Follow These 7 Tips for Holiday Networking Success

Whether or not your work has slowed down for the holiday season, we all know the party and networking opportunities are all closing in on you! The season provides some of the best chances to meet, greet, and generate leads that you’ll see all year.

To make the most of the celebrations, here are 10 Tips For Surviving Holiday Networking Events.

  1. Accept Invitations When You Can
    With a busy holiday calendar, you may be inclined to turn down a few opportunities. While you want to maintain some balance, take advantage of the gatherings as a way to make friends and follow up with your existing connections.
  2. Play Host
    Create positive associations with your colleagues by hosting your own party. Others will see you as an influencer and point of contact in their own networking and business journey. Of course, when you take on the role of host, you have an opportunity and responsibility of connecting others. For each person you invite, consider who you can invite as a party counterpart for your guest.
  3. Don’t Forget The Greeting Cards
    There are so many online services for creating your own greeting cards. These services are so easy to navigate (Shutterfly, VistaPrint, and Pear Tree are just a few) that there’s no excuse not to recognize your clients and colleagues with a quick note. Don’t miss out on your peripheral contacts. Go through your business card file and get those cards in the mail!
  4. Be Prepared
    Holiday parties seem more relaxed than other networking events, but it’s still important to bring along business cards and a schedule, if you use something other than your phone. You want to be ready to schedule follow up meetings in the new year!
  5. Know What To Talk About
    Obviously, politics is off the table! But have open-ended questions prepared to keep the conversation flowing. “Tell me about your holiday plans…” and “What are your New Years’ Resolutions?” will carry you much farther than “Are you ready for Christmas?” And always remember that putting the focus on others is a great way to earn favor in the eyes of your colleagues.
  6. Send A Thank You Note and “Share” The Love
    Always, always, always follow up with a thank you to the host or hostess to let them know you had a wonderful time. If the event isn’t a private one, post pictures to social media and tag your host and colleagues. This is a great way to help grow their network and paint you in a positive light.
  7. Don’t Overdo It
    Relax and enjoy yourself, but know what your limits are when drinking is involved. Remember that these parties are still professional events. You can still be the life of the party without sacrificing any important relationships!

 

Are You Blogging? Make a Good Blog Better With These Tips!

We are living in a magical time. In a world full of platforms to showcase your knowledge and skill, you no longer have to wait for someone to recognize your expertise – you can declare it!

You may have heard it a million times, but writing a blog is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors and establish yourself as an expert in your field. But when it comes right down to it, blogging takes time – our most valuable luxury. The idea of adding one more thing to your daily tasks is almost impossible to think about.  However, with a small time investment and a good roadmap to getting there, creating good content isn’t so impossible.

Get A Good Title

It would be nice if we could make people click on blog posts and read great content, but we have to draw them in with a strong headline. One of these 5 starters may help:

  1. Make A List: 10 Questions To Ask Your Real Estate Agent
  2. How to: How To Style Your Home On A Budget
  3. Question: What Does A New President Mean For The Housing Market?
  4. Controversy: You’ll Never Believe What’s Inside This House
  5. Numbers: This Step Will Increase Your Home’s Value By 5%

Focus On Your Intro

When you’ve got great content to share, it might be hard to think of a way to get started. You don’t want to jump too quickly into information. It will create a dry blog. Instead, use an opening sentence that builds curiosity. Ask a question of your audience, challenge an idea, or be a little silly to keep them reading. With blogs, like any form of social media, the tone should be light and conversational, not journalistic and stuffy.

Write Your Outline, Then Fill In Content

Once you know what you’re going to write about, jot down a simple outline to get your thoughts organized. This makes sure that you don’t leave out important information or get carried off on a tangent. Once your outline is solid, start filling in your ideas. Search engines grade posts on their readability, among other factors. Keep sentences short and break the content into small paragraphs. Your total word count should be around 400-600 words.

Link Where You Can

Your blog also grabs more attention from search engines when it links to sites with similar information. If you’re citing a source, add the link to the original material. The more connection your post seems to have with other relevant sites, the higher you’ll appear in search results.

Add Some Visuals

Pictures break up the content for your reader, but they also add weight to your search engine results, especially if the picture file names relate to the information in your blog. For example, if you’ve written a blog titled “5 Problems You Shouldn’t Overlook When House Hunting” and including a picture of a home, double check the file title and make sure you change it if necessary. A picture of a home titled “new-home.jpg” will get a lot more mileage than “image00159.jpg.”

Writing A Great Blog

Publish And Promote

Congratulations, your blog is looking good! But wait! How will anyone know it’s there? Make sure you share your content to social media to help drive visitors to your website. You can also send the link out in your next email blast, forward it to a client who may have asked about the information you’ve posted, or share it in a variety of other ways. The point is, if people don’t know it’s there, they may not go looking for it on their own.

Brand Your Business With 4 Easy Questions

Creating a solid business brand may seem like a simple task, but using your business’s logo, colors, website, print materials, policies, and style should be done with lots of consideration. Your branding includes anything that sends a message to the world about who you are, what you do, and what they can expect from you.

As you consider your brand, or if you’re ready to rebrand your business, answer the following questions to get a better idea of how to move forward.

Who Am I Serving?

If you’ve been in business for a while, think about the clients you’ve had in the past year. Is there a common thread when you think about age, income level, location? What is it about your business that pulls in your current clientele?

Who Do I Want To Serve?

Are your current clients your ideal clients? If not, there is a disconnect between who you want to be and the message you’re sending your customers. It’s time to decide if your business goals or your message are off-target. If you are successful with your current market, it may be a better decision to stay put!

What’s My Brand Personality?

What role do you want to play in your clients’ experience? Are you an Expert or a Friend? A Lifesaver or a Problem Solver? Regardless of what your personal style is, the language on your website and print materials should match. If you’re interested in helping first-time home buyers, stay away from formal language and too much focus on your designations. If you’re ready for a luxury market, those same elements are necessary!

Am I Sending The Right Message?

The visual elements of your brand – imagery, font, shapes, etc. – tell your story. Soft lines are nurturing and personal while sharp corners give a more corporate feel. A clean, serif font can give a luxurious feel while a bold, modern font could be great for marketing to millennials. Color plays a big part, too. Reds are aggressive and powerful, shades of blue call to mind focus and balance, green is associated with wealth and gray and black give a serious and high-end feel. Does your current visual brand telling an accurate story?

Are You On Track? Conduct Your Own Social Media Audit!

Whether you’re just using Facebook regularly or handling your business across many social media profiles, a regular audit of your social media presence is important. An audit for your social media pages is like getting a tune-up at the garage – you can learn a lot from regular review, and know when it’s time to make a change.

Audit Checklist

Here are the steps you need to take as you audit your pages.

Make a list of all of your social media profiles.

Include the following items on your list:

  • The social media network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
  • The URL
  • Your profile name and/or description
  • Number of followers, connections, fans, etc.
  • The date of your most recent post or upload activity

Once you’ve got your list together, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I using this platform regularly? If not, do I have time to start using it regularly?
  • Who am I trying to reach on this account?
  • What are my goals for this account? More followers? More interaction? Lead generation?
  • Are my competitors on this platform?

If you aren’t using or able to use the platform regularly, or if you’re using it regularly without reaching your target market, it might be time to cancel the account. Your list will give you a good idea of what is working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to cancel or deactivate an account that isn’t getting you anywhere.

Do A Consistency Check

Are the logos and descriptions the same for each page, so that your followers can easily identify you? Though each social media platform has its own tone – LinkedIn, for example, is much more formal than Instagram or Twitter – you want your branding to be consistent across all pages. This gives your audience a clear idea of who you are and what they can expect when they do business with you.

Do a URL/Username check. If you’ve got a strong presence on one platform, you want it to be easy to find you on another. Change your profile names and URLs if you’re able, so that all area consistent.

Follow Up Regularly

Now that you have an idea of what your pages look like and the attention you’re giving to them and getting back from them, check in periodically. Once a month or so, update your list and compare it to the previous one. Are you posting more? Are you engaging more? Is your following growing? Make adjustments as needed and keep checking back until you see some positive movement – then you’ll know you’re on the right track.

 

Remember, social media is a great tool if you use it well. You get what you give – so give it lots of attention, keep an eye on your progress, and you’ll see results in no time!

 

3 Ways to Ask for Testimonials – and 4 You Should Pass Up

Building your credibility in the real estate world is easy – as long as you have some strong testimonials to help. Because word of mouth is such a strong influencer in the marketing world, testimonials are as good as gold. People tend to ask their friends and neighbors for advice before beginning a search for a professional to work with.  Depending on your communication style, some of your past clients may send an email or letter full of praise without even being asked, and others need reminders or a little encouragement. It doesn’t have to be awkward – here are some tips on seeking out testimonials without the discomfort!

 

What To Do
  1. End your client experience with a survey. You can make one on your own or use a third-party service like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to facilitate your request. This puts the emphasis on the whole experience rather than solely on your skills and personality, but still achieves your goal. When users can send in a testimonials as a quick answer on a survey, it makes their job easier.
  2. Use what they’ve already said. In your time working together, chances are good for finding a line or two in your email correspondence or text messages that would be perfect to feature as a testimonial. But make sure you reach out and request your client’s permission to use their words. Text messages and emails are considered private, so you want to make sure you’re not offending past clients by using their words out of context or without their knowledge.
  3. Ask with a compliment. When reaching out for a testimonial, let the client know what led you to them. Try “I wish all my clients were as great to work with as you have been – would you consider writing a testimonial on our experience together?” or “Your opinion means the world to me. Can I send you a form to fill out for my testimonials page?” The emphasis here is on your own pleasurable experience as well as seeking out some kind client words. Also – most people love reciprocity and will respond to compliments with some of their own.

 

Of course, it’s important to respect your client’s time and schedule when you approach them with a request. At all costs, avoid:

What Not To Do
  1. Last minute requests and too many reminders. Asking for help at the last minute disregards their own needs and priorities. And it’s important to keep in mind that most people these days are busier than they care to be (especially so if they’ve recently moved and have to deal with unpacking, changing schools, etc.) Respect their time.
  2. Making them commit on the spot. Ask casually or via email to avoid discomfort in case your perception of the transaction doesn’t match your client’s. Give them time and space to consider your request.
  3. Waiting until you need a testimonial. Ask at the end of a transaction, when your client’s experience is freshest in their mind rather than waiting for the next time you freshen up your website or social media.
  4. Writing a statement for your client. If they don’t have time to write a testimonial, they simply don’t have time. Don’t put words in their mouth or add the pressure of speaking on their behalf.

 

Most importantly, don’t miss out on the benefits provided by testimonials because you’re afraid it will be awkward or uncomfortable. Use the above methods and your experience should be pain free!


SOURCES:
https://www.freshbooks.com/blog/5-non-icky-ways-to-ask-for-testimonials/ http://www.switchvideo.com/2015/03/23/5-things-not-to-do-when-asking-for-a-customer-testimonial/ https://placester.com/real-estate-marketing-academy/how-to-get-real-estate-testimonials/

The Resource: November’s Social Media Guide

We often hear our real estate friends say they’re short on time and can’t handle regular posting to social media. So, each month, we collect a full month’s worth of posts for you to pass along to clients, friends and family.

The Holiday Season

5 Decluttering Projects To Help You Get Ready for the Holidays (Houzz)
15 Simple Thanksgiving Centerpieces (Shelterness)
Bring Farmhouse Touches Into Your Home for Thanksgiving (The Spruce)
Thanksgiving Hosting Hacks (Better Homes and Gardens)

Texas Living

Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
How the World Series Finally Vindicated Astros Fans (Texas Monthly)
15 Songs That Embody the Texas Spirit (Wide Open Country)
Texas Meals You Have To See (and Taste) to Believe (Texas Hill Country)

Just For Fun

DIY: Make a Fresh Magnolia Wreath (Houzz)
The Top Travel Destinations of 2018 (Elle Decor)
Peek Inside the Homes of 23 Classic Hollywood Stars (Veranda)
Home Decor Ideas for People Who Love Their Dogs A Little Too Much (Realtor.com)

Around The House

What To Store in the Laundry Room, And What You Shouldn’t (The Spruce)
Composting How-Tos (Better Homes and Gardens)
The Ultimate Stain Removing Guide (Better Homes and Gardens)
Garden Trends for 2018 (HGTV)
Garage Organization Ideas That Will Give You Your Parking Space Back (House Beautiful)
A Tightwad’s Guide to Getting Organized (Organized Home)

Decor Inspiration

15 Cool Shared Spaces Where Kids Can Study (Shelterness)
Stunning Ways to Redecorate the Dining Room (Good Housekeeping)
Natural Fall Decorating Ideas (Real Simple)
Unexpected Patterns that are Perfect for Fall (HGTV)
Luxurious Headboards for a Dreamy Slumber (Luxe Daily)

Buying And Selling

The Problem with Tiny Houses That No One Talks About (Elle Decor)
10 Home Maintenance Myths Costing You Time and Money (HouseLogic)
Should I Bail After A Bad Home Inspection? (The Mortgage Reports)

 

Boost Your Business By Tapping Into Your Creative Side

There’s so much more to success than having a strong sense for business. When you’re running a business, either large or small, creativity is a crucial skill. By honing your creative skills, you’re allowing yourself the freedom to find inspiration more easily, adapt to new environments, and think outside the norm to find good solutions to common problems.

But listen – if the idea of getting more creative in your business scares you off, you’re not alone. Not everyone feels naturally inclined toward artistic pursuits. The good news is, you don’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to use that right side of your brain that aren’t as scary as you think.

Start With A “Brain Dump”

A brain dump is a great way to get started, especially if you don’t describe yourself as a creative person. Think of a problem you need to solve in your business. Grab some paper and pens (or your laptop) and just write out every single thing that comes to your mind in association with the problem at hand. Write, draw, or type your flow of thought for as long as you can handle it. A good brain dump will get out all your ideas – good and bad – and help clear your mind for finding a solution. Along the way, you might find some inspiration for other areas of your business and life.

Take A Walk And Pay Attention

Creative thinking doesn’t have to involve paintbrushes and crayons. Take a 20 minute walk around your office or home and pay attention to spaces, patterns, and textures. Consider why certain things capture your eye. Do you tend to appreciate symmetry or things that or off balance? Do you like vibrant colors or muted tones? If there’s something on your walk that you find visually off-putting, what would you change?  Another great benefit of a walk is that it gives your mind a chance to wander. On idle, your brain may be able to find solutions or ideas that phones and computers and other distractions can prevent.

Take A Class

If you’re feeling a little gutsier about creativity, consider signing up for a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Cooking, painting, dancing – there are so many opportunities to try something new. Think of it as exercising a new muscle and see where your new activity can take your mind.

Just Go For It

Creativity isn’t about being perfect. It’s about trying something new, opening up your mind in a different way, and personal growth. If you’re looking for some more creative inspiration, take a look at this great list.

 

More Reading:

Creativity in Business: 4 Tips to Tap Into Inspiration and Innovation