Like every other industry on Earth, the real estate world was forced to find new ways of doing business virtually overnight back in March of 2020. Since then, we’ve seen one of the most disruptive real estate markets in memory. As an industry, we’ve been lucky. Technology in our space has evolved to such a degree that it has become a game-changer, allowing us to automate, personalize, and connect in new and relevant ways.
Across the industry, Real Estate companies have been early adopters to technology. Even pre-pandemic agents cultivated cold online leads to viable clients and conducted business transactions 100% remotely. The pandemic has heightened the usage and need for technology and even in the midst of a complete global shutdown, the industry not only survived, it thrived.
Why have high-tech innovations helped real estate so much recently? Because they have allowed us to do what we do best–building relationships and trust—but now agents are enabled to do so from a distance. Real estate professionals have displayed a remarkable ability to use new (and old) online tools to bring people closer together, at a time when we had to stay apart. We’ve adapted these technologies and made them our own by focusing on the human connection instead of the latest fad. Rather than allowing tech to overwhelm us, we’ve used it to enhance our brands, at scale.
As Phillip King, principal product manager for ServiceLink said, “a lot of the technology was there. It was just a matter of figuring out how do we adopt that technology, put it in play and use it at scale.”
Simon Chen, EVP of Product and Innovation at Realogy noted, “the pace of innovation has increased dramatically over the past few years.”
Our ability to use tech to create meaningful connections is a triumph for our industry. But… it does raise some important questions. As consumers embrace and utilize online real estate tools, how do brokers and agents adapt, network and brand-build online? How can we stay true to who we are while leveraging the power of the Internet to find work, attract new clients, and recruit new agents? Even more so, how does an agent build a professional network of experts and mentors when face-to-face events are few and far between for the near future?
We asked Dawn Perry, Realogy’s SVP of Strategic Cross-Brand Marketing, to weigh in on these meaningful questions and more:
The Single Greatest Hurdle for Agents
Q: What would you say has been the single greatest hurdle for agents to overcome during the pandemic, in terms of building their network?
Dawn: At the start it was uncertainty – we were all questioning the right ways to move forward. Should we even spend money on marketing, prospecting and farming for prospective home buyers and sellers when we do not know if anyone would be interested in moving? When we realized that consumers were more than willing and in fact eager to move, agents transitioned to an on-demand type business model. The business just came to them. Real estate is cyclical and this has happened before. But, the challenge with this increased volume is that handling the here and now without thinking of the later isn’t a successful long-term strategy. Real estate ebbs and flows, and while we are in a sellers’ market now, we know that the tide will turn – it always does. How will an agent set themselves up for success if they do not take time to continue to build their sphere of influence even when times are good? Well, the main complaint I hear now is that I’m way too busy to worry about nurturing a customer for a future event. That is 100% true for our best agents but then, hire someone to nurture them for you. Get an assistant or pay it forward and help one of the newest agents by letting them work your leads for you.
Emerging Tools and Technology
Q: What is the most essential technological tool for networking that didn’t exist five years ago?
Dawn: Good networking comes from being present and engaged. So, I would say that being active in online “groups” in general–whether it’s a Facebook group, leadership group on LinkedIn, or a Peloton Team–is a smart strategy. Agents can find groups that motivate and inspire them, and then actively (and authentically) engage within those groups to build a stronger online/virtual network.
Networking and Mentorship for New Agents
Q: What are some best practices for an agent who is just starting out and wants to build their network?
Dawn: Identify a mentor. I purposely didn’t say find a mentor. Many times, you already have a go-to resource who is acting like a mentor without the official title. Who is that person? Find a way to acknowledge them. If you truly don’t have someone serving in this capacity, then connect to one through your engagement with your network. It starts with a conversation so you need to be willing to put yourself out there and ask questions too.
Virtual Brand Building
Q: In a business that is all about trust and personal relationships, how can agents build their brand virtually—often without meeting clients face to face? What have successful agents been doing to engage with their market and prospective clients in new and interesting ways?
Dawn: Personal does not need to equate to “in person.” Show yourself to the world. If you’re not comfortable with a video post, then try some fun Instagram photos and captions. What expertise do you provide as an agent that sets you apart from the sea of agents around you? Do you like to hike and have 10 favorite spots in the area? Shoot a video while on the trail and explain why you love it. You will show that not only do you know something about hiking, but you also have a point of view or local expertise that is worth sharing—and this can be another point of connection.
I think the best advice I can share is to be authentic in your interactions. Make space for others and their opinions, and you will be successful at building a meaningful network of friends and colleagues that are supportive and engaging. Plus, you’ll even have some fun along the way.
Building Your Virtual Network
How have you grown your network virtually? Do you have any tips or best practices you’d like to share? Let us know. Email us at WhatMovesHer@realogy.com or share with us on Facebook or LinkedIn – we want to hear what’s been working for you.