• It’s not all about gross commission, sales volume or units. You need a compelling story.
  • If there is an honoree who lives in your area, give that person a call and see if you can pick his or her brain.
  • While they are not required, do not overlook letters of recommendation.

If you are in your 20s, the National Association of Realtors’ 30 Under 30 award, featured in Realtor Magazine, is a phenomenal honor to strive for.

The first time I applied, I had personally sold over 300 homes and my team was just shy of 1,000. Those are good numbers! I was a shoe-in.

Notice that I said, “first time I applied.” Yeah, that’s because I didn’t get the award the first time I applied.

I assumed my success was enough, so when I found out I wasn’t a recipient, I was pretty shocked (and, honestly, a bit pissed off).

If you know me, you know I’m highly competitive, so I took my frustration from losing and let it fuel my ambition.

I realized I couldn’t just bank on the fact I had an outstanding business. I had to go full-throttle. Here are the three things you should do if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Do your research

The NAR website has bios and stats on all the 30 Under 30 alumni.

Read through them. Take a look at each honoree and consider what is highlighted. Many of them do work in their community, hold leadership positions in professional groups, or have a unique marketing technique.

If there is an honoree who lives in your area, give that person a call and see if you can pick his or her brain. It’s even better if you know someone who can introduce you.

Honorees are a tremendous help and can provide you with their personal tips and tricks. The bonus of connecting with a former honoree is that you get to do a little networking. Their insight is invaluable and your connection to them may be beneficial in the future.

Doing your research can give you a leg up when it comes to applying. Use the information you obtain to help you craft a more thorough and thoughtful application

Think beyond the numbers

It’s not all about gross commission, sales volume or units.

Sure, being a top producer is helpful, but there are thousands of top producers. It’s likely that there will be agents who have sold more volume or have more transactions than you.

Think about it like a college application — it’s not just about good grades. Don’t put all your eggs in the numbers basket. You’re gonna need more than that.

Funny thing is, I actually had better numbers the first year I applied than the year I received the award.

Questions to ask as you fill out the application include:

  • What sets you apart from the crowd?
  • How do you positively reflect the real estate industry?
  • What are you doing that others are not?
  • What is your specialty — referrals, leveraging social media, community service, innovation?
  • What are you doing outside of buying and selling homes?
  • Who are you helping? How are you helping? How are you giving back?

For me, it was the infamous pizza box (I even sent the judging committee the pizza boxes). I had a robust and repeat referral business because I focused on exceptional and unique client service.

I had also recently started SkySlope, a digital solution to transaction management. It was in its infancy at the time, but it illustrated that I was an innovator in the real estate sphere.

Bottom line: You need a compelling story to help you stand out from the crowd.

Let others tell your story

Although they are not required, do not overlook letters of recommendation. A generic endorsement won’t hurt you, while a glowing review from a respected colleague or mentor can make all the difference.

I recommend selecting two people who care about you and can speak highly of you. Explain what you are applying for. Anyone you ask should be more than willing to vouch for your real estate acumen.

And to give them a leg up, you can provide them with some points in regards to what you would like them to mention. This is going to give even more credibility and support to the rest of your application.

Being named top 30 Under 30 is truly an honor — but don’t think that it’s going to drastically change your world. For many, the recognition is given to people who already have an excellent book of business.

No one is going to use you simply because you were named as one of the 30 Under 30. Sure, it’s another credit to hang your hat on, but it doesn’t come with the promise of more business.

Personally, the biggest takeaway was the relationships that I made with the other recipients. I still keep in touch with friends I made — and to me, that’s priceless.

Tyler Smith is founder and CEO of SkySlope. You can follow him on Twitter or on his blog.

Email Tyler Smith.

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