The first five essential practices for new agents I would like to share are all about Active Rain. I've learned more by being a part of this community than anything other than actually listing and selling homes. What you learn here helps you get to that part and helps build the foundation for your future in real estate.
1. Active Rain: Blog about communities in your market area.
Learn as much as you can about communities in your market area and blog about them. Go out and take photos of the neighborhood sign, the pool area, playground and any other amenities and include them in your post. Write about price range and how quickly home listings are selling. Include brief information about the schools, shopping, and medical facilities near the community. Nothing short of listing and selling in a community will help you learn more about your market than blogging. Before writing a post, you are forced to do the research and you are a step ahead by having gained that knowledge.
2. Active Rain: Read the posts.
I discovered Active Rain after six months as an agent, and I had far more questions than I had answers. My real estate course had essentially taught me how to pass the state test, which was the easy part. Once I joined Active Rain, I felt like I had hit the information jackpot. I got up every morning, got my cup of tea, and sat down in front of my computer to read blog posts. There's a wealth of information here about the real life of agents, lenders, and other professionals, as well as the challenges they face and how they overcome them.
3. Active Rain: Network, network, network.
I can't think of a better place to meet agents and other real estate professionals across the country than Active Rain. Read their posts, leave a comment, follow them. Building relationships here can lead to great friendships, and yes, referrals. It took me a while to figure this one out since I was so focused on community blogs and reaching real estate consumers. Building relationships here is an important part of helping you stay the course, even if you never receive a single referral.
4. Active Rain: Participate in the information-packed webinars presented by Active Rain.
I've found no better source for learning about technology in the real estate industry. Not only will you learn the best ways to get your content noticed by search engines and in front of the public, you will open yourself to technology that can help you gain marketing strategies that get you known and help sell listings.
5. Active Rain: Learn who the experts are.
For example, if you want to learn more about how to make Facebook work for you, follow Anita Clark and join her group, "Facebook Fridays." If you want to learn more about mortgage loans, follow George Souto and Joe Petrowsky (sorry George, it wouldn't let me tag you). There are many others, these are just a few that offer great advice and expertise on specific topics.
6. Website: You need landing pages for your blog posts.
Community blog posts and consumer advice posts are great for getting consumers to click through and come to your blog. However, think about getting them to your website and getting their contact information. These are most commonly home buyers in the early stages of the process, and they rarely have an agent they plan to work with. Insert a link to the IDX on your website in your community blog posts. Those links send home buyers to your website to view listings, and if it's done right, they will sign up and you now have their contact information.
7. Open Houses: Do as many open houses as possible.
Talk to established agents in your office and ask them to allow you to hold their next open house. Plan and market your open house in advance, post a blog about it, and create some fliers with your contact information making sure that every visitor picks one up. Before the open house, walk the neighborhood and hand out fliers, and tell neighbors about the listing (chances are good that they want to know and they might even remember you when they list their home). When visitors show up, make sure they sign your guest registry and include their contact information. A little trick: fill out the first entry on the guest registry with FULL information, i.e., name, address, email, and phone number, and whether or not they are working with an agent. If they are working with an agent, ask them to list their agent's name, this way they are more likely to be honest about whether or not they have an agent.
8. Become known: Embed yourself in your community and build relationships.
If you aren't already volunteering with an organization in your area, decide on a cause that matters to you and participate as a volunteer. Don't choose something for the sole purpose of having a lead source, choose something you CARE about. If you don't care about it, it will show and other volunteers and organizers will not appreciate your lack of authenticity. Rather than gain leads you will lose credibility. Attend as many community events as possible and get to know the organizers, perhaps volunteering to work at community and area events would be right for you. But whatever you do, don't walk in with a stack of cards and start handing them out. Go in focused on giving to the cause and building relationships. When you stay the course, others will get to know you and they will find out what you do. Bring up your work only when it fits the situation or if someone asks.
9. Learn what not to do!
There can be as many don'ts in this business as there are do's. For example, read my post on what can happen when you overprice a listing. There are many posts of this type on Active Rain, so take time to read them. It can save you a lot of grief and frustration along with client relationships.
10. Keep track of what works and what brings you business.
Get rid of time and money wasters and focus on what works. Don't make the mistake of following the crowd, do what works for you. When you follow the crowd, you become another face among many. When I first learned about Active Rain, I was very excited about blogging. I love to write more than just about any hobby, and consider it one of my better skills. Think about what you are good at and find a way to make it a part of your strategy. Once you pinpoint what works, be consistent! =
Bonus Essential: Don't give up! Don't believe the naysayers, keep working at it. You can't succeed if you quit or fall into the trap of thinking you don't have what it takes. You do have what it takes! It takes time to develop the skills and traits that will help you build success, it doesn't happen overnight.
Advice for myself, follow my own advice.
Kate McQueen, REALTOR®, Houston Bay Area, League City-Bay Area Homes
Real Estate Agent / League City, TX
Keller Williams Realty Clear Lake NASA - Keller Williams Realty Inc.