6 Things Every New Agent Must Do

 
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This is a quick post with my thoughts on how to establish yourself as a new agent. The term "brand" is thrown around so much now, that it's become a buzzword and something that can be tempting to ignore. But you really do need to be able to communicate who you are and what sets you apart from other agents from the beginning. It's important. So, here are a few of my tips. Hope they help you! Know your strengths. This is a slightly simpler version of knowing your value proposition. I had no idea how to do this when I was starting out. Keller Williams' IGNITE Program does this in the first class session, so if you join us you'll go through our process for answering the questions that will clarify this for you. It's a pretty basic series of questions, really. What are you known for? What are your strengths? How would someone describe you in 3 words? Ask a former employer, co-worker and an employee (if you ever supervised people) how they would describe you in just a few words. This can be a great starting point.

Develop your network. When I started I didn’t know anyone in this area. My family were all up in Canada and my only circle of acquaintances were a handful of co-workers from the airline I'd worked for and the people at my church.  So, I asked myself how I could expand my circle to hundreds of people. I started small with my own neighborhood and held a food drive there to meet my neighbors. Then I thought about all of the places I did business as a customer--my hair dresser, my local coffee shop, mechanic, etc.--and I networked with the people who owned those establishments or worked there. My advice is talk to everyone you know and if you don't know that many people, find ways to meet some. I also offered to work other agents' open houses. I did tons of those as a way to meet people who were looking to buy a home.

Get a coach. I've had a coach since I started at Keller Williams and meet with one weekly. A good coach will help you remember the basics and focus on your goals, which is especially important when you're starting out and everything feels new and overwhelming. Have them coach you on building a brand, on networking and communication skills. These things are important components of reaching your financial goals.

Develop an Authentic and Positive Online Presence. In many ways, being a real estate agent (or any business where you're front and center) is like running for political office. You must be clear and consistent in your messaging and you must be careful with your online image. You are building your tribe of prospective clients with the things you post on your blog, website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Don’t post anything you wrote after a stressful or frustrating day. Don't vent publicly about a bad experience with a client or colleague. Everything you write/tweet/post can influence a prospective client, so be thoughtful about the impression your online communications make. I teach a class for new agents and I tell them that I'm happy to read anything they're thinking about posting and give them my thoughts.

Know Your Story. This is in the same family as knowing your value proposition and is also covered in the IGNITE class I mentioned earlier. But I think of this as the more personal version of your elevator pitch. Know why you're an agent; what it means to you personally to do this work; and the kind of experience you want your clients to have. Know it and be able to articulate it in 30 seconds or less.

Lead with revenue. Inspect what you’re expecting out of the things you pay for. Meaning, I'm not going to invest in advertising or marketing without knowing how it will translate to more money in my pocket. In the first year especially, you need money in the bank and there are loads of free and nearly free ways to network and market. My first year I spent almost nothing and today I don't spend any more than $50 on any one marketing activity. My first year as an agent I paid $20 to join a breakfast networking group. That was really useful, actually. I'm still in touch with some of the professionals I met there and we refer clients to one another. When you do start investing in marketing, think about partnering with someone else (loan officer, insurance agent) and split the cost, if it's more than a $50 investment.

As always, feel free to leave your questions or comments in the Comments section below!

How To Know Where You Belong

 
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I’ve been with Keller Williams for my entire real estate career and I cannot imagine working anywhere else! For a number of reasons—the interdependent business model, the continuing education/support/coaching opportunities, and technology resources (the list goes on!)—I truly believe it is the best brokerage, bar none. That’s why I started this website and why I serve in leadership roles for the company. But…

There are other solid brokerages out there that might be a better fit depending upon your personality, goals, working style or preferred business model.

No matter where you ultimately decide to put your talents to work, make sure you’ve asked the questions (and received the answers) you need to make an informed decision. To help you a bit with that, I’ll share the 5 questions I’d encourage you to ask real estate brokerages before you decide which one is right for you.

 
Question Marks
Question Marks
 

What business model does their company employ? Is it an independent model in which you are completely on your own as an agent—essentially owning your own business with all the risks and rewards that can entail?

Is it a dependent model, in which you are an employee subject to their rules, regulations and job descriptions?

Or is it an interdependent model (Keller Williams fits into this model)? As you may have guessed, an interdependent model combines many of the best parts about independent and dependent modes. In this model you get all of the perks that come with a big name brokerage: name/brand recognition, access to technology, educational, coaching, staff and other resources. At the same time, you get to build your own business under the brokerage’s umbrella. You get to set your own goals and build a business that is the size and scope you want.

What are their commission splits and office fees? Do you ever sell enough that you get to keep 100% of your commission? This is a very big deal. You need to know how much of what you bring in is going to go back to the brokerage and for what. And whatever that percentage is, you must decide whether you think it’s a fair tradeoff for the support and resources you’re getting from that company and how it compares to the other brokerages for whom you could work.

At Keller Williams you do get to keep 100% of your commission, once you’ve reached your annual responsibility to the company. As of this writing, once I’ve paid $19,000 to Keller Williams I get to keep 100% of any other commissions I make.

What kind of training is provided and, if so, what does that training cost? You’ll want to know what kinds of educational opportunities exist for you at whatever brokerage you select. And I mean formal, established programs. If you want to move into a leadership role, is there a curriculum you can follow to learn what you need to know to do that? If you want to start investing in properties and being a landlord as part of your business plan, does that brokerage have a program to help you be successful in that venture? Is there a mentoring or coaching program established at that brokerage, in which you could be matched with a more experienced agent who has a career similar to the one you want to pursue for yourself?

Ask to see a list of the educational and coaching programs that brokerage offers and make sure that the things that are of interest to you are available.

What kind of technical support is provided and what does that cost? By tech support, I don’t mean someone who can fix your computer if it breaks, although that is worth knowing too! When I talk about technology in this context, I mean does the brokerage provide you with the following:

  • A Website
  • Contact Management Database
  • A Personal Mobile App
  • Listing Syndication (and how many sites?)
  • Technology Training
  • Marketing Materials

What kind of support/support staff is provided? Does the brokerage have administrative support to offer you? How about transaction coordinators to handle the paperwork and manage the due dates associated with the purchase or sale of a home? If so, how many hours per week will you have access to that support and for how much money? Will they provide you with a computer, a printer, copier or other practical support you need to do your job?

 
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My Plan.jpeg
 

These questions are by no means a comprehensive list of things to ask, but I think they are the five most important ones and a good place to start in drafting your list of questions.

I do office tours regularly for prospective agents (some already licensed and some who are not). If you haven’t taken one already, but would like to come in, ask me some questions and learn more about Keller Williams and careers in real estate, click on the Get Started page and send me a message.

What It's Like Being a New Agent

 
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I've now been a Realtor and a member of Rebecca's team for just about three months. If you've been reading my studying posts, I guess this is the point where I confess that they aren't being written in real time :-)  Anyway, it seemed like a good time to reflect on what it's like to be new...before I forget! So, if you're an aspiring or newly licensed agent, I hope this post will give you some insight into what to expect during your first weeks. Expect paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. I think mine took about 30-45 minutes to complete. Not quite as extensive as the paperwork when you buy or sell a house, but the time commitment was almost the same :-)

Expect to be inundated with information. There is simply no way the human brain can take in, process and retain all of the information people will fire at you. No way. Between new agent orientation, emails from your local MLS, your national and regional professional associations, your brokerage and others I'm forgetting at the moment, you will be swimming in due dates, logins, account balances, advice, instructions and names of people to connect with. I'm not sure I have any foolproof strategies for tracking it all, other than take lots of notes, keep a list (I used Excel) and add tasks with any associated due dates and costs to it as you go. Then you can cross off items as you complete them. I also set aside about an hour each week to go back through the notes and paperwork I compiled in the previous 7 days to file things away and to make sure nothing fell through the cracks.

Expect to develop a business plan right away. You need to be clear about why you're working, what your goals are and how you're going to reach them. Otherwise, it's too easy to get overwhelmed. And because for many of us this is the first time we've ever worked for ourselves--ever been in a job where a boss wasn't paying attention to when we clocked in and out or whether we finished our work for the day--it's oh so easy to procrastinate, especially when there's so much to do. Ignite is Keller Williams' signature course for new agents, and you'll come out of it with goals and a plan (literally daily, weekly and monthly activity and outcome goals) for achieving your target income. Ignite is open to all agents, not just KW agents. Contact Rebecca here for more info if you'd like to attend. For me, having that roadmap to follow has been invaluable. Can't say enough good things about it.

Expect to set boundaries. This is tricky for many of us (myself included). This is a career that can and will consume as much of your life as you will allow. And because you're excited about it, and because you're working with people who are excited for you, it is easy to take on too much.  Ignite is actually really helpful in this regard. (Wow, this is the 2nd Ignite plug of this post...they're not paying me to promote it guys, I swear.) But suffice it to say that KW gives you a blue-print for success and it is possible to do it without sacrificing all of your free time and neglecting yourself or your family, or losing all your friends and your sunny disposition.

Expect to feel excited, anxious and overwhelmed all at once. Being new at anything can be all of those things. Some days I felt way more anxious than excited and vice versa. Totally normal.

Expect to have fun. Everything I wrote above was true for me, but it's also true that this is so much fun! I really don't want that point to get lost in all of this. This is a fun job. Keller Williams is a fun company to work for. Rebecca's team is amazing and talented and are the first people to raise their hands to help me when I need it. It's been an amazing experience and I'm trying to enjoy each season of it before the next begins.

Are any of you new agents? What has your experience been like? Any advice for managing the logistics and the emotions involved with being a newbie? Please share below!

 

Considerations for Part-Time Agents

 
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For a while now, I've wanted to write a post about the topic of being a part-time real estate agent. But it's a bit tricky to strike the right tone, so it's taken me a while to organize my thoughts and get them in writing. On that note, a quick disclaimer before we get started. It is possible to be a great real estate agent even if you aren't devoting 100% of your work life to it. (I started out part-time myself.) So, by no means do I want anyone to interpret this post as a criticism of part-time agents. In fact, part of this post is about how to effectively serve your clients and make a living when real estate isn't getting 100% of your professional attention.

But it is also important for new agents to know some of the disadvantages to pursuing real estate as a side business or a part-time venture, and to have a plan for addressing those potential challenges. So that's what this post is about.

Let's start with what I mean when I say "part-time." Unlike other jobs where part-time is defined by the number of hours you work per week, in real estate I think of part-time in terms of the professional attention and energy you're devoting to it.  If real estate isn't your sole professional obligation--if it's not the sole way you generate your income--then I consider you part-time for the purposes of this discussion.

 
Time for Change
Time for Change
 

There are many moving pieces when it comes to the laws, rules and forms that govern what we do, and they are often changing. This is one of the challenges to being part-time. We have monthly trainings for agents at our office about all of that, because it's so important. Attending trainings and getting lots of repetitions completing transactions, and their accompanying paperwork, is crucial to serving clients well and feeling confident as an agent. If you're working another full-time or part-time job, it can be difficult (and sometimes impossible) to attend those trainings, get that daily practice and stay on top of industry news and laws. And the financial/business consequences for missing something or making a mistake because there was a bit of information you didn't know, can be serious.

The more transactions you close, the better you get at negotiations. This is a really critical point. The skill of negotiating and communicating on behalf of your clients is one you get better at the more you do it. It's like a muscle that gets stronger with practice. I pay attention to things that the agents I'm negotiating with do and say. The things that are really smart and effective, I remember and use myself the next time I'm in a similar situation. The things they do that are ineffective, I make note never to do. You can learn so much by observing agents on the other side of the table from you. Learn from their successes and mistakes.

 
Ask
Ask
 

You might be wondering what to do if being a part-time agent is the best fit for your life right now. As I said, I started out as a part-time agent, and I want to leave you with some advice if that's the road you need to, or want to, take yourself. There are two ways to structure a part-time real estate career that I think are really solid approaches.

Join or build a team. On a team you'd have someone to serve as your transaction coordinator. This person would manage the extensive paperwork process involved in the buying or selling of a property and provide you with accounting and administrative support. Someone else might host showings for your clients, or conduct the initial meeting with new listing clients for you. At Keller Williams you can do this by paying these support positions on an as-needed basis. Transaction coordinators are paid per transaction completed and other admin support is paid on an hourly basis. So, if you're devoting 50% of your energy to real estate, in this scenario you're hiring out the other 50%.

Build a career on referrals. I think I mentioned this in the post about ways to structure a real estate career, but this also applies if you want real estate to be a part-time or side venture. Get your license but don't fully activate it. At Keller Williams, if you refer a client to another agent within the company you will receive a percentage of the commission on whatever transaction comes as a result of that referral. You don't actually show any homes, represent any buyers or negotiate any transactions in this career model. This works really well for some people.

These are probably not the only ways to structure a successful part-time real estate business, but they are my favorites. If you're a part-time agent who's had success using another model, feel free to post about your experience in the Comments section. And as always, please ask any questions you wish via Comments or by contacting me here.

Safety 101

 
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This is definitely not a fun topic to think, write or talk about. But it is an important one to address. Because the truth is that every job comes with its share of risk—just going about our daily lives comes with a certain share of it—but there are things we can do to mitigate the specific risks you might face as a real estate agent. So, I’m going to share a few of my best tips for staying safe at work. Have your team’s loan officer (or someone else you trust) reach out to buyers prior to your first meeting. In this conversation, my loan officer asks for their address, employer and contact information so we can verify they are legit. I require this before I ever show a home to a stranger. 

Make sure someone in your office knows where you are. Also tell them with whom you are meeting and when to expect you back or when to expect hear from you, anytime you go out for open houses or private showings.

Meet new clients for the first time at your office. When meeting with a client who has hired me to help them purchase a home, our first meeting is always at my office. Always. The whole time I am gauging whether they are someone I feel comfortable serving. If not, I sometimes refer them to another agent in my office who I think might be a better match. That’s mostly based on feeling like our personalities, or their expectations and my approach aren’t a good fit. If I felt like there was something off or unsafe about them, I would not send them to one of my colleagues without full disclosure of my concerns.

Verify the information you can verify. When dealing with a new listing/seller client, I always check that the address they’ve given me is a legitimate address and that their name matches who the county has on file as the owner of record for that property. If it doesn’t, I use a prequalifying script to call them and ask a few more questions BEFORE I go out and meet them at their home.

When conducting an open house or a private showing, arrive early and familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Learn where the exits are and the quickest way to reach them from each area of the house. Avoid entering spaces where you can become easily trapped—closets, laundry rooms, basements, attics, small bathrooms, etc. Stand outside in the hallway and let the client walk in on their own and check out the space.

Always have your cell phone with you. There are also personal security apps you can buy for your phone that would help law enforcement locate you in an emergency.

Trust your gut. If you’re uncomfortable don’t second guess yourself. Remove yourself from the situation. Your safety is more important than possibly hurting a client’s feelings.

A few other things you can consider:

  • Bring a buddy with you. Maybe you make it a rule that you always have your assistant, partner or a colleague with you when you show homes to a client for the first time or host open houses.
  • Be careful about the information you share on social media or your website. Posing for pictures in front of your house, your car, or wearing expensive jewelry is probably not a good idea.
  • Take a self-defense class. You may never need to use what you learn, but just having those skills in your pocket can bring you some peace of mind. This is a good tip for everyone, not just real estate agents.

I hope these tips are helpful to you! I don’t want you to be fearful—I feel really safe as I go about my day because I follow some pretty basic safety rules. But it’s important to look at the ways where there might be some vulnerabilities safety-wise and come up with a plan to address those.

As always, feel free to send me questions by email or leave your thoughts in the Comments section below. Thanks!

Tips for Success at Self-Employment

 
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One of the questions I get a lot when I do office tours or informational interviews is: what makes someone likely to succeed as a real estate agent? It’s a great question and an understandable one. Who wants to invest time and energy and money in becoming an agent if they’re likely to hate it and/or fail?

But it’s also almost an impossible question for me to answer, because there are exceptions to every rule. I see a lot of teachers, baristas and bartenders who rock the real estate game. In the case of teachers, I think it’s the patience that’s required of both jobs that’s the predictor of success. But, I worked in customer service for an airline before starting a real estate career. And you could name any other profession and I’ll bet there are agents who used to do that job before switching to real estate.

So, really there’s no simple answer to that question. At Keller Williams we do have a personality assessment that people can take, which points them in the direction of careers within the company that are probably a good fit for their personalities. That’s really the closest we come to “predicting” here.

But…

There are some tips I’d share with anyone considering becoming a real estate agent at a brokerage where they’ll have lots of autonomy. They probably apply to anyone considering self-employment of any kind though, so please read on even if a real estate career isn’t in your future.

 
Startup Stock Photos
Startup Stock Photos
 

Stay humble. I have seen people make the mistake of believing that there is nothing they can learn from anyone else. This is totally untrue. I’ve been doing this since 2003 and I still look for opportunities to learn and I accept coaching from people who know more than I do.

 
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home office
 

Behave as if you’re at work even if your office is in your home. Get dressed. Maintain a regular schedule. Avoid sending work emails while you’re in the middle of doing yoga in your living room. Sometimes you do have to answer an email at 11:59PM on a Thursday night, but to the extent you can, establish your working hours and stick to them. Plan days off and stick to those too.

 
Wake Me When I'm Famous
Wake Me When I'm Famous
 

Enjoy the freedom and flexibility, but not at the expense of the work. This is another common mistake I see agents make. If you don’t wake up every day with the realization that but for your own efforts, you are unemployed, you won’t succeed. The freedom that comes from being able to set your own goals and design your own job is incredibly rewarding. But the people who are successful balance that with accountability. They set clear tasks and goals for every day and are disciplined enough to meet them even though no one else is watching. You can probably train yourself to do this if it doesn’t come naturally, but I find that a certain level of self-motivation and discipline is necessary.

 
Jumping Woman
Jumping Woman
 

Be yourself. This is such a cliché, but in any business where you are a big part of the equation when a client is deciding whether to work with you, it is so important. You should know who you are as a real estate agent—what is your philosophy about your work? Why would someone choose to work with you over the agent down the street? What sets you apart?

You must know these things and be able to communicate them to prospective clients in a genuine way.

 
Win
Win
 

Have clearly defined goals and a definition of success. If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you’ve arrived. Go through a formal goal-setting process regularly. How often really depends on your business. It can be something you do yearly, quarterly or monthly. But decide where you want your business to be at the end of that period. In my case, I set goals for how many transactions I want to close annually in my real estate business. And then I have separate goals for the other roles I have at Keller Williams. Figure out your metrics for determining when you’ve met your goals and then reward yourself for doing so.

 
Planner Picture
Planner Picture
 

Be a good boss to yourself. Pay yourself a salary, even if it’s a small one when your business is just getting started. Have a plan for how you determine when it’s appropriate to give yourself a raise. Invest in retirement; have a plan for taking a vacation or for when you’re too sick to work; work the supplies you need into your monthly budget. In short, treat yourself the way you’d expect a good boss to treat you if you were their employee. Otherwise you’ll resent yourself and burnout.

All you other self-employed people out there, please feel free to share any of the tips that work for you in the Comments section below.

Thanks, all! I’ll see you back here again soon.

Career Possibilities

 
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One of the things I love to share with aspiring agents when they come in for office tours (contact me here if you're interested in signing-up for one!), is the variety of ways you can structure a career in real estate. People often think of being a real estate agent as only representing clients in the purchase or sale of a property. That's how I started my career, and may be how you start yours too. But it doesn't have to be the only way you put your skills to work.

I'm a big fan of variety and of diversifying sources of income, including building in some passive income where I can. I thought I'd share with you today some of the ways you can do that as a real estate agent. Keep in mind that my experience has been with Keller Williams exclusively, so the opportunities I discuss below are the ones available with this brokerage. I don't know for sure what other brokerages offer. Okay, caveat out of the way, so here we go.

Option 1: Representing Buyers and Sellers. This is pretty straightforward. As a real estate agent, clients will hire you to represent them in the purchase or sale of a property.

Option 2: "Flipping" Properties. This is where you buy a property, invest in renovating it, and then sell it for a profit (hopefully!). There are several shows on HGTV profiling people who do this. As a licensed real estate agent you can represent yourself as buyer and seller and you'll have access to new properties as they come on the market. Keller Williams has a book to help agents learn how to do this successfully. It's called, appropriately enough, "Flip."

Option 3: Investment Properties. This is where you purchase a property and then rent it out to a third party. Again, Keller Williams has educational materials to help agents do this successfully, maximize their earning potential, and avoid some of the mistakes people commonly make when starting out as landlords. It's called, "Hold."

Option 4: Referrals. I know agents whose entire business is built on Keller Williams' Referral Program. Keller Williams has agents licensed to sell homes anywhere in the world. If someone approaches you wanting to purchase or sell a home outside of the area in which you work, you can refer them to a Keller Williams agent in that region. If that client hires that Keller Williams agent and they purchase or sell a property, you could receive 25% of the commission on that sale. Just for referring that client. Pretty great, right? I've done it several times and it's a win-win-win experience. I know I'm referring someone to an agent who is going to provide them with excellent service; a great KW agent gets to serve someone that may not have otherwise found them; and I get a nice financial thank-you.

Option 5: Profit Sharing. Okay, this one is a unique option within the world of real estate. When you close a transaction, you pay a percentage of your commission to Keller Williams, until you've paid the company dollar CAP in commission in a calendar year. After that commitment is met, then you keep 100% of the commissions you make. Here's where the profit-sharing comes in. The person who "referred" you to Keller Williams gets a thank you for sending you to KW. So, if you go into business with Keller Williams and then you recommend it to a friend or acquaintance and they join as an agent too anywhere in the world), you could get a portion of the commission. You're fully vested after 3 years and the benefit can outlive you and be passed along to your heirs.

Option 6: Salaried Positions. For whatever reason, maybe you want a more predictable 9-5, salaried job. Keller Williams hires licensed real estate agents to provide administrative and transaction support to our Realtors. So, you could use your knowledge and skills in this way as opposed to representing buyers and sellers.  Or maybe you're a great leader and want to take on additional responsibilities on top of your work as an agent. KW has formal curriculum for people who want to pursue a leadership role, and there is additional income associated with those opportunities.

Was any of this news to you? Did one or more of these options make you think about a real estate career in a different way? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below or contact me here if you want to talk more about real estate or Keller Williams.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you here again soon!

 

 

Where Do You Want to Be?

 
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This post is all about deciding what you want and making a plan for success. In other words, setting goals. I've been doing this for 14+ years now, and wanted to share a bit about what I do and how it helps me be successful.

#1: Formal Training Through My Brokerage. At Keller Williams we work big and then drill down to monthly, weekly and daily goals. I started with a course called Quantum Leap as a new agent and have taken it multiple times over the years. Gary Keller created this training course to help people set their five-year goals. His premise is that whatever big dream you have in your heart, you’re five years away from achieving it. It takes that amount of time to condition yourself, learn and hone new skills and make a plan--essentially build the foundation required to turn that dream into a reality.

The second formal goal-setting training I do is the Business Planning Clinic, in which I break down my five-year goal(s) down to three year goals and then from three year goals to one year. Once I've got my goals broken down to an annual schedule, I use KW's CGI calculator, a mathematical calculation that breaks that one-year financial goal down to monthly, weekly, and daily activity goals. I literally come out of it with to-do lists for each day. (The mathematical calculation is based on your target income goal for the year.)

 
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meeting
 

#2: Accountability Activities. Setting my goals is one thing, but I also need a formal accountability program to help me achieve them. If I never check in on my goals, I could get to the end of the year and be light years away from where I want to be financially. So...

Once per week my team reviews our goals vs. our actual numbers--i.e. where we planned on being and where we actually are. Ideally those two things match!

I also meet with my KW coach weekly to review those numbers and set my goals for the following week. You'll note that I still work with a coach fourteen years into my career. Anyone can benefit from a coaching relationship, from new agents to seasoned ones. Coaches remind you of your potential and hold you accountable when you aren't reaching it. Conversely, they often serve as a much-needed voice of encouragement, reminding you of your successes. Having to be accountable to another person for meeting or not meeting my weekly goals is powerful motivation.

On a monthly basis I participate in something called The 15th Protocol. All of the agents from our office meet on the 15th of the month to check-in to see whether they’re on track for meeting their goals for the month. The idea behind this is that if you aren't in good shape by the middle of the month and don't make any adjustments, you won't meet your goal by the end of the month.

And finally, I meet with the other agents in the top 20% (of transactions closed) in my office and we talk about our goals and any challenges we're facing. People allow themselves to be vulnerable in these conversations, because when you are honest and open about where things are difficult or not going well, other people can offer practical and emotional support. This is one of the things that makes Keller Williams different. In a profession that many people assume is hyper-competitive, we have a team-oriented mentality.  The profit sharing model helps in this regard because we all sink or swim as a group. So people are generous with their knowledge and advice.

 
Donations
Donations
 

#3: I'm Clear About Why I'm Doing What I'm Doing. The goals I've been talking about are financial goals--I decide how much salary I want to generate each year and I work toward that goal. But the motivation behind my goals changes from year-to-year. Beyond what I need to earn in order to support myself, I am often motivated by a mission or charity I want to support. For example, I can't go on a mission trip with my church (I've got family and work obligations that keep me here), but I can devote some of my salary to sponsoring people who can go and do that mission work. So, I might set a goal of giving $10,000 to sponsor three people on a mission trip and then I'm working toward my financial goals with that motivation behind it. It's important to me to connect what I'm doing at work to whatever cause has spoken to me that year. I'm finding my "why," if you will.

What charities or experiences would be meaningful to you? Ask yourself how you could best support them or make them a reality through your work. Then you're starting to get closer to your "why."

 
Motivation
Motivation
 

#4: Some of My Goals Are Not Financial. Sometimes my goals are relational. I might set goals related to how many new people I want to meet each week. Or sometimes it might be about serving a certain number of families. Other times my goals are related to the number of aspiring agents I can reach and coach. And sometimes I set goals for continuing education--trainings I want to attend or a specialized skill I want to learn that will help my business long-term.

 
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#5: I Follow the SMART Guidelines for Goal-Setting. In terms of the content of my goals, whether financial or action-oriented, I follow make sure they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound.

Okay, that's it from me for now on my goal-setting process. If you have comments or questions, please share them in the Comments section below. I'm always happy to continue the conversation there, or one-on-one. You can contact me here if you want to talk more about this topic or about getting started with a career in real estate.

Value Proposition Video

 
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Hi there! Another quick video post for you today. As you think about starting and growing your career in real estate, it’s important to think about what sets you apart from other agents and why clients should/do choose to work with you. This is a topic I’ve thought a lot about, and this video reflects my thoughts on it.  Click here to watch! I thought it might be helpful for you to see what I identified as my value proposition and how I communicate that to prospective clients. As always, feel free to get in touch with questions, or share your thoughts in the Comments section below. Thanks!

New Agent Tips

 
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This is a quick post with my thoughts on how to establish yourself as a new agent. The term "brand" is thrown around so much now, that it's become a buzzword and something that can be tempting to ignore. But you really do need to be able to communicate who you are and what sets you apart from other agents from the beginning. It's important. So, here are a few of my tips. Hope they help you! Know your strengths. This is a slightly simpler version of knowing your value proposition. I had no idea how to do this when I was starting out. Keller Williams' IGNITE Program does this in the first class session, so if you join us you'll go through our process for answering the questions that will clarify this for you. It's a pretty basic series of questions, really. What are you known for? What are your strengths? How would someone describe you in 3 words? Ask a former employer, co-worker and an employee (if you ever supervised people) how they would describe you in just a few words. This can be a great starting point.

Develop your network. When I started I didn’t know anyone in this area. My family were all up in Canada and my only circle of acquaintances were a handful of co-workers from the airline I'd worked for and the people at my church.  So, I asked myself how I could expand my circle to hundreds of people. I started small with my own neighborhood and held a food drive there to meet my neighbors. Then I thought about all of the places I did business as a customer--my hair dresser, my local coffee shop, mechanic, etc.--and I networked with the people who owned those establishments or worked there. My advice is talk to everyone you know and if you don't know that many people, find ways to meet some. I also offered to work other agents' open houses. I did tons of those as a way to meet people who were looking to buy a home.

Get a coach. I've had a coach since I started at Keller Williams and meet with one weekly. A good coach will help you remember the basics and focus on your goals, which is especially important when you're starting out and everything feels new and overwhelming. Have them coach you on building a brand, on networking and communication skills. These things are important components of reaching your financial goals.

Develop an Authentic and Positive Online Presence. In many ways, being a real estate agent (or any business where you're front and center) is like running for political office. You must be clear and consistent in your messaging and you must be careful with your online image. You are building your tribe of prospective clients with the things you post on your blog, website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Don’t post anything you wrote after a stressful or frustrating day. Don't vent publicly about a bad experience with a client or colleague. Everything you write/tweet/post can influence a prospective client, so be thoughtful about the impression your online communications make. I teach a class for new agents and I tell them that I'm happy to read anything they're thinking about posting and give them my thoughts.

Know Your Story. This is in the same family as knowing your value proposition and is also covered in the IGNITE class I mentioned earlier. But I think of this as the more personal version of your elevator pitch. Know why you're an agent; what it means to you personally to do this work; and the kind of experience you want your clients to have. Know it and be able to articulate it in 30 seconds or less.

Lead with revenue. Inspect what you’re expecting out of the things you pay for. Meaning, I'm not going to invest in advertising or marketing without knowing how it will translate to more money in my pocket. In the first year especially, you need money in the bank and there are loads of free and nearly free ways to network and market. My first year I spent almost nothing and today I don't spend any more than $50 on any one marketing activity. My first year as an agent I paid $20 to join a breakfast networking group. That was really useful, actually. I'm still in touch with some of the professionals I met there and we refer clients to one another. When you do start investing in marketing, think about partnering with someone else (loan officer, insurance agent) and split the cost, if it's more than a $50 investment.

As always, feel free to leave your questions or comments in the Comments section below!