Some real estate agents enter the business with a huge sphere of influence from which to tap for their first deals. A lot of these agents are members of civic organizations, churches or philanthropic groups. Even parents active in the local PTA come to the business with a list of potential clients.
Sound a bit mercenary? On the contrary, using your community, social and familial contacts to help you make money isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s far worse, in a business sense, to have nobody to tap for referrals than it is to rely on your sphere of influence or those you meet during community involvement endeavors.
One would assume that the busier the real estate agent – the more successful his or her practice – the less likely he or she is to volunteer within the community. That assumption is wrong. Successful agents that understand the power of delegation and hire a staff, even if it’s one assistant, typically have a little time to devote to a community cause or to a personal passion.
Those that claim they don’t have time to get into the community, when asked how they give back, generally say they donate money. While donating to non-profits, charities, churches and other organizations is commendable, it is not really “community involvement.” Unless, of course, the checks you write are so huge that your signings draw a huge crowd from the community — giving doesn’t help build a database.
So, don’t let us stop you from writing those checks. We just hope you’ll consider giving some of your time as well.
The Internet has changed many things about the way agents run their businesses, including how they stay in touch with past clients and their spheres. But is social networking comparable to meeting face-to-face in the real world?
Take Google+, for instance. An anonymously-written piece at Diverse Solutions provides instructions for the lazy real estate agent’s way to remain involved in the community. “Lazy” because it can be done from your phone, your car, your desk but it doesn’t involve meeting anyone in person.
The idea presented is an amazing way to add additional social media to your marketing plan, with the bonus of enforcing your brand as the area expert. So, mingle online all you want, but it should be in addition to in-person involvement.
This is where the meat of your community involvement campaign is – those organizations for which you can contribute your time and talent and meet lots of folks from the community that you serve.
Activities, whether meetings, functions or events, are more relaxed than the typical real estate transaction, so people get to know you as a person, not as a real estate agent. Let’s face it – there isn’t much that distinguishes one agent from another but on a personal level, it’s easy to set yourself apart.
It’s so important to pick a cause for which you feel some sort of affinity – preferably a passion. This way you can focus your efforts on the cause and not the leads. The leads will come – just give it some time.
Tucson, Ariz. Agent Kim Murray writes about one of her volunteer projects in an old blog post at ActiveRain. She offered her time to fill several roles for the Accenture Match Play Golf Championship. Murray readily admits that she chose this event because it was being held in her territory and she thought it might be an ideal way to help generate leads for her real estate practice.
And, it paid off. In one day she was able to mix and mingle with hundreds of folks that live in her target community.
What she didn’t expect, however, was the bonus: “In addition to all the above listed networking, I came away with a deeper attachment to the community as a result of the wonderful people I met on that day.”
The problem you may run up against when you first consider getting involved in the local community is trying to choose which organization. The sheer volume of volunteer opportunities in many cities is astounding.
Of course, if you have a passion – say for helping veterans or tutoring children – half the battle is won right there. If you have lots of interests, do some online research to help pare down the choices. Here are several places to start:
Civic clubs are great ways to get to know other people in town. Lions Club is the king of civic clubs, but don’t overlook the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, Rotary International and Kiwanis International. Agents between the ages of 18 and 41 will find younger volunteers they’ll have more in common with by joining their local chapter of the Jaycees.
Finally, don’t neglect asking your local church or school what kind of help they may need and, if you’re athletic, become a volunteer soccer, baseball, football or tennis coach.