Why God Invented Realtors

Realtors have different roles in different states.  In New York State they are not allowed to write contracts – that is for the lawyers.  In other states, like California, Florida, Realtors do write contracts and money goes into escrow.  Regardless of which state you are in Realtors help people buy and sell real estate but they do so much more.  They help in a crisis, make people happy and sad, and they protect a home like its their own.

On the right path

On the right path

Realtors help people choose a home that maybe just a season, such as a summer rental but they can hold fond memories for a lifetime.  They hold peoples hands and allay their fears of choosing wrong.  They listen to sad financial or family tales that have affected the buyer, renter, seller in setting their choices.  Realtors become friends.

Front 2

Their dream home can be small, large or some where in between.  Everyone has a different dream home.  Sometimes it’s a first home, sometimes it’s a second home.  Sometimes it’s a retirement home.  Some people choose quickly, Realtors like those people best.  Some people take years to decide on a particular home, Realtors like those people least.

Confidante, business person, friend, one who helps fulfills the dream of buying a home -All these terms apply to Realtors.  Some clients are repeaters and others you never see again.  They all have meaning, not just financial, because each deal is a learning experience.

Dream Home

Dream Home


Back to the Future

BTTHEfuturecell phone slideBack in 1998 I worked at Duracell on rechargeables. I was what they called an HPC – High Powered Chick. I allowed them to call me a chick only then. The rechargeables I worked on were cell phone batteries. Didn’t know they made them? Yes I know, and part of the reason that division closed later in 1998. Duracell was trying to be the Number 3 company for replacement batteries. They were thinking ahead to a time when cell phones, or, your mobile (oh – how many meetings were there to determine cell or mobile??) phone was going to be an everyday part of most peoples lives.  The same way that replacement alkaline batteries are for our electronic devices.  Cell phones could cost upwards of $700 then, not a small investment.  Most people didn’t have one in 1998. Motorola and Qualcomm were the leaders in the U.S. with their StarTac and Faser phone a la Star Trek – the thinnest flip phone to use CDMA their digital frequency we take for granted today. Sprint was the leading telecom to utilize the digital frequency and the two companies made great partners and a great product. You couldn’t upgrade to get a new free phone for a two year contract then.

Hmm? Forward to 2015.
Guess what, after years of upgrading to a new phone for free or very little in investment, usually under $100 depending on the phone you choose, we have to buy them! If not buy them then lease them for a year or two. Lease? What?
iPhone or Samsung, or Sharp (Yes, Sharp), LG or T-Mobile to AT&T to Sprint. Get the time machine I want to go back!

I want to go back to five years ago and see what made the mobile phone industry rewind to another time.  Yes, you can still get a phone that will text too for under $40 to buy and a similarly low monthly fee. But, if you want a SmartPhone, basically a hand held computer in another form, then you must pay upwards of $200 for the phone and a high monthly price.

And, all those games, promotions we see now, Europe and Asia had those gimmicks back in the late 90’s. Their landlines are not as good as ours, so citizens embraced mobile over there, long before we had the notion.  I used to have to examine all the offerings and relate it to how American’s would be interested and write analysis of it and present ideas at meetings.  At the time, I thought, only teenagers are going to be interested in games and other promotions. What adult is going to spend their day on gaming on a mobile phone? Oh, how we have changed as a nation because of our little hand held devices.  Be kind, rewind.

Networking 101

All too often these days young professionals, and you know who you are, are blatantly asking new acquaintances for job leads.  What agency will be there?  What agencies are looking to hire?  At a recent Marketing/advertising/Finance meet-up in New York City, those statements were posted on the home page long before the actual get together was taking place. What?

I responded to the poster that they need to attend meetings, get to know people and offer their expertise however light it maybe then ask for networking leads and not job openings.  Yes they responded well to my declarative statement and I did meet a couple of those people who did come to the meet-up.  Another YP (young professional poster) didn’t come when they found out not enough of the “agency” folk were attending.

YP’s please keep the following 5 steps to Networking in mind for future events, outreach.

1.  Not everyone at the Meet-up, networking professional association, event, is there to job search, some people actually come for social reasons so your direct “What jobs do you have for me?” Will be met on deaf ears.

2. Professionals, and that is what you are ascribing to be,  introduce themselves in person first and promote their elevator speech.  For example: “I’m Jeff and work in financial private equity.  I’m looking to transition to investor relations, might you have any advice for me?”

3.  Not everyone you meet and give your elevator speech too will be able to help you and in fact most will not. There is the chain of networking that is the excellent center of networking – to be able to refer you on to someone who someone knows who might be the right contact for the kind of work, clients, contractor, financial rep, etc. that you are looking for.

4. Present yourself as the professional you want to beNetworking is a two-way street.  If your speech is all about you – you will be limiting your goals and expectations.

5.  Learn to listen.  As the fellow you meet is speaking about themselves take note to ask their interests and see if you might have anything to offer them – other than yourself working for them.  You have neighbors, colleagues, alums from the school’s you went to.  Social Media is a great way to start those connections.

If you don’t have a #Twitter, #LinkedIn or #Facebook account you’re probably not a young professional!  Many people are shy at first to ask for a connection on LinkedIn but the person can only say no, or delay replying for months. Ha! Ha! Not that it happens too often ;0)

So have the elevator pitch on hand,  but first don’t forget to say Hello, and shake their hand and listen at your next networking event!

New Moon, Irene, Social Media (original post 9/4/2011)

(Since we just went through the Hurricane of the Century I looked back on my post last year after Hurricane Irene.  Apropos for social media, storms, and the things that follow. Some things don’t change. Enjoy!)

With the new moon last Sunday in Virgo here on the east coast it came along side hurricane Irene. Very intense earthly action was going on. For me and many others it triggered lots of stress in the form on insomnia, which ends up causing other stress related issues. Most were inconvenienced by no electricity, some had no running water, hot water, and something to cook by. It did seem #LIPA who runs the electric on Long Island took an inordinate amount of time to get everything up and running. They should have demanded 16 plus hour shifts in the beginning of the week, not just over the Labor day weekend to insure overtime pay. How does one these days get their messages out to the people and the powers that be? Social media.

I tweeted that to LIPA and looked up other hashtags (#) words to see what others were tweeting. Sure enough I came up with someone who was updating LIPA outages. I was also retweeted by WBLI and couple of other people insuring that my message got out to over 3000 people. I actually did get a response and ironically, no sooner than I did, the electricity came back on in my house. Hmm? Makes you think doesn’t it? As a public relations professional I know the power of the written, and spoken word and how contacting the right person, or persons, can make all the difference in the world in getting the message you want out across the mainstream and more. Two days later when there was a brief outage again, what did I do? Of course, I tweeted it. Almost immediately I got a response back too. Power was only out about twenty minutes but after four days of none, I wasn’t going to wait another moment to find out what was going on.

LIPA in comparison to the old LILCO needs to step up their repair process. 1985 was Hurricane Gloria and we were without lights then, but I do remember the repair trucks out in less than 12 hours after it hit, working through the night and days to get people up and running. The towns are responsible in part too by not cutting down dangerous trees with wires going through them. On a good stormy day, forget about hurricane force winds, those trees come down, take the wires with them and then everyone pays the price.

The #highway departments are responsible as is LIPA for storm damage if they don’t do their part in preventing certain calamities. My bills are ready to be reimbursed – just tell me which official to send them to. That should be the next step. Better safe than sorry next time.

To Twitter or Not to Twitter (originally published 2/2012)

When Twitter first came on the scene a few years ago I was hesitant.  I admit it.  I love following trends in communication and this was one so I did look at it.  I dismissed it as yet another attempt to capture the Americans time and look at me I’m an app mentality.  When I saw real journalists were using it I thought okay, this maybe a great way to connect with them.  I finally set up an account.  I quickly saw how useful 140 characters could be in catching the news of the day, entertainment, industry wide news and updates.  It was a chance to expose my writing to a different genre and promote my Blog at the same time.  Blogging can take its toll, I’m sure you noticed I don’t Blog as much as I used to but part of that fact is I am busier than 3 years ago – a good thing.  Watching Good Morning America this morning,  Steve Martin was on speaking about of all things Twitter!  He said he thought it was curious thing at first and was going to use it to promote his work.  He has found that he has created different characters and tweets in a comedic way.  Creepy Guy?  or @creepyguy  Now that’s someone you want to follow, or is he following you?

For all its whimsy Twitter has become the go to in times of crisis – while hundreds of people have been stuck on the runway in a plane they’ve tweeted about it.  When someone has had a traffic accident and is late to somewhere, they Tweeted about it.  When the @Whitehouse has a new statement on policy or change, they Tweet about it.  Looking to connect with someone you admire?  Tweet it and then follow them.  There are still totally trivial tweets and the inane but for a social media tool that is international in scope it has come a long way from just promoting oneself to utilizing words for inspiration, education, advocacy and fun!  @katwife

My article as it appeared in Newsday:  http://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/retirement/my-turn-getting-to-the-point-of-twitter-1.3561065

The Future of Communication – Repost (original 11/17/2011)

What a big topic to take on.  But Like the pyramids along the Nile they did.  #BDI (Business Development Institute)  the social media communication conference center did just that.   I’ve attended 3 such social media focused communication conferences put on through them in the past year.  Recently to celebrate ten years of conference and thought making they put together a seminar of five speakers who shared their ideas of what the future of communication will be.  There were touches on technology, trends and the human approach.  Five key speakers and five valuable views.  Take a look: Brian Kenny, Jenny Dervin, Ray Kerins, John Havens and Paul Hernacki were the keynote speakers.

1) The Future as Humanistic~ Brian Kenny of Harvard Business School said he hoped Powerpoint wasn’t the future. He was using a new presentation software and this Chief Communications Officer, the first at HBS, said the humanistic approach to communication is the future.  Actually responding to complaints, responding ethically to people whether they are clients, customers, students, or citizens at large.  This was seen largely as countering some of the bomb dropping, hands off approach of recent years that reported on the financial crises and corporate unraveling but didn’t account for many complaints before hand or after.

2) Jenny Dervin Director of Communications for JetBlue, analyzed old brick and mortar companies, Coca-Cola, Disney, even NASA compared to Starbucks, Walmart, today.  Contained communication, meaning within its own organization used to be the norm. Today they, JetBlue incorporate humanistic communication in their timely responses to customers complaints. They are frequently responding to Tweets, and allowing discounts, free tickets and the like to stranded passengers who are notified through social media outlets as well as the airport counter upon checkout or check-in.  She also said that everyday, the corporate leaders at her company are informed of social media hits, inquiries from the prior day.  Being informed of what people are saying outside is one way to stay on top of consumer trends, and spot areas that need improvement and track the improvements once they are made.

3)Ray Kerins of Pfizer the pharmaceutical giant spoke about improving their responses to consumers.  The social media landscape has made complaints and responses instantaneous and that has led to a whole new need to monitor and respond to such methods. He spoke of a recent flub up on their consumer advertising side where a Chapstick commercial ad was pulled after much  negative responses on Facebook and Twitter. They took the ad link down from FB but inadevertantly deleted all comments.  That caused more negativity. He was putting out responses about Pfizer committment to ethical treatment of all backgrounds and races, sexes, and that the commercial never should have been made.  Perhaps the future of communication is more integration of all corporate standards throughout the organization.

4) John Havens of Yoxi.com, who searches for social innovator rock-stars (SIR) spoke about how Facebook is the largest transactor of online sales in social media.  Over 9 million active users who buy credits for games, Zyinga and others.  Online or mobile app payments are the future of promotions, couponing, sales and the like.  Hitting someone with an ad or promotion in print, online or on TV will not be enough. He also said that the 4 most powerful words in business are “How can I help you.” Sounds humanistic to me.

5)Paul Hernacki of Definition6 spoke about how science fiction was the road map to some of today’s innovations.  Doors automatically opening such as at the grocery stores today and even upon entering some buildings were the imaginations of writers on Star Trek back in the sixties.    30 years ago what was unheard of is the norm now. QR codes, SIRI -voice activation, and mobile payments are the way to the future of communication according to this CTO.

There were some detractors in the audience who asked ” What if you are leading a company and can’t listen to all this feedback, sometimes you just have to lead.”  Well, needless to say this man didn’t get it.  Listening, responding in turn to questions and acknowledging one’s complaints, kudos, questions or concerns, is the way old brick and mortar companies from fifty years ago exist today.  Remember all those hot tech companies that came out and spent multimillion of dollars in TV ads – You know what’s its name who was big on belonging to online communities and special interest groups? If you don’t that’s because they don’t exist today and haven’t for close to ten years.

Here’s to the future –  if you listen, you just might find it.

Rules of Engagement

Return on Engagement or ROE is getting more attention in the social media space.  Where as ROI, or return on investment has been the norm in analytical settings more companies are looking to engagement as the best outcome.  Social media doesn’t guarantee  hits, or viewers as traditional advertising does.  But, it can reach thousands in niche spaces that a company, product or service, so desires.  It  can also reach to employees within a company to communicate fitness, positive behavior, social corporate responsibility and more.

At a recent #BDI (business development institute) event focusing on social media and internal communications the focus and take away from most of the presentations were around engagement.  One company used social media for their healthcare program.  Their health insurer #AETNA partnered with a company called #Shape-Up who asks employees to keep a page on their site and post health tips, tune-ups and various information.  This is measured and even when someone has left the company you can see on their page how much influence they had with other employees.  Influence measured by re-posts, comments, and likes.

Can you directly measure in dollar amounts the value of social media?  The simple answer has been no.  What you can measure is engagement, involvement to a certain degree.  On Twitter you have followers and you can see how many you have. The same case on Facebook but they are called – friends or likes for pages.

 Engaging Software: #Salesforce’s Chatter  has been making a buzz around the internal communications pool.  Lauded for it’s easy layout, and companies worried about regulations such as banking, finance like #Newsgator by Jive software for their control mechanisms.

Software can measure engagement, influence.

Employee reviews now can take into account employee influence.

Start Internally

Many companies mentioned that starting internally is a lot safer than immediately going to Twitter or Yelp.  Choose employees to Tweet on behalf of the overall company is a great tool especially when you have  a limited staff  Xylem and Wells Fargo said they utilized this practice.  Wells Fargo also gave an example of having a Twitter Chat while one of their executives was live on CNBC which netted them additional interviews with  The Wall Street Journal and others.

The focus on getting engagement from their employees has paid off.  At Xylem which makes solar water pumps they reward their employees with trips where their product is in use – primarily third world countries.  While not everyone wants to go those that do get to take pictures, tweet about it and when they come back tell their story on the company Blog.  CSR is taken very seriously at this company and the rewards are welcomed by the employees.

5 Take Aways for Social Media Engagement inside a Company

1) Empowering employees to make positive changes in their lives whether it’s weight loss or fitness.

2) Building morale, community and teamwork amongst employees.

3) Increase in employee engagement for the company and a feeling of increased value for the employee.

4) Effecting positive behavior changes in employees from unengaged to engaged.

5) Cost effective across the entire company.

Number five is probably what most people feel will sell it to the company.  It really takes very little to manage and the effects can be far-reaching.  So from what was the intranet to social media for internal communication the bridge has been crossed.  More software is being developed to gain chatter and measure influence.