Realtors are an interesting group of people. If you want them to attend a meeting or an event, you either have to provide continuing education credits, free food or both. Food is probably the best way to get a group of Realtors together, even for an educational event.

Yesterday we held the first ever RE BarCamp event here in Minnesota. There are some things about RE BarCamps that are important. I am not talking about the camps themselves, but about why they exist. The events represent a grassroots movement started by Realtors because we need more education.

Realtors are an interesting group of people. If you want them to attend a meeting or an event, you either have to provide continuing education credits, free food or both. Food is probably the best way to get a group of Realtors together, even for an educational event.

Yesterday we held the first ever RE BarCamp event here in Minnesota. There are some things about RE BarCamps that are important. I am not talking about the camps themselves, but about why they exist. The events represent a grassroots movement started by Realtors because we need more education.

There is a huge need for training in our industry: one-on-one training and group sessions on technology and social media. The gap between the Internet-savvy Realtors and the not-so-Internet-savvy Realtors seems to be getting wider.

In 2006, I gave my very first presentation in a real estate office on how to start a blog and what a blog is good for. At the time it did not surprise me that there were some people in the room who did not know the meaning of the word blog.

Yesterday, when I gave a brief presentation dubbed "Blogging 101," I was surprised that I had to explain what a blog is. This is not unique to Minnesota. I have encountered the same thing in other states. In talking to my peers between sessions and at the breaks, I kept hearing the same things over and over.

They need and want more training. They want hands-on training and demonstrations, not just articles, success stories and the short sessions we have at the RE BarCamps.

They have so many questions. There are exceptions — those who choose not to expand their skills. But we don’t care about them, as they won’t be around much longer.

The fact that a couple hundred Realtors from several brokerages all congregated for a daylong educational event speaks volumes. Maybe they came for the free food, but they could have gotten that by going on tour instead of attending the camp.

Many of the agents who attended never heard of the Web sites and products that their peers and the presenters have been using for years.

Our industry has been knocked around in the last few years. Turned upside down is probably a better phrase. The world has changed and it doesn’t work the same way that it did in the 1980s. …CONTINUED

The 1990s keep calling and asking us to give back the agent template Web sites — complete with for-sale sign and happy couple holding house keys — but we won’t give them back.

Real estate companies and real estate boards can add value by providing more relevant training, and if they don’t they will continue to lose relevance.

We are getting our educations in the streets, so to speak, and may even end up getting ourselves or our brokerages in trouble. It is not unusual to encounter a RE BarCamp speaker who may not be promoting the best practices for the Internet.

We write and talk about new brokerage models and the value of a brokerage. The biggest opportunity for brokerages may be agent training. This is the Information Age.

If you are a Realtor reading this, don’t wait around for your brokerage or for continuing education classes. We are responsible for our own education, and it is always alright to go to classes that cost money, don’t serve food and don’t involve CEUs and that are not just for Realtors.

Social media is still called technology by many real estate trainers, and much of our training consists of salespeople from technology companies coming in to pitch their products or services.

Or it is aimed at selling and promoting the brokerage brand. The brand is promoted more successfully and for a longer period of time if the agents are taught how to use today’s tools and marketing concepts.

Some of what is being called technology is not at all high-tech and has become mainstream for the average businessperson.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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