For all the talk about social media and technology, the bottom line is that these tools provide you an opportunity to get you face-to-face with a potential client. Rather than fleeing from technology, embracing it opens up a whole realm of opportunities for new business.

Ten years ago I was training agents to engage in "circle prospecting." When you obtained a new listing, you would send out postcards to at least 100 homes in the surrounding areas. If you were holding an open house, you’d take Saturday morning to knock on the doors of 20 neighbors to personally invite them to attend. You could also pick up the phone and cold-call people to ask if they knew of anyone interested in buying or selling a home.

For all the talk about social media and technology, the bottom line is that these tools provide you an opportunity to get you face-to-face with a potential client. Rather than fleeing from technology, embracing it opens up a whole realm of opportunities for new business.

Ten years ago I was training agents to engage in "circle prospecting." When you obtained a new listing, you would send out postcards to at least 100 homes in the surrounding areas.

If you were holding an open house, you’d take Saturday morning to knock on the doors of 20 neighbors to personally invite them to attend. You could also pick up the phone and cold-call people to ask if they knew of anyone interested in buying or selling a home.

For every 100 personal contacts, you might find two or three who were interested in buying or selling a home in the next 90 days. For the other 98 percent, your phone call or door-knock was probably an unwelcome intrusion — and the postcard you sent went in the trash.

The reason these strategies have such low returns is that the recipient of our marketing efforts has no connection with us. A postcard, a door-knock or a cold-call does not build connection. These strategies all fall into the realm of "advertising" — that is, creating awareness. They do nothing to really help a potential buyer or seller get to know you.

Granted, if you send enough mailing material, someone may recognize you at the grocery store or remember that you work for a specific company. However, this doesn’t mean they will pick up the phone and call you when they’re ready to list or sell a piece of property.

One of the most surprising statistics at the Real Estate Connect conference in New York City came from Vanessa Fox. She said that statistics show that two-thirds of all Web visits are generated from offline resources. While a large majority of consumers visit various Web sites seeking information, when it comes down to actually selecting an agent, trust and connection are still the two critical factors.

It’s clear that the majority of buyers or sellers hire based upon trust. In fact, The 2009 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers reports that 54 percent of all buyers surveyed either selected an agent they had used in the past or were referred to that agent by someone they trusted.

In terms of when people sell, 40 percent of all sellers relied on a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative. Another 24 percent used the agent from whom they previously purchased their home, and 9 percent received a referral from their current agent or from a relocation company.

In other words, 73 percent of all listings were based upon relationships where the seller relied on a past personal relationship with the agent or a referral from a respected source. …CONTINUED

Even when you meet a referral face-to-face, you still have the job of building connection and trust. One of the best ways to do this is to be genuinely interested in your referral’s lifestyle, their passions and their family.

So how does all of this relate to marketing using social media and technology? If you’re just blasting out your listing information, you’re advertising (and probably irritating your friends and followers).

The law of attraction says, "Like attracts like." In other words, people with whom you share commonalities are more likely to do business with you. This is where social media absolutely shines. Unlike old-fashioned prospecting, people who are active on social media are actually looking to engage with others.

To capitalize on this, use social media to discover people who share the same interests as you. Here are three easy suggestion:

1. Attend a Meetup
Visit www.Meetup.com to become involved in groups that meet face-to-face in your area. Make sure you’re attending a meetup where you have a genuine interest.

2. Host a Facebook fan page
Form a Facebook fan page about your neighborhood or something else about which you are passionate. When you meet neighbors or discover others who have things in common with you, your mutual interests form the foundation that leads to trust and connection.

3. Use Foursquare
A substantial amount of the activity on Foursquare seems to be competing for badges that show which places you go to on a regular basis. Instead of just competing for the ownership of a "badge," use Foursquare to connect with those who share your passion for the same favorite places such as a local Italian restaurant, winery, spa or music venue.

Remember, the process is similar to building a relationship with a new neighbor. It will take time before they trust you, but a shared interest is a great place to start. As you get to know others who share your interests, you increase the probability that they will do business with you. Best of all, it’s much more fun than dialing for dollars.

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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