I had coffee the other day with three of my favorite sophomore agents. I coached all of them in their first year in the business, and we have stayed connected since.

  • Freshmen can and should learn from sophomores.
  • Find your real estate tribe and help each other.
  • Avoiding distractions and staying focused is a common challenge.

I had coffee the other day with three of my favorite sophomore real estate agents. I coached all of them in their first year in the business, and we have stayed connected since.

They are all in years two and three of their real estate careers:

The ‘About’ section

Lisi Buongiorno, Kasha Gamble and Nicholas Landis.

Lisi Buongiorno

Yes, you pronounce Lisi’s last name with your best Italian accent. Buongiorno lives and specializes in downtown Austin. She says some of the best networking downtown is simply taking the dogs out … it’s how you meet people in your building. Buongiorno has a strong business background.    

Nicholas Landis 

Landis is one of the most skilled networkers I’ve seen. He got into real estate because his family was involved, and he liked the idea of setting his own income expectations.  

Landis’ first deal was a $1 million-plus expired with an endearing 84-year-old; that listing appointment lasted over six hours, they raised the price $100,000, and it sold in nine days.  

On the networking topic, Landis works his national agent networks and in two short years has received 16 referrals; 10 have closed; one is pending; one currently listed.

Kasha Gamble 

Pronounced like “cash” in your pocket, Kasha Gamble is driven and smart. She likes to win; she loves to help.  

She raised a great big family and now this empty-nester is all over west Austin luxury properties and new construction.  

She calls this her encore career — it was a natural segue after designing and building four of her own properties.

Our conversation went something like this:

What are you focusing on in years two and three?

1. Five quality conversations per day

This piece of advice comes from Kristen Williams, top agent, instructor and MAPS Coach at Keller Williams Austin.  

All three of these sophomores had a big “aha” when Williams presented the quality versus quantity approach to successfully managing your day.  

So many agents get the dysfunctional message of big call volume and are relieved when they finally get the quality message.  

Five quality real estate conversations per day, consistently, day after day after day, can build a successful real estate practice.

2. Focus 

It was Buongiorno who referenced a “squirrel farm,” in other words, how easy it is to lose focus, to be pulled away from the most important activities or the challenge of treating everything as equal.  

Race horses use blinders to stay focused on the clear path ahead. Most solo entrepreneurs could use blinders to help with the focus. Buongiorno clarified that while she is not “the victim of” the squirrel farm, she does live in a “distraction-rich environment full of bright shiny objects.”

3. Systems 

Freshmen seem to lack systems, and then sophomores are keenly aware they need them.

4. Tech stuff 

Some of the most talented real estate agents struggle with technology. On the technology topic, we talked a bit about Facebook ads, CRMs and simply the desire to be more efficient.

5. Branding 

What is your branding? Is it your brokerage? Or is it you?  

And how do you want to present yourself to your sphere and the world?  

With most agents, it takes a year or two of being immersed in the business to gain clarity on the branding topic.  

All three of these agents are narrowing their focus a bit, realizing they do not have to be everything to everyone and gaining clarity on how to present themselves.  

And they all seem to be stepping up with professionally designed marketing pieces, signs, Facebook ads; they are leveraging outside services to better market themselves.

What do you like most about real estate?

6. Every day is different

Every client, investor, condo, negotiation, real estate agent — all different, never boring.

7. B2B

This was a surprise response. But once you’re in the business, you realize that your relationships with lenders, title companies, inspectors, repair professionals, and other real estate agents are key and strategic to how you run your business.

8. Thrill of the hunt

We like looking at property, but the bragging rights that come along with finding the best deal, the coolest property or the perfect solution are infectious and help build your business if done well.

9. Being in the deal

Landis says, “I love negotiating, I want to win … but I don’t get dirty.”

10. People contact

This is a simple one. These three professionals truly like the people aspect of the business.

Looking back, what mistakes did you make getting started?

11. Did too much; tried everything

12. Not confident enough to filter  

When you are new to the business and so much information is being thrown at you, you think you’re supposed to embrace it all.  

Filtering becomes a skill and a sign of confidence.  

Not comfortable on the phones, but exceptionally good in person? Great! Then double-down on the in-person stuff, and don’t compare yourself to the agent who cranks out 40 FSBO (for sale by owner) calls a day.  

Should you build skill on the phone and with FSBOs? Absolutely. But you’ll gain clients, momentum and confidence faster by filtering and focusing on what you like.

13. More on the squirrel farm (it was a theme)

Buongiorno said she needs to be in a pure, no distractions, white noise/view environment to focus. Someplace separate from her home office to make calls, like the downstairs lobby.

In other words, find your best work space where you can get stuff done.

14. ‘Holding the bar of soap too tight’

This one from Gamble cracked us all up and required a little explanation.  

Fine-tuning the art of communicating with a prospective client and how you come across as a person face-to-face is a learning curve. Gamble advises that it’s all about rapport. You can’t over-do it, and you can’t under-do it.  

Some agents scare away more clients than they attract. Squeeze them too tight, and they’ll run; too lose, and they’ll think you’re not a pro.

15. The firehose approach is too much

With any new endeavor, year one is intense with a steep learning curve.  

Put your seatbelt on, and do whatever it takes to build your pipeline and your competency.  

What advice do you have for first-year agents?

16. Don’t be afraid to start over

Did you lack focus your first six months? Or did you think you had it figured out yourself and did not need all those classes? Back up a little, and revisit some of the core lessons taught in your first year.

17. Get your head on straight

Get super clear about what you are building and who you want to be as a real estate agent, as a business person, and what you bring to the table 

18. Stay persistent

All three of these pros fully understand that building a pipeline is key, is a daily activity and is a long game.

19. Stop comparing yourself

Surrounded by $10-million, $20-million, $30-million producers and super stars? Stop comparing yourself. Every single successful agent had a first year in the business.

20. Don’t give up

Do whatever it takes to stay positive every day.

21. Lead with revenue

Every agent I have ever interviewed wasted money in their first few years. Don’t spend it until you have it. And if you do spend it, hold it super accountable to creating leads.

22. Build reviews

Start your portfolio of reviews online as soon as possible.

23. Study the market more

Landis said he figured out that he needed to study the market every day. It’s part of the job.

“If you preview just five homes per week, in six months you will know the neighborhood better than most veterans.”

24. ‘Why should I work with you?’

You better know the answer and present it confidently.

25. Every night write down what you want to accomplish the next day

26. You’re self-employed; manage your own retirement plan

Landis said the best advice he was given in his first year was to buy an investment property every year you are in the business.  

Two years in, Landis has two and plans on two more this year.

What advice would you give to sophomore agents?

Julie Nelson is the chief success officer at The Nelson Project, Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas. You can follow her on YouTube or Twitter

Email Julie Nelson.

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