I HAVE a friend in graphic design, Tony, who freed himself from slavery with one shift in his thinking: he changed the way he sees himself, from ‘freelancer’ to ‘creative consultant’. No longer did Tony wait for and receive specific work, he was now an entrepreneur of creative possibilities.
This doesn’t mean work just suddenly came to him. Instead, he sought work in new ways. He changed his business name. He overhauled the image of his website. He engaged in discussions and debates he’d previously viewed as outside the ambit of his job. He found new ways to market himself as he gained credibility. His income trebled.
In this ‘you inc.’, ‘be your own brand’ world, we are encouraged more than ever to see ourselves as a marketable package of skills and attributes.
Such an approach does provide a good way for us to escape our limited views of ourselves.
As a real estate professional, seeing yourself this way is not merely an option – it’s a requirement. The skills and attributes you develop to become a good real estate practitioner make you marketable anywhere.
In Real Estate for Real Reasons, I mention and elaborate on a few essential actions to perform in order to begin to project the right ‘brand’ for you. Here they are in summary:
Work fast and hard on your reputation – Clients want and need to know you have a track record of high-quality service and integrity. Go and work for someone with experience, or work alongside them in a peer relationship to get experience under a senior agent. And once you’re there, plan, learn and love it!
I also talk about the importance of “taking stock” of yourself, beginning with the articulation of your personal mission. Every action, every attitude, should be in alignment with that mission.
This means sharing honest and helpful feedback about your performance. A mentor can ask you questions, make observations and give you advice.
You should encourage regular professional development sessions with your manager, as you need ongoing feedback just as much as a principal needs you to reach weekly, monthly and yearly objectives.
It’s important to self-reflect. Take notes about your performance. Don’t go into denial about any areas you are having difficulty with. If you intend to succeed, you need to address them.
If you are a ‘big picture’ person, you’d better learn to love details. The big picture is a jigsaw puzzle – you have no big picture without the small pieces. Love the fact that those little details you are capturing and recording will make you an excellent real estate agent.
Once you have your identity in focus, marketing yourself will be second nature.
So, what does all this have to do with brand? You need to be in the habit of working well, as this will give you, and your ‘brand’, the potency you need to succeed.
‘Brand’ works by association. When people see you beaming out from a “For Sale” board, the ever-expanding number of people who know you will only have pleasant associations. You will inspire confidence. You will bring back good memories. You have a certain reputation in your local area. It’s about being aware of and in control of the signals you will invariably send out.
Just like Tony, once you become a sought-after source of knowledge, you can seek out industry publications, or do some public speaking at industry conferences.
Your brand is symbolic capital. It is social credit. Build it. Be protective of it. Use it wisely.
Andrew Drane is a published author and principal at Harcourts Hills Living. Mr Drane also placed 41st on Real Estate Business’ Top 100 Agents list.