11 tech tools for a better business

Network with clients, market listings in a whole new way

The Real Estate Connect conference last month in San Francisco was packed with great new business tips as well as exciting new technologies that will rock your real estate world.

Of all the Real Estate Connect conferences I have attended, the most recent conference had more useful technologies and action tips than any other in the past.

Past conflicts between the tech companies and the practitioners appear to have finally morphed from fear and distrust into an eagerness about discovering new tools that will help brokerages earn more money, increase efficiency and provide consumers with a stellar experience.

Below is a list of cool websites to check out that can help you be more effective at running your business.

1. Create a website on the fly at no charge
You have a website that focuses on the general area where you work. You want to create a new website that focuses on a specific condominium building or a market niche such as waterfront properties. You also have no budget.

You can now create multiple websites devoted to hyperlocal (narrow niche) content with Weebly.com. Just pick out the template and the colors you like, put in the text, register the URL, and you’re ready to go. Best of all, there’s no charge!

2. Save your name
Checkusernames.com checks 160 other sites such as Active Rain, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube to see if your username is available on those sites. When you enter your name, the site displays those sites where your user name is still available.

To protect your online identity, register your name, especially on the major sites, even if you don’t use those accounts. A similar service is available from Namechk.com, which checks 149 different sites.

3. Use e-mail addresses to find social media connections
This is a terrific tool. Oftentimes the only information that you have for a lead is an e-mail address. Using an individual’s e-mail address, Flowtown.com can show you all the different social networks your customers are on, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and more. Flowtown is a great resource for extending your reach using social media.

4. Everyblock.com
This is a great resource for finding specific information on crime, local issues and schools. Everyblock.com covers many large cities and displays local crime statistics, business postings, and online reviews from places such as Yelp.com, all based upon what’s happening near a specific geographical location.

5. Add hyperlocal news to your website or blog
A major trend right now is going "hyperlocal." You can now do this easily with a site called Topix.com that provides you with a feed of the local news in your community. This is a great tool when you need local content for your blog or website. Merely log into the site and it will display nearby news.

To use it on your blog, simply do a one- or two-sentence summary of the articles that caught your eye and link to them. You can also use these links on Twitter or Facebook.

6. Need a new logo for your business?
If you have ever paid a designer to create a logo for your business, you know it can be pricey. Worst of all, you may not like what the person designs. You can now circumvent this issue through a site called LogoTournament.com.

This site allows you to bid how much you would like to pay for your logo, with bids starting at $250. Logotournament.com guarantees you will get at least 30 choices or the company will refund your money. Designers post their designs and you select a winner. You own the artwork and best of all, there’s no surprises about what you’re getting.

7. Glympse.com
Glympse.com is a fun, useful application that works with most smart phones and with Facebook. The "Glympse Watcher" allows you to share your location with another person for a limited amount of time. Using your phone’s GPS, the system tracks where you are. It also displays the route you’re taking to reach your destination, plus how long it will take you to arrive.

8. Picnik.com
If you don’t have a photo-editing program on your computer, Picnik.com allows you to edit images at no charge. It’s an easy way to display your photos so they look as good as possible. You can easily edit out pesky little nuisances such as wrinkles, bags and breakouts with a few simple strokes.

9. Don’t get caught speeding
For those of you who regularly exceed the speed limit, there’s an app called Trapster that shows you where the speed traps are. This is a community-based application where users report speed traps when they see them. Once a speed trap is noted, Trapster notifies other users as they approach the location. While it may not help you avoid every speed trap, it may save you from an unwanted ticket.

10. Take a hike
Do you work in an area where there are nature or hiking trails? If so, Goby.com allows you to see hiking trails. This is a great addition for your listing information that focuses on lifestyle, not just the typical bedroom and bath count.

11. Get the edge when you travel
Have you ever spent hours waiting for a relocation client or a loved one at the airport? Have you been stuck without a taxi and didn’t want to wait 10 minutes while your phone slowly searched Google for a local taxi service? If so, Tripit is an application that allows you to see if a plane is running late, often well ahead of when it’s announced at the airport.

This gives you an edge on getting on an alternate flight when there is an issue. Also, Taximagic uses the GPS in your phone to bring up taxicab numbers closest to where you are located.

Need even more tech tips? Check out Thursday’s article.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the NAR #1 Best Seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named "new and notable" by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com. You can contact her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com or @BRoss on Twitter.

Contact Bernice Ross:
Twitter E-mail Letter to the Editor