in a board room to a team or presenting to a client in their living room, Valerie helps real estate professionals improve their speaking skills and build confidence so they can successfully tell their story.

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner sat down with Valerie to discuss how you can find your voice and tell your authentic story.

  • Marketing in today’s world is noisier than ever and tactics that may have worked fifteen years ago just don’t stick anymore. That’s why Valerie created a workshop, called The Modern Campfire, to bring people into small groups and teach them how to use storytelling in their business.
  • Valerie shares that the biggest challenge for those who want to speak on stage is understanding what authenticity means to them and figuring out how to be comfortable with themselves.
  • Valerie notes that there’s no shortage of speaking opportunities – at events, your local news station, conventions, etc., – what’s difficult is deciding you have a message. What are you good at? What do you like to talk about? What are you passionate about? You must establish that and then put it into words.
  • If you’re new to the speaking world and a bit camera shy, Lisa and Valerie recommend trying a Facebook Live or podcast to get more comfortable.
  • A major benefit of speaking at events and telling your story is that it can generate more referrals for your business. By becoming recognizable to a broader audience, you naturally stay top-of-mind.
  • For those interested in becoming a speaker, Valerie recommends you find your voice, become comfortable with who you are, know who your audience is and determine the story you want to share.

Click above to watch the full interview and learn more at

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, contacts and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

With over one billion users worldwide, Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social platforms for brands to market themselves. For real estate professionals, Instagram has become a great way for agents to promote their listings, offer a peek into their open houses, highlight restaurants and shops in desirable neighborhoods and much more.

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently interviewed Anne Jones, Broker/Owner at Windermere Abode in Tacoma’s Old Town neighborhood. Anne first started playing around with Instagram and video back in 2011 – and today, her account (@tacomajones) which offers a glimpse into life in Tacoma (e.g., charming homes, small local businesses, beautiful scenery) is well known amongst the industry with over 8,000 engaged followers.

Below are tips from Anne on how you can use Instagram to find your brand voice and generate more referral business.

  • Consistency and knowing your brand’s voice is Anne’s key to success on Instagram. When she joined the social network, she looked at who was following and engaging with her account, she asked what they wanted to see more of and built out her content from there. She also recommends looking at other accounts both in and outside the real estate industry for creative inspiration and ideas.
  • Anne describes social media as the modern coffee shop and explains that as an agent you have to figure out where your clients are spending the most time online (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and then focus on engaging on those platforms.
  • Instagram has also become an effective way for agents to generate new referral business. When an agent is researching online to refer a client who’s moving to another part of the country, they could look at your Instagram page to see what your personality is like, what neighborhoods you focus on, your pulse on the community and market, etc.
  • For agents who want to become more active on Instagram, Anne suggests being consistent with your content, using Instagram stories to engage your followers and make sure you have a great bio description and website link at the top of your profile.

Click above to watch the full interview and follow Anne Jones on Instagram at @tacomajones.

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, contacts and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

Whether it’s running a charity 5k, serving lunch to the homeless or simply fundraising for a cause close to your heart, having a social giving strategy in your business is a must. It’s also an easy and fun way to motivate and inspire your team while giving back and connecting with the local community you serve.

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently interviewed Caroline Pinal, co-founder of Giveback Homes – a community of real estate professionals who are committed to creating social change by helping build homes for deserving families around the world.

ReferralExchange has had the pleasure of working with Giveback Homes over the past few years to develop our own giving plan which has included local build days with our employees in California and fundraising for projects in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico.

Below are tips from Caroline on how you can easily integrate social giving into your real estate business.

  • Treat your giving strategy like your business plan for it to be impactful and successful. Saying you are going to donate to a cause once a year is not enough, you must put pen to paper and make it happen.
  • Getting active in your local community can help build your network and clientele. Caroline shared that sometimes Giveback Homes members will reach out to one another if they have a referral in another city or state, and at closing each agent will donate to a build project. That’s double the social impact.
  • Step one of creating a giving strategy = finding your cause. Once you’ve determined that, do your research and due diligence to decide which organization you should partner with. It’s also important to clearly set your giving goal so you can quantify your impact and celebrate those milestones and success.
  • Incorporating giving into your business strategy can be overwhelming, but Caroline encourages agents and brokers to start small (start today!) and let your giving efforts and goals grow year after year.

Click above to watch the full interview and learn more at

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, contacts and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

Digital advertising and retargeting have become an increasingly popular tool for businesses to ensure they get their product/services in front of the right people at the right time. If you’ve ever checked out a pair of shoes while online shopping, you may have noticed that ads for those shoes have suddenly started following you to other websites.

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently interviewed Chris Leithe, VP of Sales & Customer Success at Adwerx to discuss how agents can use retargeting to build their brand and business.

Below are tips from Chris on how you can use ad retargeting to boost your brand and reach the homebuyers and sellers you want to work with.

  • Consistency is key – keep the imagery (e.g., headshot) for your ads consistent. It’s important that when someone sees your ads, checks you out on Facebook or visits your landing page that they recognize YOU.
  • Make sure your ads have retargeting (i.e., you will see the ad again on other platforms), behavioral targeting (i.e., targeting people who are in the market to buy or sell) and geo-targeting so that you are advertising to the right city and markets you service.
  • Re-targeting ads to your database is an easy way to stay top-of-mind to your current network and sphere. Adwerx helps agents retarget through their sphere, listings and zip codes they service.
  • Creating ads that are consistent will boost your brand and make you more recognizable. The more you stay top-of-mind, the more people you follow around, the more likely people will remember you.

Click above to watch the full interview and learn more at

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, contacts and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

Whether stuck in traffic or on the treadmill at the gym, chances are you’ve listened to a podcast at least once. In today’s digital world, they’re more popular than ever and according to 2018 Edison Research, “monthly listeners grew from 24% of Americans 12+ to 26% year over year.”

Our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner recently interviewed Bill Risser, VP of Digital Strategy at Fidelity National Title and Founder/Host of The Real Estate Sessions Podcast to discuss all things podcasting.

If you’re considering starting your own podcast, below are a few tips from Bill to keep in mind:

  • Starting your own podcast is easier than ever. Bill recommends the podcast hosting site as an easy solution for agents to get started. All you need is your phone and the Anchor app – it’s really that simple.
  • Create a website for your podcast and use social media to drive traffic back to it. If you interview a guest on your podcast, ask them to share and promote it to their network to expand your reach.
  • Tap into your specific market knowledge and create content through podcasting by consistently sharing unique tips and best practices.
  • Keep your podcasts short and sweet. Bill recommends keeping them 5 to 10 minutes in length and producing them once a week or monthly – it’s all about being consistent.
  • Search key words in your podcast app (e.g., real estate, real estate marketing) to find related podcasts for inspiration.
  • When starting your own podcast, it’s as simple as getting started and sticking with it.

Click above to watch the full interview.

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, contacts and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

The real estate business is unpredictable. One minute you’re riding high with three signed offers and the next, you’ve lost a major, career-making deal.

In today’s market, it’s more critical than ever to leave no stone unturned by strategically managing your referrals and leads. As an agent, time is money and spending it following up on bad phone numbers and email addresses is not the best use of your energy.

If any of the below scenarios apply to you, it may be time to rethink how you manage your referrals and lead flow to take your business to the next level this year.

You’re generating more leads from your online marketing than you or your team can handle.
It sounds like a good problem to have, but buying or generating hundreds or thousands of leads each month can be overwhelming and a total waste if you don’t have an efficient process to manage them. 

The leads you purchase don’t always have the correct contact information.
We’ve all gotten them before: bad phone numbers and email addresses like Pure junk. Having a system or service in place that can help you track and weed out the good from the bad can save you a significant amount of time and money in the long run. 

You don’t have time to properly follow up and evaluate your lead flow.
Prioritizing and managing when and how many times you’ve contacted a lead can be chaotic and frustrating. Implementing a process that will inform you of which leads are real, right and ready to transact will ensure you don’t miss those hot leads who are ready to transact right away.  

You have leads, clients or contacts who don’t match your price range, specialization or market area.
If you generate leads outside your market, have a family member relocating to another state or a friend that wants to buy outside the price range you specialize in, you can still help them by connecting them with a trusted agent in your network.

You are retiring or going part-time, but would like to continue generating income from your network.
Just because you’re retiring doesn’t mean you can’t continue assisting the database of clients you’ve grown over your career with their real estate needs. Utilizing your referral network not only allows you to assist an old client, but also earns you a referral fee at the same time—it’s a win-win. 

You have personal referrals you want to place with a proven agent.
As an agent today, you must be the local expert with global connections. Your clients and sphere expect you to be the “go-to real estate resource.” Being part of a nationwide referral network enables you to do just that.

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, contacts and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

Written by Lisa Fettner

Nearly every agent has experienced the frustration of dealing with third-party/online leads. While they can be an incredible source of business, there’s no denying that online lead generation is out of control.

In many cases, a prospect is simply researching information about their property or is at the very start of the home buying or selling process. And, when coupled with the fact that they search on multiple websites who then sell their contact information to multiple agents, a not-so-great prospect could actually turn into 30-plus not-so-great leads. It’s no wonder that even though nearly 100 million internet leads were generated in 2018, only 1.5% of them actually closed.

Sifting through these low quality, low-converting leads can be distracting and time-consuming. That could be why many prospects report that they never receive a response to their request. Agents are simply too overwhelmed by the volume of leads that don’t pan out. This can lead to missing some real opportunities.

Before buying leads, it’s important to know what your end goal is. Do you simply want to do more business, increase your average deal price or expand into a new market? Be realistic — converting prospects in a new price point or market area will be more difficult than leads located in your current area of focus. You also need a strategy for contacting, tracking, nurturing and evaluating your leads so you can determine which ones generate the best return on investment.

Below are some tips to help tame the flood of data and get your lead management activities under control:

Do a personal assessment: What makes sense for you to do versus someone else? What do you like to do? Yes, you can make every call and send every email yourself, but is that the best use of your time? Are you neglecting work that only you can do to follow up with these leads? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider outsourcing some of the initial lead contact and sourcing duties.

Make technology work for you: Most evidence shows that leads need to be contacted right away, and that often isn’t realistic if you’re in the middle of a listing presentation or showing a buyer a home. The good news is, there are many great tech solutions to help you. Customer relationship managers (CRMs), email automation and companies like mine and various others that filter/nurture raw leads for you can all take care of the initial contact and qualification. Just be sure to identify what features and functionality you need before you purchase anything.

Make your schedule work for you — and your clients/prospects:Allocate blocks of time for different tasks, especially recurring ones. Exceptions will sometimes need to be made, but controlling your schedule helps you stay calmer and more focused.

• Offer clients or prospects specific time segments versus open-ended responses. You want to be responsive, but not at the expense of your sanity. There’s nothing wrong with providing time options that work for you. You can always make an exception if need be.

• Identify your prospect’s preferred means of communication (e.g., phone, email, text) moving forward.

• Include your service-level agreements (SLAs) in your client presentations. Let them know when you’re available to show properties, how quickly you’ll return their call, text or email, etc. Buying or selling a home is stressful, and managing expectations helps keep everyone organized and calm.

• If someone is out of your preferred area or price point, refer the lead out. You’ll still receive a referral fee, and chances are a local agent will do a better job than you could.

Do a quarterly assessment: Sometimes it takes a while to determine whether a lead-gen program is successful, so reviewing your lead generation business quarterly is usually sufficient.

• Overview — Analyze the type of prospects you received, where they were in the sales process when they contacted you, price point, area, property type and the overall conversion rate. Consider rating their level of intent (e.g., A, B, C) to prioritize them.

• Compare — Some lead sources might be more expensive per lead, but convert better than a cheaper one. Or, the average price point could be higher on one lead source than another. Allocate each lead as “revenue/lead” to determine which sources make sense for you to continue purchasing.

• Don’t be afraid to pull the plug — If a specific lead source isn’t working for you, stop. You can’t build a house without a foundation, and if the leads you’re receiving aren’t right for you or aren’t converting, it doesn’t make sense to continue.

• Were the leads worth your time? — Assign yourself an hourly rate and use it when analyzing your revenue/lead.

Streamlining lead management helps you more quickly identify who is most likely to transact and needs help immediately. This can increase your productivity, your peace of mind and ultimately your bottom line in growing and maintaining your real estate business.

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, nurtures and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

With a new year comes a fresh schedule of real estate events – a chance for us to meet new people, catch up with old friends and connect with the talented agents in our network all over the country. Check out this full list of major industry events from Inman News.

If you’re attending any of the below conferences, drop us a line at We’d love to connect!

January: Inman Connect – New York, NY

February: CRS Sell-a-bration – Las Vegas, NV

February: RE/MAX R4 – Las Vegas, NV

July: Inman Connect – Las Vegas, NV

August: Florida Assoc. Realtors – Orlando, FL

September: Texas Assoc. Realtors – Ft. Worth, TX

September: California Assoc. Realtors – Los Angeles, CA

October: NAGLREP – Palm Springs, CA

October: California Realtors WomanUp! – San Diego, CA

November: NAR Annual – San Francisco, CA

December: Triple Play – Atlantic City, NJ

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, nurtures and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.

Written by Lisa Fettner

For the last 6 years, my March has been filled with sparkles, sequins and smiles. Every spring, teens from all over the Bay Area come to the San Francisco Princess Project to get a free prom dress and accessory. Unfortunately, just like real estate in much of the country, prom has become unaffordable to many since the average teen spends over $1000. Last year, we helped over 2,500 teens!

My experience – as a volunteer and Co-President – has helped me become a better leader, mentor, and person.  Below are some of the lessons I’ve learned that apply to the real estate industry.

BE FEARLESS – You don’t get to “yes” without asking the question.

During my first year as Co-President, we needed to find new space for our pop-up boutique. Finding 10,000 square feet of donated space for a month in San Francisco was challenging and we had contacted nearly every property management company with no success.

Finally, I called Boston Properties who managed the Embarcadero Center. Not only did they give us a prime location, but they’ve become an amazing partner – promoting our organization to their tenants, organizing dress drives, and even donating the janitorial and utility costs.

In real estate, you absolutely must ask for the business. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no – but they won’t say “yes” if you don’t ask. 

BE GRATEFUL – Someone else always has a higher hill to climb.

During one of our giveaway seasons, I was facing some personal challenges and felt a bit sorry for myself until a teen came in whose mother had recently passed away.  Her chaperone was helping her apply to college, get a part-time job and find a place to live.  I helped her find a great dress and the chaperone told me it was the first time she’d seen the girl smile since her mother had died.

Being an agent is tough. You’re at the mercy of clients – and your pipeline. Deals fall through or don’t go the way you hope. The good news, is that if you stay focused and keep trying, eventually things get better.

BE MINDFUL – Your moment is someone else’s milestone.

One evening, we had a special needs teen come to the boutique.  While we were having fun making her look fabulous, I realized that her mother was crying. She had never anticipated having that “prom dress shopping” milestone with her daughter, and it was tremendously emotional for her.

Real estate agents help people with the largest purchase of their lives. And it’s sometimes hard when you’re crazy busy and handling multiple transactions to remember and appreciate that. Even if the clients are difficult, you get to be the person who makes it happen — and that’s one of the biggest rewards of being an agent.

BE JOYFUL – Happiness yields positivity.

Every year Job Corps brings a huge group of teens to get dresses. They give them a place to stay, food to eat, clothing, healthcare, and job training. While their lives are challenging, the shopping experiences enables them to have fun and celebrate – and that’s okay.

Buying or selling a home is stressful, but it can – and should be fun. By bringing a sense of excitement and “fun” into a transaction, you’ll have happier and more grateful clients in the long run because you helped make their experience a positive one.

BE PASSIONATE – Let your passion drive your legacy.

I was on the train coming home from work several months ago, when a young woman came over and said, “You’re the prom dress lady.” She had found her prom dress through the Princess Project and wanted me to know how grateful she was for our program.  She also wanted to help volunteer during our next giveaway. I felt like a proud parent.

Real Estate can be a passion and mission vs. simply a profession.  You are the subject matter expert of your business, and people will respect you for it.  Your passion can drive your legacy – for both your team and the clients you’ve helped – you just need to channel your energy and drive to make it so.

A video about the Princess Project can be found here.

About The Princess Project

The Princess Project promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school teens who cannot otherwise afford them.  Our effort is made possible entirely through invaluable volunteer, donor and community support. For more information, please visit or email

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.” – Wayne Dyer

Whether you’re a new or experienced agent, having strong leadership skills and practices will help you save time and increase your bottom line.

Bestselling author and speaker Coni Meyers, recently joined our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner for a second webinar on becoming a more effective leader. Watch the first webinar here.

During the webinar, Coni shared how you can define your purpose and design your vision both personally and professionally, build your team with intention and how vision affects happiness, success, emotional intelligence and self-management.

What is Kickbutt Leadership? Kickbutt leadership with VISION means you are a visionary, impactful, strategic, inspirational, organized and a navigator. It’s going to attract your tribe – i.e., the clients you want, the people on your team, the people around you and give you more time.

What is your “WHY”? Coni stresses that it’s very imperative that we figure out our purpose and our why. When you have your why (e.g., helping others, being a great parent, to serve others in real estate), it makes making decisions must easier. A WHY statement is a simple statement about why you are on this earth. Your why can change through different stages and ages in your life – but ultimately it is the core of who you are. For example, Coni’s WHY is “To support people who are stepping into the vision for their life personally and professionally.”

Ask yourself these questions to determine your why:

  • What do you love?
  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How do you want to be remembered?

Creating the vision. In order to have a clear vision, you must come from it and in order to come from it, you have to become it. Coni shared the four aspects of our lives: health, relationships, career/creative expression and time/money freedom. Put pen to paper and write down what you envision for each of these categories if you had no limitations.

Define and design your perfect business. Regardless of your type of business, you need to look at your vision from a leadership, team and client point of view. Ask yourself:

  • What is working for you that you LOVE?
  • What demographics do you LOVE working with?
  • How much sales volume in units/clients would you LOVE?
  • What is the median price point you would LOVE to sell?
  • What niches or emerging markets would you LOVE to work with?
  • What would you LOVE that you have not done yet?

Happiness vs. Success. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” –Albert Schweitzer. 10% of your happiness comes from external influences, while 90% of your happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the world – your mindset.

If you have a visioning mindset, your happiness is going to come from that vision. You are also 31% more productive and 37% better at sales when you come from happiness.

Mindfulness thinking creates emotional intelligence. Mindfulness thinking is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. If we have a clear vision, we will be more focused and helps us stay in the present moment.

Coni suggests doing five mindfulness practices throughout the day:

  1. 10 minutes in the morning
  2. Every 1-2 hours take 1-2 minutes
  3. Before meeting or phone call take 1-2 minutes
  4. Start meetings with something personal
  5. 5 minutes at the end of day

Learn more at and watch the full webinar recording here.