Thursday
October 23, 2014

Social Capital: Creating Strong, Lasting Business Relationships

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Social Capital: Creating Strong, Lasting Business Relationships

Cultivating lasting relationships with your prospects and past clients take authenticity, time, and a little homework. Here are some tips for establishing yourself as an asset to your social media community.

There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about the definition and usefulness of so-called “social media.” Wikipedia defines social media as: “The means of interaction among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment on various content among themselves in virtual communities and networks.”

The question is what are we communicating about? Is most of the chatter a waste of our time and resources? Anyone reading this has heard someone say, “I hate Facebook [or other social media]. Who cares who is walking their dog when?”

Unquestionably, there are those who use social media solely to communicate with family and friends. However, turning social media into capital and downstream business requires selfless initiatives. “Selfless” means converting our business, friend, and family relationships into financial value for them rather than us. Simply put, we will reap only what we sow.

Thinking that money is more important than relationships and success requires behaving like a shark in one’s business transactions. This is the antithesis of successful social media interaction.

Mistakes in thinking are costly, and the total loss of revenue is impossible to quantify as much as it’s intangible. However, it’s safe to say it could easily amount to thousands of dollars annually. Right thinking means understanding incontrovertible principles, such as: underpromise and overdeliver; engage in transactions that benefit the client or prospect; value truth and integrity above all; have a sincere desire to consistently offer superior service; and treat your clients and prospects as though they feed, clothe, and house you … because they do!

If you’re just beginning to use social media as a business enhancement tool, work toward growing professional relationships with 500 prospects. If you already have an active network, continue to add to it weekly. However, understand that it costs more in financial and personal resources to find new relationships than it does to maintain the ones you’ve already developed.

Social media communication is not a once-a-month initiative. It requires ongoing diligence and creativity. Bringing useful information, data, and knowledge to your prospects and clients requires you to do your homework to keep current with the trends and issues affecting the community at large and individuals’ daily lives.

It is as important to your “community” to know who won the Little League game as it is to know of business openings and closings, governmental initiatives, and so on. You can’t portray yourself as the community expert if you’re lacking the expertise!

When you provide reasons for your community to visit your social media sites daily, you’re establishing yourself as the valuable asset you are. Wouldn’t it be great to be the person known as “the go-to pro when it comes to all things real estate and community-event specific?” When you consider that the NAR 2011 REALTORS® Technology Survey said 90.5 percent of agents use social media to one extent or the other, it’s safe to say there’s stiff competition out there.

My advice is to automate your sites as much as possible. That is not to say to remove the hands-on personalized initiatives; it means to work smart, not hard. It’s simple to create all your blog posts for the week and schedule them to publish and appear in your social media feeds daily. And when immediate “news” comes up, post it. By working in this way, you are both providing high-touch communication and balancing your time invested.

A common complaint about using social media regularly to generate relationships is the time required to make that happen. There are many reliable resources available to teach how to best incorporate social media into one’s overall lead generation. It would be unwise to launch into a social media blitz blind to the pitfalls and ignorant of the time-saving initiatives available. It is a worthy endeavor to educate oneself. NAR is an excellent resource on the topic.

Building a credible online reputation is worth its weight in gold. Respecting all the REALTOR® Code of Ethics rules is a must. Respecting privacy and posting nothing personal without prior permission is non-negotiable. There have been cases of agents who have invested much time and money developing their social media presence only to lose it all by using their sites in ways that upset or offended those who had entrusted them with their information. Better to err on the side of being overcautious than to make an irrevocable poor decision!

Working social media networks is fun, generates worthy business opportunities, and connects agents to people with whom they never would have connected. When approached wisely, social media is just what the public ordered.

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