January started with a high note in the real estate business. The Buzz Conference was held in Mississauga at the Living Arts Centre, led by Virginia Munden and her team. This first edition of 2020’s Real Estate conference brought together people with all kinds of experience and knowledge in the field, ready to share and make a lasting impact. Speakers presented topics of all interests, a variety of information, and focus areas such as branding, digital marketing, PR, and so much more.
The Centre was exploding with energy, anticipation and endless information in support of the journey that each individual is at. Some people were veterans in the field, while others were just starting. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet knowledgable individuals and learn from their journeys.
One of the presenters, Stefani Konidis, began as a young agent in her early thirties. At the time, she joined her first brokerage in Toronto. Then, Stefani aspired to learn all she could from those who had already been in the business. She recalled her own experience and noticed that a person could quickly become isolated while getting started. She shared the importance of meeting people and networking with others. In her lunch and learn session, Stefani talked about “The Basics for New Realtors.”
It was full of concise information and insight enough to get real estate newbies to the starting line (and even a refreshing reminder for others)! Konidis shared the top 10 things you need to be doing to start the decade strong.
1. You’ve got to know your “why”!
Whether you are a real estate newbie or a well-versed entrepreneur - the one thing to get clear about is, “what is your why?” Taking time to ask this magic question is so crucial because this is where everything else will stem from. Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you want to be in the real estate business? Why do you get out of bed? What is your motivator?
Are you in the business because you love flexibility and challenge? Maybe you want to earn enough money to travel three times a year? Perhaps you know you’re great at sales, and you thrive by bringing your best self forward?
Stefani Konidis shared with the audience that “people do not buy what you do, they buy your why.” There are over 56,000 real estate agents in the Greater Toronto Area — why do people want to work with you? Getting clear on your reasons for doing what you do will inject energy into everything you do. And help you (re)direct your business.
2. Plan for success
To stay a long time in the business, you have to plan for success. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen without a little long term vision. According to Stefani, real estate agents should take advantage of October to plan their next year. That involves asking yourself a lot of questions! Different things can be done and steps taken to prepare for a successful year ahead. It’s never too late.
First, it’s essential to consider what direction you want to move in? What is your vision? What is your capacity? Asking yourself, “what is my budget?” “how many reasonable transactions can I make?” or “have I analyzed my current data?” are valuable questions.
To plan for success, you must take the time to analyze your neighbourhood, whether your business will be based on selling condos or houses, how much business can you realistically take in or handle?”
You have to do your due diligence and figure out how many transactions and deals you have made until now (fact-finding). Where did the business come from? What is the source of your business? Do your leads come from an online activity? Coffee talks? Open houses?
Answering these questions will help you see the gaps and where you have to investigate further or take action.
On the screen, there was a picture of marathon runners at the starting line. The audience could see which ones were ready. You could tell which runners have done this before. They were ready to start.
As a newbie, Stefani recommends that you know who your managers are? Who are your brokers? Can you meet the seasoned professionals and learn from them? Who can help you? Who are the rookies? It is your job to pick your battle each day, start, and keep going. From experience, Stefani learned to spend time and connect with seniors in the business. Taking people out for coffee can go a long way in building strong relationships.
4. Show up
By showing up, you will be doing most of the leg work. Woody Allen famously said, “80% of success is just showing up.” Experience taught Stefani Konidis to put in the effort to do everything she could to learn about her market. She showed up at open houses; she showed up at the office even though it was tempting not to. She learned that her colleagues had a wealth of information to share with her in her early days. She didn’t always have a client, but she kept on going, showing up, and listening to others.
Most importantly, she recommends taking a humble approach to beginnings. It’s primordial to get exposure, experience and to stay engaged with others. Another tip she offered is to accept every invitation you get. Fill up your calendar and get busy meeting new people every day. This is a business where you could easily fall behind if you don’t.
5. Focus on service
Service is everything, and it’s one of the most important (if not THE most important) part of the business. Think of others before making transactions, and make your business about honouring people. In the process of serving others, you create a relationship of trust and care.
Horst Schulze, a luxury hotelier and co-founder of the Ritz-Carlton, worked his way to making fiercely loyal customers. He was not satisfied to just offer a personalized experience to his customers. For him, it was essential to go above and beyond customer expectations and to make them feel that when they stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, customers felt like they were in their own mother’s home.
“Service is about caring. We are all in that business.” — Horst Schulze
6. Commitment to learning
As you grow and evolve in the business, you will always need to upgrade your skills. Committing to learning and excellence is a top priority. Just like you show up for your clients, you also keep showing up for yourself and continuously improving your skills for everyone’s benefit.
Your job is to take information and put it into context. This business is not about winning, but rather, always walking away in a better place than where you started. Because you will be building relationships, communicating, negotiating, understanding legal elements, finance, and so on, there is a lot to be learned and updated.
It’s the story about how not to place all your eggs in the same basket. In the real estate arena, it’s important to develop multiple lines of business. In 2020, there are many other ways to promote your business and connect with others. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are great platforms - as is LinkedIn. Leverage these! By keeping up with digital opportunities, platforms and tools - you can create leads, systems, and processes. If the digital world poses a challenge for you, you can always find people to help you take care of that - so you can do what you do best.
To collaborate doesn’t just mean you show up and go through the motions. It’s a lot deeper than that. It’s about helping and giving back to the community - you get back what you put in. If you cultivate a collaborative mindset, you can make something out of nothing.
Ask yourself: how can I make things better? How can I raise the bar? How/who can I help? Can I give someone good advice? Can I support the local community? By doing what? What about the industry? How can I get more involved?
Your business and how you show up are the elements that will make magic. It is crucial to set aside time to figure out how you will generating business for you and your team. You will need to choose the best ways to advertise your business and talk about it. What is your brand? Who is your client? How will you prospect? What do you need to do to drive traffic to your website/platform? Where do you meet your ideal clients?
The law of attraction is not wishful thinking and mood boards - it’s hard work that you will need to do.
Like any business, this one is hard work every day. Remembering your ‘why’ will keep you curious and aligned with what’s vital for you. Stefani Konidis’ advice is to create your business plan, review it every quarter, talk to team leaders, brokers and anyone in the business you can learn from, keep making connections and showing up, and most of all - to keep going.
Karen "Kay" Kininsberg
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