By Bill Gassett
What do you think LinkedIn is for? Is it just for people who are trying to find a new job? Should you only visit it if you want to recruit somebody? Or is it one of the best ways to grow your real estate business? If you chose the third option, you are correct. In fact, HubSpot, reports that LinkedIn is three times more effective at generating business leads than Facebook or Twitter. And since leads result in more sales and more money in your pocket, it is clear that LinkedIn cannot be ignored.
Here are 10 ways real estate pros can effectively use LinkedIn to increase their online exposure.
1. Remember, It’s Not Facebook
First, it is crucial to realize that LinkedIn is not like your other social networking sites. This one is all about business, and you better keep things professional. So no sharing that funny meme your Aunt Linda showed you, and no posting pictures of what you are eating for dinner or your funny cat. There are plenty of other sites for that.
2. Make Sure Your Profile and Company Page Are Complete
Since you are a real estate practitioner and independent contractor, you have your own professional brand, thus, you should have both a personal profile and a Company Page. Each one should be filled out completely. Not only should every detail be included—like your website, links to your other social media profiles, any awards or certifications you have, and past companies you have worked for—but it should be displayed in a way that is easy to read and engaging.
3. Include Keywords
Just like you do with your website and blogs, your profile and Company Page should be keyword rich. When people want to find a “real estate agent in Massachusetts,” for example, you want to make sure you show up.
4. Share Plenty of Content
When you are deciding which content to share on LinkedIn, always have the goal of helping others, but make sure the type of information varies. On one day, post an informative article on a new development in real estate, and on the next, share an opinionated blog post about what agents are doing wrong. Make sure you’re not just sharing your own content. Those who are successful in social media understand that it can’t always be about YOU.
5. Publish Directly on LinkedIn
Not only should you be sharing loads of information, you should also be writing your own. One thing that makes LinkedIn unique is that it allows you to publish your content for all of LinkedIn to see. They are referred to as long-form posts, and you definitely need to be taking advantage of them. Not only does it make you look more credible when you have them on your profile, but they are searchable both on and off LinkedIn. People do not have to be in your network to view them, and they are able to connect with you directly from the post. This is an invaluable tool for growing your network and establishing your expertise in the real estate industry.
6. Study Your Analytics
LinkedIn is very generous in the amount of information they provide to you. They tell you exactly which of your posts received interactions and which ones didn’t. You should study these analytics thoroughly so that you can capitalize on what people like and avoid the stuff they don’t.
7. Connect With Everyone
There has never been, and never will be, a rule that you are only allowed to connect with people that you know on LinkedIn. You should do searches for locals in your area, other agents, home appraisers, mortgage brokers, and anyone else you want. The thing is, there is no such thing as too big of a network. You never know where each connection will lead you. Over the years, I have seen some really shortsighted agents who say, if they don’t know them then they won’t connect. This might be prudent thinking on Facebook, but not on LinkedIn!
8. Capitalize on LinkedIn Real Estate Groups
One of the hidden gems on LinkedIn is the group feature. They are the difference between agents who really drive traffic back to their website and those who don’t. However, there is a proper way to use them.
- According to the Social Media Examiner, you should look for groups within your industry—or groups that contain your target niche or market—that have enough members to get you exposure, but not so many that you get lost in the shuffle. Aim for between 1,000 and 5,000 members. You can also join a few of the larger groups for when you are sharing something of a more general nature.
- When you interact within the groups, remember that you are there to add value. You should respond to others’ questions, give your opinions, share advice, and ask questions that make people think. You should not post links to your site unless it is something of value.
- Don’t post your listings! I cannot emphasize this one enough. Real Estate agents are notorious for only thinking about promoting their listings. Social media is about forming relationships, not trying to sell to people. Do you think anyone goes to Linkedin groups to buy a home? I hope you realize the answer is no. This is one of the most annoying things real estate agents do in social media. What’s worse is there are some groups that spell out the fact you can’t post listings and some practitioners do it anyway. This is the perfect way to look like a fool in front of your peers.
- Don’t try to be active on too many groups at once, or you will not be able to provide anything useful to any of them. Instead, choose three or four that you really think could boost your exposure and make sure to check-in with them several times per week. Some excellent real estate groups to take a look at joining are The National Association of REALTORS®, Real Estate Professionals Group, and Real Estate Professional Referral Group.
- Once you are part of a conversation, don’t leave it unfinished. Always go back to see if anyone has responded to what you said.
- After you have established yourself within the group, you can start asking your own questions and solicit feedback. If you ask one that garners a lot of attention, you will even be featured as a top contributor within the group, increasing your visibility tenfold.
9. Start Your Own Group
If you are really ambitious, it could be time to found your own group. This puts you in the driver’s seat, and, if done correctly, can really catapult your recognition in the real estate industry. In order to set the precedent, you should set up an auto-email that goes out to all new members welcoming them to the group and setting the ground rules (like no soliciting). You can also let them know that you will be sending out weekly or monthly emails with industry resources and tricks of the trade.
10. Help Others
Finally, you should take a few minutes each day to endorse and recommend other people. They will appreciate the gesture and may even return the favor.
These are some of the best ways a real estate agent can use Linkedin to get meaningful results. Do you have any tips for successfully using LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below.
Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.
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By Jay O’Brien
We’ve all received the calls, opened the letters, and deflected the in-person pitches. Real estate is perhaps one of the only industries that attains its workforce through blind recruiting rather than interviewing.
It’s quite simply a numbers game for many brokerages, and the strategy becomes less about value creation for agents and more about the bait.
How do brokers attract more agents and (hopefully) retain them? Unfortunately, the most common misconception is the one that revolves around what truly motivates people: money. If money is truly the greatest motivator, the success of real estate agents would be through the roof since selling a home is the one and only way to get paid. Clearly, this is not the case. But when agents are looking to make a switch, we still hear the question time and time again: “What’s the commission split?”
This is not the question you should be asking. Let’s not forget, 90 percent of zero is still zero.
The relationship between a brokerage and an agent should be mutually beneficial, and monetary rewards should not be top priority. Don’t put the cart before the horse. First, start by asking yourself these questions:
- “What has my business looked like in the last year?”
- “Did I do more business each year? How much more?”
- “What are my biggest challenges right now?”
- “Where do I need coaching?”
- “What are my goals for this year, and the next, and the next?”
If you do not know the answer to all of these questions, how in the world is your broker going to know?
In such a heavily self-disciplined environment, it’s very easy to notice when a real estate agent becomes complacent. If there is a problem, struggle, or challenge, it’s very difficult to identify it and face it alone. Instead, an agent is more likely to think they are in the wrong office or behind the wrong brand. They might think an office change will correct their productivity.
It is paramount for an agent to position themselves with a person, or people rather than a brand, company, office, etc. The genuine growth of a real estate professional cannot be quantified in purely commission splits. Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Often, if the commission split ratios are dramatically skewed in the favor of the agent (especially from day one), then usually there is very little value being added from the brokerage. It’s simple business 101: You can’t spend more money than you make.
I am constantly looking to grow in various aspects of my own life, so I have a personal coach for several things: golf, yoga, CrossFit, AND business. If an office has promised you the moon and the stars along with a compensation plan that is too good to be true, something probably doesn’t smell right. I would venture to guess that most agents reading this would agree that doing 25 deals a year at 75 percent is much better than doing two at 90 percent.
With that, find your person, your mentor. Find someone who can hold you accountable and coach you to greatness. It is absolutely critical to your success. Take that path, and watch the money follow.
By Alyssa Hellman
Sometimes it seems like new real estate products are released every day. It’s easy to become distracted by trying every new marketing tool or tech gadget, but over time the luster fades and you’ve got to get back to business. Here are my five tips to tighten your real estate tool belt and decide what products you really need.
1. Get in touch with your local and state association. Your association doesn’t charge their dues just for membership. Most associations offer a slew of services that allow agents to operate their businesses effectively, yet many of these tools & services go unused simply because agents don’t know they exist! Explore your association’s offerings to see if there are free or discount offerings of tools you already use or things that would be helpful moving forward.
2. Have a plan and commit. Without a concrete plan of what you want to do, you make yourself susceptible to “shiny object syndrome” – using tools just because of hype rather than utility. Knowing what you want to deliver to clients (e.g. your niche or specialty, special services, company culture, or brand) should be guided by your plan with an eye on new tools, not the other way around.
3. Master your craft. I wouldn’t trust someone with a drill who has never used a screwdriver. Before you add to your tool belt, make sure you have mastered the tools that you already have. Or, make sure you contract with someone who has mastery of the tools. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades to deliver great service. Master your own craft and don’t be afraid to partner with other masters of their craft to deliver great service.
4. Network with your peers. Sure, you want to stand apart from the competition, but you can gain a lot from working with each other. Your clients choose you for you. I have learned about some of my favorite systems from my peers and continue to actively engage with them to learn from each other and grow professionally.
5. Know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’. Don’t feel the need to stay signed on with something you never use. As your business grows, it will evolve. Your tools will need to evolve too, so something that worked at one point, won’t always work later on. Be flexible in your business and evaluate your tools regularly to make sure they are still helping you, not holding you back.
Regardless of the products you choose, you must remember that they are just tools. At its core, real estate is a relationship business and your tools should always help you enhance, not distract, from your relationships.
Alyssa Hellman is the Go Leader at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website www.alyssahellman.com.