Until the turn of the century we generally communicated only in person, over the phone or through emails and letters. Then we entered the 2000s and the way we communicate changed in a way that many could have never dreamed of.

We have stepped into a time where we no longer need to pick up a phone or meet for coffee to discuss what is going on in our life, what’s on our minds or what our plans for the future are. Today we simply take a picture or video and upload it to one of the countless social networks that are available to us and in rare cases even add a few words to go along with the post.

To say these communication tools have changed the way we do business is quite possibly the understatement of the century. So how exactly does one balance staying on top of all of these new trends and tools while still juggling their life both personally and professionally? This was one of the hot topics discussed at the Inman Connect conference in January.

Modern Agent panel at ICNY. Jessica Edwards in blue.

While participating as an Inman ambassador, I had the pleasure of listening to Coldwell Banker’s very own Jessica Edwards, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty. Jessica is the personification of what a “modern agent” is. She does an unbelievable job of balancing marriage, parenthood and business, and attributes much of her success to adopting technology into her life. In case you missed her session, here are some of her tips on transforming into a modern agent:

“It is the mindset, not the tools or technology, which makes a modern real estate agent so successful”

One of the first things that came up during her panel was the National Association of Realtors data that reveals the average real estate agent is 57 years old. Without skipping a beat, Jessica explained that being a modern agent has nothing to do with age, but has everything to do with mindset.

The first thing you need to be a modern agent, which is not something that can be learned, is curiosity. Without it, being a modern agent feels like a burden. There must be a desire to want to stay on top of tools, technology and new “shiny objects” that are making an impact on our industry. The job hasn’t changed, but those who are evolving and who find success are using new tools to assist them. There MUST be a willingness to adapt to what the client needs and how they want to communicate. If you are unwilling to adapt, your business will suffer.

On creating her “digital image”

Jessica understands the importance of how to marry her brokerage’s brand with her own brand and has mastered combining the two to create a powerful digital footprint. “I already have a brand, which is Coldwell Banker. I leverage the tools, benefits and resources Coldwell Banker provides to create my image.” Jessica stressed the importance of how all the working parts of her image must work together. By this she means her image comes from every single thing she touches, says and does both offline and online.

“It’s critical to be consistent in how my clients and public view me. From who I hire to work with me, to the clients I work with and listings I take, to the advertising and promotional activities I put out … even how I dress. How I interact with people in person, on social media, in video. It all has to work together.”

“Find your niche and really commit”

For Jessica, video has been her go-to way to transform herself into a modern agent. She was an early adopter of YouTube and has taken full advantage of Coldwell Banker’s exclusive partnership with YouTube and its On Location channel.

“If you are going to commit to video … really do it,” she told the room. She added, “Don’t get hung up on perfection and editing.” Jessica found video to be extremely uncomfortable at first until she discovered her secret studio — her car. Whether or not video is your thing, the key to her message was find what works for you and be yourself. Don’t obsess on “getting it right” or being perfect. Imperfection is real and people appreciate that.

“Today’s modern agent must always be a step ahead”

During the panel, Jessica explained how today’s consumer can “see in” and already have done research and gained knowledge before meeting with her. “One must always be a step ahead so they have the answers before the question is even asked,” she told the audience. To do this, think like a client. Where are they most likely looking for information and what are they finding? That way when you meet you can fill in the gaps with your expertise and provide value.

Being a modern agent does not mean being on every social media platform or having your cellphone surgically attached to your hand. Being a modern agent means working smart. It is understanding what technology is available and choosing the things that will make your life easier and make you stand out in a crowded marketplace. See more highlights from Inman Connect NYC here and catch take a look at her full panel.

Lindsay Listanski is the social media manager for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

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