One development from the real estate market slowdown centers on the growth in education and training for those of us who work in the industry. Professional REALTORS – agents and brokers who are committed to the industry, their clients and REALTOR values – have made a conscious decision to commit to a higher level of learning. The knowledge gained allows them to keep up to date on developments in real estate and the business worlds, and even creatively modify their business model.
Education can be the inspiration that can change your future. When you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Although it may be challenging to constantly learn new things and adapt, it allows you to better serve today’s client most effectively.
Here’s an example. I recently taught a one-day course through NAR called “Generation Buy,” which examines the buying habits of people from different demographic groups, from the Generation X and Millennials to the Boomers and the Matures. Most homebuyers today are very well educated, and there’s a totally different methodology regarding how you should effectively communicate with each group. They all want to receive your message in a different way.
As an instructor, I know I can serve my clients best by becoming better educated myself. I prefer to opt for the so-called “masters” level of education that transcends the general required continuing education courses needed for broker/sales license renewal. It might be a class offered through the Council of Residential Specialists, REBAC or the Masters Certified Negotiation Expert course, which I also teach. I systematically choose which skill set will best enhance my business today and in the future.
As REALTOR leaders, we have to inspire other REALTORS, including younger professionals, identify those who have a true passion for this industry and encourage them to participate in their local and state association leadership communities. We need to lead by example and encourage these young REALTORS to get involved with the development process on their local association education committees. And, we need to serve as mentors, but we also have to learn how and when to get out of the way!
In addition to constantly honing our own skills as REALTORS, we need to know what’s happening in our own marketplace and our business. REALTORS should be shining examples of what’s happening in the marketplace. If you don’t know what’s happening in the marketplace, you’re not “in the business.”
Looking to local business networks is a great way to build leadership skills and stay on top of what’s happening in your market. Many organizations – like the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce in my market — have awesome leadership academy programs that are not REALTOR-centric, but focused on local business and business professionals.
These programs provide the knowledge, but let you step outside the box to build your business by growing your network. I may have lunch several days a week, but not always with fellow REALTORS; I try to make appointments with other business people. These relationships help me sharpen and develop my leadership traits, learn new skills and build my business.
Deb Greene, ABR, CIPS, CNE, CRS, GREEN, GRI, SFR class of 2011 from Minneapolis, Minnesota
All leaders need to be outstanding communicators, because a leader is communicating something with just about every action he or she makes. To power solutions, all leaders have to develop and sharpen tried and true public speaking skills, even in today’s increasingly digital world.
As a 2010 graduate of the NAR Leadership Academy, I interacted with some very seasoned real estate professionals. Most of the Academy participants, including myself, walked into the room with very good public speaking skills. But one additional benefit gained was furthering my self confidence, which I believe helped strengthen my abilities as a public speaker.
From my perspective, an effective leader does not always have to possess tremendous skills as an orator. To me, leaders can be effective at face-to-face communication if they are inspired about the topic and demonstrate passion for the subject. Not everyone can be a spellbinding speaker, but if you’re passionate and can tell a good story, you can inspire the people around you.
Effective speakers are, in essence, masters of their domain. They know how to pick up cues from the audience and how to maximize the opportunity to get their message across effectively. By being a master of their domain, good speakers deliver messages that the audience will not only understand, but accept and retain for a longer period of time.
We’ve all been advised to make eye contact with the audience during a speech, frequently scan the room and make a point of speaking at an individual for a brief period of time. These are all great traditional tactics to follow. I’ll re-emphasize, though, how important it is to be relaxed and be yourself. Do something that makes you feel comfortable so you can be the master of your domain.
My favorite tactic is to get out from behind the podium so I can work the room. If I’m trapped at a podium, I get sedentary; from my perspective, people are bored by this kind of delivery. I’m a fairly animated speaker, and some may find my type of delivery to be a distraction. As the speaker, being animated helps me remain comfortable and stay focused.
Effective speakers don’t always need to incorporate electronic or other visual aids in a presentation, but they can make a difference in getting your message across. Presentations based on PowerPoint slides can work for some audiences, but I like to use short video clips as a way to help tell a story. In fact, I often use clips featuring Charlie Brown because so many people know who he is and we all can relate to Charlie Brown in some way.
Some final advice: Great speakers make the time to know their audience. If I’m addressing a group of fellow Realtors®, I quickly can understand the mentality of the audience. In some way, those of us in the residential market are kind of a group of misfits. We all have varied and diverse backgrounds, and we’re all creative, spirited and independent. Those are qualities I certainly can relate to.