Spread The Word

Now you are finally licensed, trained, organized, well dressed, and motivated. You have established realistic goals, have become a Realtor, and have a well-running car purring in the parking lot ready to take off. You lack only one thing: people willing to do business with you. The cupboard may not be quite as bare as you think. Here are some suggestions:

■ Personally let people know you are in the business. Being a professional in real estate does not mean that you sit and wait for people to beat a path to your door. That may happen after you are established, but you won't be able to depend on it immediately. They say the fellow who built the better mousetrap and waited for people to beat a path to his door is surviving on stale cheese in an isolated hovel somewhere in Vermont. Start by making a list of friends and associates. Prepare a brief letter in which you inform them that you are in the business, indicate where you are located, and invite them to call upon you if you can be of service. A form letter may be the only practical alternative, but computer-generated products can make form letters look very personalized, and always include a brief personal note. Enclose your business card. If you have your picture on the card, make certain the photograph is professionally done and it is recognizable as you. A former student of mine let me know she was in the business with a very well prepared e-mail news letter complete with her picture and biographical information. I get a new one each month, which now contains her new listings.

■ Announce your entry into the field in the local newspaper. This will probably mean taking out a paid advertisement. Even physicians and attorneys use this procedure, so don't feel shy. The most appropriate method is for the broker to announce your affiliation with the company. Some newspapers have "New Faces in Business," or some such related column. If so, make sure you take advantage of any free coverage.

■ Have your listing in the telephone white pages changed. It will cost some money, but use whatever options the phone company has available to make your name stand out and to identify you as a real estate agent. In some areas, your name can be printed in slightly bolder type than that used for regular listings.

■ Give your individual listing on your broker's Web site a great deal of thought. I'll have more to say on this in the chapter on technology. At this point, sim ply let me encourage you to appreciate the fact that people will be judging you by what they see and read here.

■ Let your old classmates know. If you're a college graduate, send a note to your college alumni magazine. Some of your former classmates may know someone moving to your area. Some old friends may even turn out to be prosperous and influential and be in a position to refer substantial business to you. In any event, it is good to make it a matter of public record that you are in real estate and plan to be in it for a while.

THE NEWBIE BLUES

In a military combat assignment overseas, people who have been at the station a while are respectfully called the "old heads," while the new arrivals are much less respectfully known as the "newbies." A newbie is not hard to spot: His combat fatigues will not have been washed yet and will be several shades darker than everyone else's. The newly issued boots will not have been broken in, causing him to walk with a gait called the "newbie shuffle."

As a new real estate agent, you may feel that you are being treated like a newbie and that you are not getting the respect you deserve. You may believe that people, particularly those in managerial positions, should pay more attention to you. A new agent in our office, frustrated at not being able to get in to see the sales manager as quickly as he thought he should, commented, "Man, you have to stand in line around here just to get ignored."

Here are my suggestions for curing the real estate newbie blues. First, make certain that you really need advice and guidance when you ask for it. There are some new agents (and a few old ones who should know better) who have to run to the boss at every turn, ostensibly for help in making the crucial decision that will permit further progress on that megabuck transaction. In reality, what is often being said is, "Look at how good I'm doing, chief. Aren't I just about the best little old rookie real estate agent you ever did see?" Develop the reputation as someone who needs constant head-patting and stroking, and it will be hard to find anyone to talk to when you really have something important to discuss.

Second, close a few deals. I assure you that nothing will get you respect and admiration more quickly than starting to pay part of your broker's overhead. After you have brought in a few commission checks, try this little experiment to see how far your respect quotient has risen. Gather together a stack of papers that looks like an offer to purchase. Stroll casually by your broker's office. Hesitate. Make sure he sees the papers. Study them. Look puzzled. Chances are he will strike like a catfish after a worm and rush to your side to offer guidance.

Eventually, you will even start to notice that he is beginning to visit you at your desk more often with questions like: "Hey, how's it going this morning? Got anything I can help you with?" At that point, people will accurately say of you, "When Sarah Smith speaks, people listen." Your boots will be broken in, your fatigues faded, and you will have achieved the revered old head status.

Making Money by Investing in Real Estate

Making Money by Investing in Real Estate

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