Eric Bryn is a social media wizard and all-around online guru for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World — a massive real estate network that includes about 600 real estate firms with 5,000 offices and 150,000 sales associates.

He is also an avid cyclist who has a thirst for "speed, adrenaline, and steep mountains" — the tumultuous housing market has shown no shortage of the latter.

His formal title is vice president of strategic development and intellectual property counsel for the LeadingRE organization.

Bryn formerly worked for two startup firms in the Chicago area and a professional services publisher. He has advised, trained and coached real estate execs and agents within the LeadingRE network on online marketing, blogging, social media, data analytics and Web strategies.

He blogs at The Real Estate Beat, which is the LeadingRE network’s corporate blog, and at his Real Estate Relativity blog.

Bryn will speak at the Inman News Real Estate Connect conference, which runs from Aug. 5-7.

Inman News posed a set of questions to Bryn:

What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?

I am not a market prognosticator. I focus on strategic and tactical choices brokers and agents can make to increase their brand equity through a variety of means — such as performance management theories that drive innovation and creativity in new product and service development, brand positioning through social media and direct response marketing practices, and using data analytics to drive higher return-on-investment.

That said, I see many brokers retooling their Web strategies — which includes wholesale Web site redesigns coupled with higher standards in hiring, recruiting and retaining agents — while focusing on understanding the nuances of Gen X and Gen Y in terms of these demographics’ psychology, wants, needs and demands when it comes to engaging them.

What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?

Your most important branch office is your Web site. Ensure that your Web strategy aligns with a singular focus on engaged responsiveness. If you’re doing an excellent job prequalifying clients and turning these clients over to an agent, demand accountability and responsiveness from that agent. Your brand reputation and your agent’s reputation are greatly impacted by how quickly you engage this client and how meaningful and professional this engagement is.

What made you join your current company?

Luckily, I fell into my current job through a referral from a friend. Pam O’Connor, CEO of LeadingRE and my boss, was looking for a project manager who could also spearhead some key product development initiatives. She must have been listening to ABBA the day she hired me.

What’s particularly rewarding about my job is my daily interaction with my team and the fact that Pam has given me the freedom to engage our membership (broker-owners as well as agents) on a variety of levels, from ideating and launching new products that make a difference for them in terms of brand positioning and ROI, to initiating training programs, to visiting members for hands-on training. The common thread is that I have the privilege to interact with some of the very best minds in real estate and have learned so much in the process.

What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?

I look at challenges as opportunities — opportunities to engage our member constituency at a higher level, opportunities to create products that make a meaningful difference in the lives of our brokerages and their agents. One of the biggest opportunities was figuring out how to get agents blogging in a way that takes the least amount of time for them, while giving them the maximum benefits of blogging. …CONTINUED

Hence, Propopoly was born. Propopoly allows LeadingRE agents to contribute posts to a hyperlocal blog via e-mail or voicemail. An editorial team reviews each blog post for a variety of content issues (duplicate content, for example). What’s been an amazing and transformative experience for me is to see the absolutely brilliant blog posts our agents are writing — many of these agents had never contributed to a blog before.

What new features are in the pipeline?

Growing our Propopoly blogging platform and expanding our training portal, LeadingRE Institute, which aggregates training services and products for broker/owners, managers and agents under one roof.

Can you share any future plans, goals?

Not at liberty to say at this time.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

All the social media presence in the world does not do you any good with respect to acquisition or retention initiatives if you cannot answer an e-mail, respond to a text message, or pick up the telephone in a timely fashion and engage a client in a professional manner.

What would your second career choice be and why?

Internationally ranked downhill skier or downhill mountain biker. I love speed, adrenaline and steep mountains.

What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?

Multiple listing service content is not more widely accessible via a multitude of applications. MLSs, in my opinion, should consider doing what Washington, D.C., is doing with its Apps for Democracy competition. How cool and wonderful would it be for an MLS to open up its content to a group of passionate and creative developers and see what’s created? I think we’d see some very innovative consumer-centric applications that would present MLS content in very novel and helpful ways.

What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?

Entrepreneurism is alive and well.

Tell us something we don’t already know about you …

In high school I was in the Tolkien Society and played varsity football, a dichotomous relationship I still don’t understand. And, I ride my bike 27 miles roundtrip to work almost every day along the Chicago lakefront.

Hear Eric Bryn speak during "Live Lab: The 30-Minute Brokerage Web Site Makeover," a session during the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7, 2009.


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