Has this ever happened to you? Someone you know -- the neighbor you've had over for barbecues, the favorite cousin you always loved hanging out with growing up, even your bestie who’s been with you through thick and thin -- goes out and does what every one of us dreads.
They hire a real estate agent, and that agent isn't you.
Oh it hurts, I know. And while there are many reasons why this may occur, I want to hit you between the eyes with the reason I feel is most significant: you failed in providing information, value, and appreciation to your Sphere of Influence. You took them for granted, made assumptions, and then expected them to show up and hand you an opportunity to earn thousands of dollars. You failed to show them the love.
This struggle - of remaining top of mind and being chosen - is not unique to real estate. We can learn from those in different industries - and even in politics. The Boston College library shared this about former Speak of the House Tip O’Neill:
Thomas P. O'Neill learned two great lessons from his first campaign. One lesson was learned on the last day of the campaign from his high school elocution and drama teacher, a neighbor who lived across the street from his residence. On that fateful day, Mrs. Elizabeth O'Brien approached the aspiring politician and said "Tom, I'm going to vote for you tomorrow even though you didn't ask me." O'Neill was puzzled as he had known Mrs. O'Brien for years and had done chores for her, cutting grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow. He told his neighbor that "I didn't think I had to ask for your vote." She replied "Tom, let me tell you something: People like to be asked."
The second bit of advice came a few days after the election from O'Neill's father. During the election, Thomas O'Neill, Sr., removed himself from his son's first election and left him to his own devices. However, after the election, he told Tip: "Let me tell you something that I learned years ago. All politics is local." During the campaign, Tip took his neighborhood for granted and did not work hard enough in his "own backyard." O'Neill took these lessons to heart. He would not hold his career aspirations over the interests of his constituents. The advice paid off: O'Neill served for fifty years in public office (sixteen years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and thirty-four years in the United States House of Representatives).
Are you working hard enough in your own “backyard”? Are you engaging with people regularly enough so that you have the right to ask for their business? There are plenty of things you can do to show interest and appreciation to neighbors, friends, family and clients, and it goes beyond the “who do you know who wants to buy or sell” phone call. Here are a few ideas that are certain to be memorable:
- Show them you’re the local market expert and economist. It could be possible that you aren’t seen as credible or valid to some who may know you. They may not trust you have the ability to work in their best interests. Solution? Produce and share a quarterly housing report, reveal trends and economic indicators, and speak like an authority. Use Relola to provide insights around inventory, and let the market map show all you know!
- Recognize their anniversary. I know an agent who gives her buyers beautiful monogrammed doormats as settlement gifts, and then replaces them each year at the anniversary of their purchase. No matter what you choose to provide, you’ll be remembered for your thoughtfulness - and certainly referred to others!
- Throw a party. A client appreciation party is a wonderful way to bring people together, including service providers and vendors. Consider doing this twice a year, and make it fun (and maybe even family friendly). Have a photographer on hand for candid shots and testimonial video clips. See our download for party-planning tips!
- Contribute to a neighborhood event or initiative. Annual yard sale? Sponsor electronic recycling and document shredding the same day. Pool opening? Bring in an ice cream truck and treat the residents. Lots of young kids? Door knock and distribute trick or treat bags to the community the week before Halloween. Ideas like these are a great way to meet and foster bonds with your neighbors.
Remember this - strive to provide without asking for something in return. The intention for each thing you do is to provide a benefit and some value; the business will come as a result. If your holiday greeting cards include a request for referrals, you’re going about it all wrong! Be genuine, seek to connect, and establish activities that are unique to you. You’ll stand out and grow in presence and ultimately production!
Beth Incorvati has been training, motivating, and inspiring real estate professionals for over fifteen years.