Imagine if your ideal customer only spent money with you once or twice every few decades.
That’s the reality many real estate agents face every day, making ongoing, reliable lead generation a necessity.
And while traditional (and I’d argue, outdated and overpriced) methods like bus stop signs, billboards and printed ads provide diminishing returns, I’m seeing more and more real estate agents turning to social networks like LinkedIn in search of fresh leads.
In fact, it seems like I’m getting more and more messages each week from real estate agents wondering if LinkedIn can be a viable place to find fresh leads, so I decided to write this post as a “once-and-for-all” answer I can share.
Can LinkedIn work for a real estate agent?
The short answer is, “Yes!”
The long answer is what I’m going to spend the rest of this post on.
Step 1: Use LinkedIn’s powerful data to build a localized network of potential clients and referral sources.
With nearly 400 million members worldwide, and with two new professionals joining every second, LinkedIn is one of the largest and fastest-growing social media platforms on the planet. Its members are professional, affluent and well-read.
Using my favorite strategy to locate and engage your ideal clients or prospects is a must for agents on LinkedIn. You’ll want to search and sort inside of LinkedIn’s millions of professional groups by location to ensure you’re finding and connecting with people in the part of town in which you want to sell properties.
Step 2: Have a strategy and a solid “ask” in place.
I’ve talked before about the concepts of crafting irresistible LinkedIn invites and creating your own personal fishing pond on LinkedIn, and both elements are critical for a real estate agent (or anyone else) who wants to earn people’s time and attention on LinkedIn.
Bottom line: You must use personalized invitations, and you must have something of value or benefit to the person you are inviting to connect.
Just saying “I’d like to connect” is not enough. Tell me why we should connect — what’s in it for me?
Step 3: Become a media company.
Timing is everything for a real estate agent. You need to be in front of people all the time. But sticking your face on a billboard or bus-stop shelter is not the best or most cost-effective way to do this.
Instead, why not be visible and build trust, likability and authority at the same time?
The way you do this is by becoming a media company — creating and sharing content that makes you likable, demonstrates your knowledge, and provides value to your target audience.
Here’s an example. I live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. If I’m getting ready to move somewhere within the Twin Cities, I want to know the best schools for my kids to attend. I want to know what property taxes are in the areas where I’m looking. I want to know about new residential construction projects, because I’m inept at home repair and want something new. I want to find out which neighborhoods or cities have the best parks and trails for outdoor adventures with the family. I’m curious about what type of shopping or restaurants or entertainment options are in each location, too.
If you’re a real estate agent working in a specific part of the Twin Cities, you should already know these things. So share them!
Create (and publish right on LinkedIn) blog posts, videos or photos sharing this type of information. Link to news stories, studies and surveys about the areas in which you sell homes.
This is not rocket science — it’s about becoming useful to me as a potential client or referral source. It’s also about me getting to know, like and trust you by seeing your face all the time on LinkedIn and associating it with helpful, friendly and relevant information.
Content creation secrets
Also, there are simple ways to create content even if you’re not a writer or creative type. For example, you can record yourself talking or explaining a situation or service type you would to a home buyer, and then send the audio file to a site like SpeechPadto get it professionally transcribed for $1.00 per minute.
Send over the audio file, and get back a polished Microsoft Word document with a ready-made blog post written in a conversational tone.
Snap photos on your iPhone of the areas you serve, and share them every single day on LinkedIn to remind people in those areas that you’re around, you’re seeing what they’re seeing, etc.
Make fun, animated videos that highlight the services you provide and showcase testimonials from happy home buyers.
I could go on, but you get the idea!
Step 4: Connect with HR professionals and others who can refer business to you.
I’m talking about home builders, construction companies, HR professionals who have to help new employees find housing, relocation services professionals — they’re all on LinkedIn. ( Here’s the easiest way to find them all in one place.)
Connect with these folks and begin building relationships!
Step 5: Start a professional group.
Along with sharing your content via the LinkedIn news feed and blogging platform, it makes great sense to create your own LinkedIn group to which you can invite people. (This is also a great “ask” to have when you first connect with new prospects.) It follows my “fishing pond” strategy of stocking your group with all the best prospects or potential referral partners you come across on LinkedIn every day.
LinkedIn is an untapped goldmine for real estate agents or anyone else looking to generate more leads. The key is having a strategy and plan in place before you go out and begin using the network.
You’ll want to make sure you automate as much of the process as possible, including the ability to track all the invitations, connects and interactions you create on LinkedIn day after day.
John Nemo, Contributing Writer
South Florida Business Journal