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

“…You, my friend, are a brand. Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market ourselves to others.” —Seth Price

Enhancing your personal brand can help take your business to the next level. Real estate writer and speaker, Seth Price, recently joined us for a webinar to share tips on how to create a personal brand in the complex world of digital media. When you think of Seth, you think of personal branding. For him, it’s the key to scaling a business, negotiating well, raising money and attracting new customers — yet you must build a reputation. Seth shared how to do the following:

  • Develop a strategic approach to making your mark in this world.
  • Combine new and old tools to build trust at scale.
  • Leverage your personal brand to connect in real time.

“If you don’t show up on Google, you don’t exist.” In the digital age, it’s all about how you stand out. Today, people are more distracted than ever — which makes it challenging for businesses to garner and maintain consumer attention. If your presence does not appear on platforms like Facebook and Google that can capture attention and show who you are, you don’t exist. Seth notes, “You need to have a brand to be relevant today. Either you manage it yourself or it manages you.”

“Recognition is not just for the rich and famous.” Branding is no longer just for big businesses or the rich and famous. If you think of Tesla, you’ve probably heard of Elon Musk, and if you think of the Corcoran Group, you’ve probably heard of Barbara Corcoran. These are all big businesses built around the persona of an individual. Personal branding is an expression of our trust and authenticity, and how we market ourselves. When you walk into a room, people naturally have a perception of you. Only you have the power to focus what you want your brand to be in the world.

“As a brand, we can leverage the same strategies that make the rich and famous brands appeal to others. We can create recognition and trust just like them.” When we leverage our brand, we can scale our businesses at a rate we couldn’t do if we were not leveraging branding. Your website, business cards, and mission statement are not your brand — they are simply representations of your brand. Seth explains that no one cares what you have to sell, until they have a problem. The goal is to reach consumers before they have a problem. For example, if you begin interacting with someone long before they buy a home and long after, you can almost guarantee you will get future business and referrals from them.

“It boils down to trust + attention.” In the real estate industry, service is key to our business. To provide exceptional service to consumers, you must have their trust and attention. When determining your brand, think about what you want people to know you for. Seth shared these questions to help get you started:

  • What are your goals?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What’s your special sauce?
  • How does the world see you?
  • What does Google say about you?
  • What do your social profiles say about you?

“What’s the impression people have when your name is read or said?” When you’re not in a room, how do people describe you? Seth suggests asking friends and family members to describe what you do. If that description is not spot on, there is a disconnect on how you are communicating your expertise and how you are being perceived. Ideally you want to create an experience with prospects prior to meeting them that is in-line with what you do and who you are. Your brand is not solely just about what you do, but also what you stand for. There is a lot of power in deciding who you are above all else, and with that, you will start to attract people who love who you are.

“You need brand assets for your road to recognition.” Images are more important than ever in this visual world we live in. Seth stresses the importance and value of having a great and current headshot (i.e., hi-res, looking at the camera), and making sure it’s everywhere until you’re famous. First impressions are how the world sees us. In addition to a great headshot, “You need a website that aligns with your name/brand in every way. It needs to work on all mobile devices and it needs to be written for human consumption.” Having your own website is the difference between owning and renting. A website that you control is an asset that you have, no matter what happens in the marketplace. It’s also a place where you get to build your reputation for that destination. Most importantly, your website needs to be responsive and the content needs to include your unique personality and brand. Pro tip: If you write the content and blog posts for an individual that is your ideal customer vs. the general public, you will increase the readership fivefold.

“Your LinkedIn profile is part business card, cover letter, testimonial page and a living database of your network.” LinkedIn is still the biggest career-based network in the world. Facebook is largely comprised of entertainment such as cute animal videos, but LinkedIn is all business. Seth highlights the importance of the platform, encouraging you to “Use it to create your own personal landing page, share your expertise, to prospect and meet new people.”

“Billions are on Facebook but most are not branded well.” As an agent, you should make sure your entire profile is filled out, include a link to your site, use images that represent your brand, share what’s important to your target audiences, while staying in-line with your brand. Someone should be able to look at your page and instantly understand that you are a community leader and the “go-to” real estate resource in your market. Why is this important? Because “Deeply understanding your audience will help you create experiences that solve their problems.”

Learn more marketing and branding tips from Seth at sethprice.net and watch the full webinar here.

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We live in a very visual and virtual world — something social media plays a big part in. Different social channels allow users to share candid views into their business, offer two-way engagement in a fun way, help reach audiences who haven’t engaged with you online, and easily communicate your company and value proposition.

Our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, recently hosted a webinar alongside Orlando Realtor® and ReferralExchange member, Nicole Mickle, to share how to strategically use social media to generate business-sustaining referrals. During the webinar, Lisa and Nicole covered the following:

  • Benefits of the most popular social channels
  • Essential tips and tools to help you generate referrals from social media

Snapchat continues to be a valuable platform for storytelling and sharing content and tips. Here are a few ideas on how you can use Snapchat for your business:

  • Show how to use a new tool or provide tips.
  • Share a “behind-the-scenes” look at a listing or open house.
  • Send your clients videos and pictures from a house tour and ask for their feedback.
  • Create a geofilter for your open house to promote the property and your brand.

Just like Snapchat, Instagram offers several ways to engage and reach audiences online. Nicole, an Instagram pro, who has received numerous referrals using the social channel, highlighted the importance of sharing a variety of content and not making your posts all about business. Visit her page (@iorlandorealestate) and you’ll quickly see she is the local expert in her area as she shares design ideas, new restaurants/shops, properties she has just sold, local news, inspirational quotes and more on her page. Most importantly, she reminds users to be themselves and be authentic. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Showcase special features (e.g., views, pools) of a home and the neighborhood (e.g., restaurants, amenities, indoor/outdoor lifestyle benefits).
  • Make Instagram your virtual catalog or home magazine.
  • Use Instagram stories to share listings (always ask clients for approval first) and a sneak peek into your personal and business life.
  • Post “sold-property” pictures and thank those involved in the process/care of their client.
  • Use different hashtags in posts to promote reach (e.g., #homebuying, #orlandorealestate, #newconstruction).

Facebook Live is another way agents are taking advantage of real-time video because most everyone is already on the platform. To make the most of Facebook Live, make sure you go live when your viewers are online, create snappy titles for your videos, respond to comments quickly, and share your video everywhere. Here’s how you can use Facebook Live to generate awareness and new business:

  • Share live behind the scene videos before, during, and after staging a home or hosting an open house.
  • Create contests and ask your audiences to guess where you are.
  • Host a live Q&A on different topics.
  • Post live video showings and quick “how-to” videos.

Many of these content ideas can be easily adapted across all social channels — it just depends which of those channels you are most comfortable using and who your target audience is.  It’s critical to ask your clients which channels they’re using since you want them — and future clients like them — to see what you’re posting.

Regardless of which channels you are using, it’s important to always be consistent, relevant, and don’t be afraid to have fun.

Access the webinar recording and learn more about these social channels here.  

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By Elizabeth Christensen, Placester 

As a real estate professional, your time is limited and your tasks are many, which means you need to make the most of your website to attract, capture, and nurture the best leads for your business. By providing the right content in an appealing way, you’ll not only increase engagement on your site, you’ll also build trust necessary to secure leads’ contact information so you can start creating strong in-person connections. There are pages proven to increase traffic and conversion, and this post highlights the top ones. Scroll through to watch our webinar which features the best tips for creating these for your site!

Below you’ll find the top lead-generating pages you must create for your real estate website:

1. An Eye-Catching Homepage

This page is the first impression people have of your brand. It needs to be thoughtfully laid out with clear navigation to all the important pages on your site, your contact details, and enticing pieces of content.

2. Agent Info Page

Include your professional story here. Explain why you’re passionate about real estate and showcase your personality. Your prospects will be curious about your start in the business and what sets you apart from other agents in the area.

3. Attractive IDX Pages

IDX pages allow you to feature the specific areas you work in on your site. Your prospects have the ability to filter listings by price, neighborhood, or property type. This is the spot to feature your most popular listings to ensure they are seen by your leads.

4. Active Blog

A regularly updated blog is a great driver of traffic to your site. Posts should be a mix of information, visuals, and entertainment. You can talk about your favorite parts of the community, provide lots of how-to articles, or give more details about homes in the area.

5. Detailed Community Pages

Community and Area pages provide a space to feature all the market data and cultural aspects of your community to your site visitors. This is where you share everything that makes your community desirable. Include photos and videos of cultural events, descriptions of popular businesses, historical attractions, and top-notch school and medical facilities.

6. Resources for Homebuyers/Sellers

This page will be a major resource to your leads. Include data on the homes you sell here, and share any neighborhood reports, buyer/seller checklists, or marketing reports so your prospects have an analytical idea of the types of homes you sell.

7. Home Valuation Page

This page offers tools to help sellers decide when to list, and gives buyers an idea of the value of homes in an area. Include comparative market analyses (CMAs) behind lead capture forms so people can compare the value of their home to others in the neighborhood.

8. Email Newsletter Sign-Up

Consumers check their email multiple times a day, and email is proven to be one of the most effective marketing tactics, so newsletters are a great lead generation tool. Once again, set the newsletter sign-up behind a lead capture form, and use your newsletters to provide different types of content to your prospects so they remain informed and keep your business top-of-mind.

9. Consultation Scheduling

A prospect visits this page when they’re serious about making a purchasing decision. When setting up an in-person meeting with someone, provide your full contact information and any relevant details about your brand and your office that will inform the client.

10. Client Testimonials

Testimonials gives potential leads a clear idea of what it’s like to work with you. Select only your most recent and glowing reviews for this section. Positive word-of-mouth can do wonders for your real estate business.

Blog feature: Placester gives you everything you need to promote your brand, manage relationships, and grow your real estate business online, all in one convenient platform that’s simple to use. Want more tips and tricks on creating lead-generating pages for your website? Listen to Placester’s exclusive webinar for additional insight.

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Last week, we hosted a webinar with RE Technology to share 65 ways you can build your referral business. We were also joined by Ginger Childs, a top-producing agent at RE/MAX Achievers, who has been a member of the ReferralExchange network for nine years. The webinar covered how to:

  • Identify new sources of referral business.
  • Use your current database to generate nationwide business.
  • Expand your sphere of influence to cover the entire country.

As an agent, it’s important to think “any” and “every” — meaning “any” one, “every” where should know that you are a real estate agent. Any conversation, connection, or contact can turn into a referral opportunity. Wearing branded apparel such as a hat, polo shirt, scarf, or name-tag are just a few of the ways to show others what you do. Referral opportunities are all around you, and can be easily found in the groups listed below.

Group 1: Friends, families, acquaintances. When starting your business, your friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, spouse, and children should be your go-to source for referrals. These are the people in your traditional and immediate sphere of influence, who know you the best. You can reach these individuals via social media postings, holiday updates, social activities, sponsorship of friends/family events (e.g., family reunions) or by sharing your family tree with family members (e.g., Ancestry.com). For Ginger, the people she has met at her local gym over the years have been an excellent source of referrals.

Group 2: Not-so-chance encounters. These are referral opportunities that you discover in places you wouldn’t typically expect — vacation, business travel, shopping, errands, or garage and estate sales. Wearing branded apparel with your logo during these chance encounters can often spark conversation and create new business opportunities. Ginger for example, always wears her RE/MAX pin whenever she is out of the house. Don’t be afraid to say hello and get to know people — after all, these are how relationships are formed. Think up ways to bring up your real estate expertise/profession in advance — but be careful not to oversell yourself. Ginger makes a point to get out of the house at least once a day to hand out, at the minimum, five business cards. She stated, “When people get to know you, they trust you.”

Group 3: Professional contacts. Professional contacts such as your doctor, dentist, veterinarian attorney, accountant, financial planner, or insurance salesman are all sources who could recommend you to their loyal clients and people they know. This is a unique group because, like yourself, they are the subject matter experts in their fields and there is a higher trust level associated with them. They also have a pulse on the community, knowing when their clients are moving in or out of the area.

Group 4: Service contacts. Your service contacts might include your hair salon, drycleaner, nail salon, tailor, coffee shop, restaurant, florist, packing store, alarm company, or storage company. These businesses that you frequently visit also have a good sense of what is going on in the community, because that’s their daily customer. It’s important to nurture these relationships and make sure that they know what you do as well.

Group 5: Business focused. This group includes business-related contacts in the industry: FSBOs, builders, ex-agents, appraisers, seminar leads, moving companies, out-of-area buyers, mortgage consultants, open house prospects, floor repair/carpet/wood, contractors/roofers, painters, stagers, sellers moving to another city or state or past clients and their friends/family members.

There are several ways you can stay top-of-mind with your professional, service, and business contacts such as exchanging business cards, offering discount coupons from preferred vendors to your clients and creating flyers with their names for new homeowners. Often, if you refer business to them, they will reciprocate.

Group 6: Organizations, associations, groups. Simply put, people like working with people who have similar interests. These referral opportunities can be found in your book club, charity group, alumni association, sports team/league, church/synagogue, health/country club, men’s/women’s clubs, homeowner associations, and parent/teacher/school association. Connect with these individuals and generate awareness of what you do by holding a home buying/selling seminar, advertising, writing an article for a newsletter, getting a group of people from your office to volunteer, or by sponsoring key events. Ginger shared that she creates packets to drop off at different local businesses and clubs to establish herself as the “go-to” real estate resource in her community.

Group 7: Corporate relocation/partnership. This could include a military base, boarding school, regional retailers, local sports team, universities/colleges and small- to mid-sized companies in your area. Many of these companies and organizations don’t have a partnership with a relocation service; make it easy to serve as the relocation partner for these businesses and organizations by helping them find a home in your community, and using the ReferralExchange network to find them a top agent when they are moving out of the area.

Group 8: Advertising/marketing. The last group includes the different platforms you can use to virtually promote yourself including social media, web advertising, lead purchase programs, local paper/website/radio/TV, just-sold/just-listed postcards, and telemarketing. When marketing your services through these different channels and platforms, it’s important to hyper focus your targeting (e.g., ZIP codes, areas, demographics, language), follow up on your leads as soon as possible and adhere to the 80/20 rule — give the ones you don’t want to work to someone else.

Regardless of which groups you use to grow your business, there’s also a lot of value in expanding your network nationwide. For example, if you have clients moving out of the area or someone with a real estate need outside your preferred price point, there is still an opportunity there to assist them. As an agent, you can utilize nationwide coverage by focusing on what you do best — giving your clients the best real estate experience.

Catch the full webinar recording here and make sure to download our Referral Planner and Eguide.

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Our team just returned from an insightful and exciting five days in New York City for Inman Connect – an event where 3,500 of the best and brightest in the real estate industry come together to network and share ideas. It may just be us, but it feels like the week goes by quicker and quicker each year. Time flies when you’re having fun!

The Marriott Marquis in Times Square was buzzing with top influencers and leaders from the industry sharing innovative ideas and valuable content. Ask anyone, and they will tell you—the people make the conference, and the energy is simply contagious. We’re already looking forward to Inman Connect SF, so as we count down until August, we’ll count down our favorite moments from Inman Connect NY.

7) Sponsoring Inman’s CEO Connect. We had the pleasure of sponsoring Inman’s CEO Connect event this year at the New York Times headquarters. Our CEO, Scott Olsen, and VP of Business Development, Myron Lo, attended the event and enjoyed hearing from and meeting some of the industry’s top leaders and innovators. Key highlights included an industry overview from Trulia’s economist who discussed themes for 2017 and stressed the importance of compression of the transaction, noted that consumer confidence is high but partisan, and predicts mortgage rates won’t go above five or five and half percent. During the female leadership panel, all three of the women in real estate knew Donald Trump personally and professionally, and shared that they were optimistic about his presidency.

6) Meeting with our current and prospective partners. Amidst the chaos of the conference, we managed to schedule time to catch up with our current partners, including the Council of Residential Specialists, Down Payment Resource, and Giveback Homes, just to name a few. We’ve also got some exciting opportunities in development with Concierge Auctions and Katie Lance Consulting.

5) Reconnecting with the Inman Ambassadors. If this was your first Inman Conference, you probably saw a group of people running around tirelessly making connections, answering questions, Snapchatting, and tweeting. These are the Inman Ambassadors—a group of leaders in the industry and Inman Connect veterans who are led by Joe Schutt and Laurie Weston Davis. It was great reconnecting with them as well as with other ambassadors, including Nikki Beauchamp, Wendy Foreman, Danielle Riley, Sara Sutachan, and Billy Ekofo.

4) Sallie Krawcheck: Own It! The Power of Women at Work. As we mentioned earlier, Inman attracts the best and brightest—and, CEO and co-founder of the digital investment platform for women, Sallie Krawcheck, was no exception. Sallie shared insights on some of the challenges she faced working as a financial analyst. She spoke about the need for companies to be more diverse, explaining, “There is such power in diversity. A crowd full of difference makes better results.”

3) Diana Nyad: Execution Perfection When Your Life Depends on It. Inman Connect is known for having exceptional keynote speakers. Last August at Inman Connect SF, the keynote speaker was serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and this time it was champion swimmer, author and speaker Diana Nyad. Diana shared her epic journey of completing the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64. Her biggest message to the audience was simple: don’t quit. Regardless of where you want to go, what you want to do, or who you want to be, never give up. She concluded her inspiring talk by reminding us, “When you achieve your dream, it’s not about what you get, but who you become.”

2) Hosting a party with BoomTown and BomBomb. On Wednesday night, we took a brain break from the conference to host a party alongside BoomTown and BombBomb at Bowlmor Times Square. It was a fun night, filled with catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and brushing up on our bowling skills. A big thanks to everyone who came out and joined us!

1) Seeing our ReferralExchange members. By far, our favorite part of any conference is getting to see our network members in person. A special thank you to our agents who stopped by our kiosk including Michael Hines, Chris Chapin, Ray Lord, Travis Waller, Lance Levine, and Christina Valkanoff. Our talented network of top agents is the foundation of our business and we couldn’t do what we do without you!

If you missed the conference altogether, check out the #ICNY hashtag on Twitter for pictures and coverage from the week!

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“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted referral. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.” –Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook  

As a new year begins, it’s important to nurture your referral network in a variety of ways so that you continue to stay top-of-mind. Keep your contacts organized and updated in a Google drive or CRM to make your interactions with them more effective. Recording notes on each person such as when you last spoke with them and important details (e.g., dog lover, five kids) or notable dates (e.g., birthdays, relocation), will guide when and how you reach out to them. You could even take it a step further by ranking your referral source database so you can prioritize and thank your “VIP referrers.” Use this valuable information to inform your interactions with your referral network both online and offline.

Online

It’s 2017, so yes – there are endless ways to stay top-of-mind in this digital world we live in.

  • Add your trusted referral network to your monthly newsletter or email list
  • Consistently share valuable content on your blog
  • Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn
  • Host a live Q&A session on Facebook or Twitter to answer questions
  • Send them an email to check in
  • Invite them to your upcoming webinar
  • Alert them when vendors are offering discounted services such as painting, gutter cleaning or leaf blowing in the fall

Offline

As creative as you can get with engaging online, there is nothing more impactful than in-person connections.

  • Pop-by their office or home with a thoughtful gift
  • Host a client appreciation party or event (e.g., sports game, happy hour)
  • Send them a handwritten thank you note or holiday card
  • Treat them to a cup of coffee at a new local café
  • Invite them to your seminar or speaking engagement
  • Meet up with old clients who have relocated when you’re in their city for work
  • Pick up the phone to check in and say hello

Regardless of how you stay in touch with your sphere of influence, it’s imperative to nurture these relationships both online and offline. At the end of the day, if they or someone they know has a real estate need, you want them to immediately think of one person: you.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

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“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.” —Albert Schweitzer

The holidays are a great time to pause, reflect and recharge. It’s also a great time to give back to those who are less fortunate.

We recently joined our partner Giveback Homes on an unforgettable build trip to Nicaragua to help build a home for the Garcia family — who, like many, are living in inadequate housing. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, we worked alongside several Giveback Homes members, as well as Lion & Orb and Concierge Auctions to give the family of eight a safe and stable place to call home. You can view pictures from the trip here.

In the spirit of giving, we wanted to share five easy ways you can give back this holiday season:

  1. Collect used coats, clothes or toys at your office to donate. Donating your gently-used coats is a great way to clean out your closet while giving back. Our Sacramento offices are currently gathering coats and toys to donate to One Warm Coat for local needy families.
  2. Give to a charitable organization in your client’s name. Consider personalizing your donation by choosing a cause close to your client’s heart: animal shelters for pet owners, a children’s hospital for families, third world entrepreneurs for business moguls, etc. Giveback Homes also has both local and international build projects you can donate to on behalf of your client.
  3. Get active while giving back. Consider signing up for a charity race to raise money for a good cause. A local Jingle 5k Walk/Run asked for participants to bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to local families in need. You could even invite your clients, family and friends to join you!
  4. Host a benefit event. Hosting a benefit event such as a dinner, office party or happy hour is a great way to get others in your community (i.e., co-workers, family and friends, clients) involved too. You could ask guests to bring an item to contribute, host a silent auction or donate all proceeds from the event to a local cause.
  5. Volunteer your time. Donating items or writing a check is great, but giving your time can sometimes be the most rewarding and greatest gift of all. Visiting a nursing home, volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping Wreaths Across America with wreath-laying ceremonies are all things that require only a bit of your time.

If you’re interested in giving beyond the holidays, check out this blog post to see how you can integrate social giving into your business all year long.

Want to join the Giveback Homes movement? Sign-up today, and enter REX as your Building Code to receive the special Pro Member plan rate of $25/month.

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“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  — Antoine De Saint Exupéry

With less than 40 days left in the year, it’s absolutely time to get ready for 2017. Real estate broker, writer, and speaker, Melissa Zavala, recently joined us for a webinar to share how to clearly define your vision and develop the success strategies necessary to create a game-changing business plan for 2017. Melissa discussed how to:

  • Set personal and professional goals you can achieve.
  • Identify potential obstacles and how you can easily overcome them.
  • Adjust your attitude to stay on track.
  • Stay focused on the right things by using three time-management tips.
  • Implement five hot prospecting and marketing ideas.
  • Measure your success.

As you wrap up 2016, don’t wait until January to start planning and preparing your business for next year.

Understand the market of the moment. Given the recent election, it is crucial that you understand how the new presidency could impact the field of real estate. Melissa referenced articles about this topic in Inman and Forbes. She stressed the importance of reading these articles so that you and your team can react and adapt to market changes.

Review your 2016 performance. Melissa shared her production analysis chart to help agents assess their business in 2016. This chart includes reviewing your transactions and writing down the address, sales price, source, whether it was a buyer or seller who merited the transaction, the community, and the property type. Tip: if you’ve received a lot of business from one specific source, make sure you thank them by sending them something special during the holidays. Melissa also suggested looking at your sources of business, which may have included open houses, cold calls, door knocking, social media, email marketing, referral networks, FSBOs, your personal website, etc. This will help you understand what is working well and what areas and sources of business to explore in 2017.

Identify your strengths. One of the most helpful things you can do is to conduct a DISC Assessment on yourself. A DISC Assessment (Decisive [dominance], Interactive [interpersonal], Stability, Cautious) is a behavioral traits assessment to help you identify your areas of strength. Melissa noted that ninety-five percent of mega-team leaders in real estate show to be “Decisive” and “Interpersonal.” Once you know your own strengths, you can select activities geared toward your strong points for your business, thereby leveraging your personal strengths to become more successful. Simply Google “Free DISC Assessment” to find an online test.

List the best uses of your time. What income-producing activities are you best at? What are the best uses of your time? For example, Melissa makes the most of her time by creating her email newsletter — something she enjoys doing that also provides value to others. A bad use of her time would include answering the phones in their property management division to handle maintenance issues. Simply put, spend your time on things you enjoy doing and are good at.

Consider time wasters. List all the real estate activities that can be done by someone else. This might include delivering signs or flyers, meeting a home inspector or scanning documents. Ask yourself: Do I have to do this myself or can someone else do it for me? Delegate these tasks to someone else so that you can focus on income activities.

Identify support staff. Don’t let the “but-it-only-takes-a-few-minutes” excuse trap you into doing tasks you should leave for others. Identify support staff and determine what things you can offload. It’s also worth seeing if preferred providers (e.g., sales representatives, lenders) may be able to help you. For instance, if your client gives you a document that needs to be delivered to the lender, see if someone from the lender’s office or the settlement company sales rep can pick it up from you. You may be surprised how many people around you can save you time.

Create a process for everything you do. Make a list of activities that you consistently do, then write down or record a video of the process for each activity. If there is a process for it, you may not have to do it yourself. Once you do that, create a training manual for areas of business that require processes such as listing management, social media posting, transaction file management, email marketing, internet lead management, and expired or FSBO prospecting.

Create a schedule. Working in real estate can be unpredictable, but you can schedule repeat activities each week to increase productivity. Use a scheduling app that syncs across all your devices, and try not to break the schedule unless there is an emergency (an angry client does not count). Creating a regular schedule that you stick to will have long-term benefits for your business. In addition, everything needs to be on your calendar as it will increase the likelihood that you do it.

Put systems on autopilot. Think about which daily activities can be on autopilot and which ones require minimal human intervention. Here are a few ideas:

  • Drip Campaigns: RSS drip campaigns allow you to send content (e.g., blogs, news) out from your website once per week, and you can easily add new emails to the list.
  • Property Alerts: These are automated daily or weekly alerts as properties come on the market. Internet leads can easily opt-in for automated alerts and you can manually add any buyer prospects.
  • Inbound Marketing Campaigns: Create plans and pathways for different inbound marketing campaigns and use automated responses when applicable.
  • Social Media Posting: Schedule posts in advance and outsource posting when applicable. Use posting platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule and post content across multiple platforms. In addition, make sure you are tracking your results through social media monitoring tools or Google Analytics. Surprisingly, only 45% of marketing CEOs know their results.

Melissa shared her top tools to help you succeed which includes a good CRM, Evernote, Dropbox, calendar app, social media management platform, a reliable email provider, and a solid daily and weekly plan.

Catch the full webinar recording here and organize, prioritize, and strategize for 2017 by downloading Melissa’s Pipeline Planner.

Webinar Recap: The Power of Giving

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“The secret to happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” –Dan Dennett

 

Last week we sat down with Caroline Pinal, co-founder of Giveback Homes, a company that empowers real estate agents to turn their everyday business into an opportunity for social change.

Caroline, who previously worked at TOMS, has always been passionate about making social giving a priority, and inspiring others to do the same. She shared how to:

  • Develop a social-giving plan that works for your business
  • Identify giving partners
  • Determine how much to donate
  • Easily jump-start your giving efforts, no matter your resources

Simply put, doing good is good for business — and integrating social giving into your business has never been easier. Here’s just how simple it can be.

  • Find the “why” for your giving efforts. Why are you doing this? What’s your motivation? What are you passionate about? It’s important to first take the time to figure out why you want to make giving a priority and what causes you to want to connect your business with your passion.
  • Do your due diligence and identify giving partners. Rather than just donating to the first charity that pops up on Google, make sure you do your research on the organizations and charities you are interested in. Charity Navigator enables you to browse and find charities by category to consider (e.g., animals, education, environment, health). Taking the time to vet the organization early on will help ensure your money is going to the right place.
  • Quantify donations, set goals, and celebrate milestones. Sharing how much your business has donated is great, but take it a step further by quantifying the difference you made (e.g., five homes built, 60 gallons of water saved). In addition, setting goals for your giving efforts are just as significant as your business goals — and once you reach them you can celebrate those milestones. Not sure how much you should donate? Caroline recommends starting small and scaling from there. After all, it’s most important to find the right giving partner that will make the biggest impact.
  • Collect and share stories. So how do you share the amazing work you are doing for your community? Through stories. Storytelling is one of the best ways to share your philanthropic efforts and inspire others to share the stories, too. Just as an agent might share their testimonials and client success stories, those same tactics can be applied to sharing how you are giving back. Sharing pictures, writing a blog post and posting on social media are all easy and free outlets for sharing these compelling stories with your customers.
  • Get involved and fully integrate giving into your business. It’s important to find other ways to get involved in addition to making donations. This may include volunteering or inviting your clients to join you at a giving event. For example, Giveback Homes invites their members to join them at local job sites across the country to help build homes for families in need. Check out pictures from the ReferralExchange Build Day in Sacramento.
  • Simplify your message and beware of “cause washing.” Cause washing is inauthentic marketing for good, e.g., brands saying they are giving back more than they are — which is why it’s imperative to be as authentic and transparent as possible with your giving efforts. Don’t just say that you give, show it. When you simplify your message, and giving strategy, it’s easy to remember. Give Realty for example, donates 25% to a non-profit of their clients’ choice at the end of each transaction.
  • Start small, then scale and be flexible. To set yourself up for success, take it step by step. Start small, then figure out what’s working and scale it from there. Be true to your business, know your strengths and weaknesses, and be open to changing it up if you need to. Take things slowly, give responsibly, and do what is most meaningful to you and your customers.

Wherever your social-giving efforts take you, make sure to be authentic; remember it’s okay to start small, be consistent and take time to find the right organization with which to align your giving efforts.

CHALLENGE: Donate time or dollars to a cause you’ve never donated to before. Take note of your experience (e.g., what you liked, how it made you feel) and let Caroline know how you felt and if it had any effect on your giving strategy: caroline@givebackhomes.com.

 

Interested in joining the Giveback Homes movement? Sign-up today, and enter REX as your Building Code to receive the special Pro Member plan rate of $25/month.

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 Photo via Stylish Detroit

With the rise of digital marketing and demand for compelling visual content, real estate agents now have to use a wide variety of tactics to reach and engage with their audiences across all platforms. With a heavy reliance on visual images to sell properties, it makes sense that social media is now a great platform to circulate listings.

Without well-shot photographs and carefully crafted captions or hashtags, however, you’ll have trouble driving any real leads from social. Make the most of your efforts with these six tips, which will help improve your listing photos to increase social media engagement.

 

1. Check your Equipment

High-quality photos usually come from a digital single-lens reflex, most commonly referred to as a DSLR, such as Nikon and Cannon—and that camera doesn’t come cheap.

Luckily, the camera on the new iPhone 7 is just as good, featuring a dual lens camera with a wide-angle lens. What’s most exciting is its ability to take pictures with a larger depth of field, according to a new CouponBox review, allowing you to capture high-quality images on a device you may already have or be planning to update to.

Pro tip: Play with the settings, just as you would with a DLSR, to make sure each photo you take is optimized for the home you’re in.

 

2. Take Advantage of the Golden Hour

This is the perfect time to photograph your listings, according to CoSchedule. During “Golden hour,” which happens within an hour of sunrise or sunset, the lighting is just right.

If you’re too late for the golden hour, brighten up darker rooms by turning on an overhead light, adding a lamp in a strategic place or even renting professional lights and knock out a few shoots in one day.

Pro tip: In a pinch, brighten your photos with a basic or low-priced editor, or using a filter in Instagram.

 

3. Set the Scene

When people invest in a home, they’re looking for a place to build their life. Showing them what life could look like inside the home is one of the most important parts of taking listing photos that will increase engagement and drive buyers.

However, that doesn’t mean you want the home to look “lived in” with messy covers and baby toys sprawled across the floor. Before taking any photos, follow this simple checklist:

  • Remove any personal touches such as picture frames or magnets.
  • Replace worn-out furnishings.
  • Check the curtains: Should they be opened all the way or just slightly? (This will help you find the best natural lighting)
  • Find the top feature of the room and highlight that.

Pro tip: If you feature unique interior details, use relevant hashtags to engage with interior designers to get your listing reposted for more potential buyers to see.

 

4. Think Unique Selling Points

When you’re taking photos of a listing, consider what unique selling points your photographs can capture and then share those on your social sites. Include a link back to the listing page so those who are interested can see the rest of the photos by clicking through.

Pro tip: Each week, post a photo highlighting an amazing feature of a new home. These more “interesting” photos will draw people to follow and engage with you. Use one of these popular real estate hashtags to make sure your photo is seen.

 

5. Make a Collage

Once you’ve taken the photos, a collage may be the best way to boost your social media engagement. “Splitting the main listing photo, as a collage, allows a potential homeowner to immediately see an interior and exterior shot. Because our homes are beautifully staged, the split listing photo gets a lot of attention and sets it apart from every other one in the MLS and online,” explains Paul Moore, founder of Smith Mountain Homes.

Pro tip: Use Instagram’s built-in tool to quickly and easily to design, edit and share. Connect your account to Facebook and Twitter, and share on all three platforms at once.

 

6. Use Hashtags

Once you post your photo, the caption should be carefully crafted to resonate with your audience and spark engagement, complete with hashtags.

However, not all hashtags are created equal. They should be relevant to your industry, audience and location. Finally, don’t go overboard; research has found that 7 hashtags are the sweet spot for increasing engagement on Instagram, and just 3 to 4 is ideal on Twitter. As a social media marketer, I’ve seen this work first-hand.

Pro tip: Find hashtags that are trending in your area, since you’ll likely be looking to attract engagement from people locally. For example, Greenville SC has a trending hashtag, #yeahTHATgreenville, that consistently gets engagement. Posting a new listing in Greenville along with the #yeahTHATgreenville is a great way to get engagement and brand impressions.

 

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and been in social media and content marketing for five. She’s currently a full-time blogger and has been written for Lifehack, Inman, Reader’s Digest, Homes.com, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.