After a hectic and chaotic year where I wished many, many times that the phone wouldn’t ring so much, Christmas week has been as quiet as a library.

I don’t know if this is a recession signal or not; for all I know, it may have been like this last year, and I didn’t know because I was off visiting my mother out of cell phone reach. But this year, my husband and I have been just running and running to weddings and such, and I jumped at the chance to stay in town while things were a little slow.

After a hectic and chaotic year where I wished many, many times that the phone wouldn’t ring so much, Christmas week has been as quiet as a library.

I don’t know if this is a recession signal or not; for all I know, it may have been like this last year, and I didn’t know because I was off visiting my mother out of cell phone reach. But this year, my husband and I have been just running and running to weddings and such, and I jumped at the chance to stay in town while things were a little slow.

What would you do if the phone didn’t ring for a week? I spent an enjoyable week working at half-speed — I have a new listing, so I got the photographer in, although of course I hadn’t got the window-cleaning done before he showed up ready to take photos, so it ended up being just me and a roll of paper towels doing battle with the city dirt. (I guess now when I tell my clients that I’m going to roll up my sleeves to work for them, I’ll be able to say that I mean that literally.)

Similarly, Katie, my freelance Web designer/draftsperson, is away, so I have a fairly skeletal Web site up for the property, along with a floor plan that I spent three hours on but looks pretty much like I drew it on the back of a cocktail napkin. Maybe this is Katie’s way of making sure that I’m grateful for her, because I really can’t wait until she’s back and all is polished again!

While I haven’t been able to do much with the graphics, I have also been working on the content side. For example, financing; I think that now more than ever, it’s important to explain every step of the mortgage process to buyers, because they know it’s tricky and they’re so concerned about being scammed. So I’ve had one of the mortgage guys I trust pull available rates (which are great — sub-5 percent financing!) and I’m fleshing out the Web site copy that explains that the rent-vs.-buy ratio is finally turning.

Finally, I mostly finished Christmas. I had vowed to start building a business database, and now I have 40 nice, clean names and addresses, mostly "A" names of people who have referred me already or who I think would.

I have also a purchased list of 400 names in the ZIP codes I want to target — I’m going to spend some time over the next couple of months poking at those and forming them into a "C" list. What I don’t really have is a "B" list — so that’s the question I am bringing into Real Estate Connect NYC this week: How do you find your "B" names?

For those of you who haven’t been to Connect, it’s the New York conference that Inman throws — and it’s always great; I think this year will be my fifth or sixth time. Last year I left with my head popping with new ideas.

Now, if you are loyal readers you know that "all the stuff I wanna do" is a wide-mouthed funnel, and "the stuff I end up doing" is a pretty narrow straw. So, true to form, I didn’t end up implementing many of the ideas from last January’s conference.

But I did push through one; after listening to so many successful Realtors talk about the convergence of computing and telephones, I really started to rely on my smartphone. And my embrace of that little idea ended up really invigorating my business. I don’t want to sound like a BlackBerry commercial, but I made decent money this year (which was really my first comfortable year), and I think working with just that one technology had something to do with it.

So I look forward to the 10 ideas I’m going to walk out of the conference with this time, and then of course to whichever of those actually makes it to implementation. The way I work, I might start out thinking that I’ll come up with a technique to work B-level contacts but actually leave focused on new closing techniques.

Whatever happens, it will be a nice "thought break" to the work cycle. A little bit of intellectual jumpstarting before spring selling season. Hope to see you all Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; I am moderating panels the last two days, so stop by and say hi.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."

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