I am now accepting friends.

It became a little running joke at the Inman Real Estate Connect conference last week. For reasons known only to the sloppy vendor responsible for my brain’s faulty wiring, I felt compelled during a panel discussion to publicly announce that I was, more or less, friendless. "I have 12 Facebook friends!" I blurted, and I was actually bragging when I said it. Having started the morning with a high "five" on my Facebook tally board (median age 16.8), I was feeling somewhat empowered.

My daughters know that I am constantly on a mission to "get it." While I still don’t get how Facebook is going to further the pay-the-bills cause at Chez Berg, I figure I need to give it a reasonable try before it goes the way of the 846 other failed social networking attempts I have perpetrated. I suspect there is some critical mass that needs to be realized before I can cast the final vote, so onward I go. And the support has been overwhelming.

From my Number Two daughter this morning, I find this comment on my wall:

i like how a fifth of your friends are my friends.
but hey, 29 friends isn’t bad!
keep up the good work :)

Now, clearly her "shift" key is broken, and I am a little worried about her math skills, but that’s not the point. At least I am trying. And I’m not taking Facebook or my place on the social networking scene too seriously.

My life is one scary balancing act, and most days I feel like I am teetering on a high wire wearing swim fins. So many agents share their stories with us about having successfully capitalized on the vast offering of online marketing opportunities, turning social networking into big bags of business and wads of cash, and I have no doubt that some have truly been successful in their endeavors. But, we all have to pick and choose. One hundred percent of your business being derived online means that 100 percent of your time is being devoted to those activities. Yet, if all you do is mail your Recipe of the Month card, I suspect that all of your business is going to be Salisbury steak-related. No one approach is right or wrong; we each have to decide what is right for us.

Blogging has worked for me, but it is not for everyone, and I challenge you to question the authenticity of the "you are a pathetic loser if you don’t blog" rhetoric. As a case in point, we were discussing multiple offers with a selling client last week, and one was slightly better than the other. The client informed us that they would be accepting the lower offer. Say what? It turns out they had performed a Google search on each of the agents. For one, they found nothing. As for the second, they found his blog on ActiveRain and immediately determined that they didn’t want to do business with him. His tone was arrogant, they said. His posts were overrun with typos and poor grammar and disdain for the consumer, they mentioned. He was toast, and the agent who seemingly had no online presence whatsoever had a sale — not because she was great at online marketing but because she didn’t stink at it.

I can’t do everything. I can’t do everything because there aren’t enough hours in my 28-hour day, and I can’t do everything because I am simply not good at everything. Teresa Boardman rocks on Flickr. She rocks because she has a passion for photography and is very, very good at it. For me, to attempt to generate business through Flickr would be as productive as a door-knocking campaign on Mars. The nine photos I currently have posted there, photos I uploaded in a moment of weakness thinking it better to use their bandwidth instead of my own, look like they were taken in the coat closet at midnight wearing goggles. My gallery, therefore, falls short of being a compelling call to action. Teresa, on the other hand, belongs there.

Marketing on-line is no different than marketing on the ground. I would rather do three things well than two-dozen things haphazardly. There are more opportunities than any single person can implement, so we need to be constantly trying new things in order to determine what works. Your bus bench ad is my blog and is the next guy’s print mailer. No one can tell you what is right for you but you.

Not everything in our lives is about making money, of course, and social networking can be just that — social. But, if you are engaging online with the intent of growing your business, you have to be selective. Otherwise, you will make yourself crazy and neglect the activities which are most suited to you and your style. And, like any marketing activity, you have to let it season before you can really know if it is going to produce the desired result — more business.

So for the moment, I am accepting friends. But this could be a limited time offer, so act fast.

***

What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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