If you’re into social media, one of the best ways to meet like-minded real estate professionals is to attend a real estate BarCamp. Today’s column shares some of the best strategies from the Real Estate BarCamp held at Trulia, as well as Real Estate Connect San Francisco.

1. Getting started
Gahlord Dewald in his keynote address suggested that an excellent way to get started is "to aggregate good resources for the community." The process is simple. When you find a post or a tweet that is appropriate for one or more of the people in your network, resend it to them.

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 3.

If you’re into social media, one of the best ways to meet like-minded real estate professionals is to attend a real estate BarCamp. Today’s column shares some of the best strategies from the Real Estate BarCamp, held at Trulia’s headquarters, as well as the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco.

1. Getting started
Gahlord Dewald, in his keynote address, suggested that an excellent way to get started is "to aggregate good resources for the community." The process is simple. When you find a post or a tweet that is appropriate for one or more of the people in your network, resend it to them. When you retweet (resend someone else’s post), also take time to comment on their blog or acknowledge them in some other way. In most cases, they will return the favor by following you on Twitter or friending you on Facebook.

2. Beyond the geeks
Social media is no longer about geeks talking to each other about technology. Instead, social media today is about people with personality discussing what interests them and what makes them interesting. The temptation is to confuse connection and conversation with the technology. Yes, the technology has changed, but all the innovations come down to one simple fact: Technology is merely the channel through which we communicate. Whether it’s a tweet, a text message or a phone call, it’s what is being said that matters — not the mechanism used to deliver the message.

3. The karma economy
According to David Gibbons, director of community relations for Zillow.com, the way we conduct business has undergone a sea change. The hard sell is dead. Marketing in this new world is no longer about you. Instead, the karma economy has taken its place. In other words, the new mantra for building your business is, "What can I do to help you?" When you help others, you build social capital or "Whuffie." The more you give, the more you get back and the larger your network grows. As one of the other speakers put it, "Engagement is the new marketing metric."

Before the Web, agents grew their sphere of influence one person at a time. Whether the agent used snail mail or bulk e-mail, it took time and effort to build a large referral database. Gibbons said social media allows you to grow your sphere of influence quickly and exponentially. Each person who joins your network amplifies your ability to expand your sphere of influence. In fact, using Facebook and Twitter is the equivalent of putting your "sphere of influence marketing on steroids." …CONTINUED

4. Google search is pretty much irrelevant
Perhaps the most startling observation that Gibbons made was, "For me, Google is pretty much irrelevant. Instead of wasting time combing through search results to find the answer to a specific question, I simply check with my friends on Twitter. The responses are immediate and they are also much higher quality. I use Twitter to get what I need faster and in more detail than I ever could from a search engine."

5. Comment marketing
Zillow Chief Operating Officer Spencer Rascoff raised an important issue regarding which Web 2.0 activities provide the best return on your time. Rascoff’s take on the issue was: "Commenting on 20 blog posts vs. the time it takes to create a single post for your own blog will provide a better return on your time." Rascoff calls this "comment marketing." This is one of the most important issues agents must address.

Is it better to spend your time trying to build traffic on your own blog or is it wiser to actively comment on blog posts where there are already substantial amounts of traffic? The best answer is that you probably need to do both. A major challenge with blogging is constantly coming up with what to write. When you use comment marketing, you can pick and choose where you would like to respond. It’s much easier than starting with a blank computer screen.

6. Complete a frequently raised objections list
Many Web sites have an FAQ: a list of frequently asked questions. Sonia Simone, senior editor at copyblogger, suggested that agents list all the possible objections that a buyer or seller might have about their specific market. The agent should then answer every single objection. By doing so, the agent is able to remove the barriers that would keep potential clients from working with him or her.

7. Are you ready to do the ‘Bump’?
My favorite new application from BarCamp was for the iPhone. It’s called "Bump." After you download Bump from the App Store, be sure to add yourself and your contact information to your iPhone address book. Then, when you meet someone who also has Bump, all you have to do is to bump hands while holding your iPhones — the two phones exchange your personal contact information.

This is an incredible tool for conferences and networking. Rather than worrying about scanning all those business cards into your address book (or worse yet, typing them by hand), it’s all done automatically.

Need more help maneuvering through the maze of social media? If so, check out next week’s column that unlocks the secrets of working with Facebook.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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