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 mobile (oh how many meetings were there to determine cell or mobile??) phones were 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.

If You Can’t Afford it try Barter!

(This was originally posted in August 2009 and still is true today)

If you can’t afford a service or product have you tried to barter?  Bartering has been going on since the dawn of time in some form or another.  Pioneers traded furs and clothing for seeds, food, and other goods.  You of course have great services or talents to offer in exchange for that product or service you may not be able to afford at this point in time.  I have done barter in the past for a legal contract.  I helped an up and coming lawyer with some marketing and public relations advice.  She advised me she barters for her computer tech services.  The idea is to keep as close to actual costs as possible.  If one side is running up a credit and the other has a huge debit that can end the efficiency of barterdom.  This is helpful for many various services.  Who doesn’t need some additional positive publicity in this stagnant market.  Not everyone can hold a candle to their own light and let them see what they can offer the world.  Whether your expertise is accounting, finance, advertising, art consultant, or landscaper get thinking how you might be able to barter your services for some needed services for yourself.  Try to think out of the box and be flexible.  So, if someone would like to barter their services for marketing and public relations expertise, just let me know.

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!

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.