Editor’s note: The following is a guest perspective by Geoff Cramer, a former real estate agent and CEO and co-founder of SocialMadeSimple.
By GEOFF CRAMER
I’ve been speaking about social network marketing over the past few months at a number of real estate technology events across the country.
There’s one constant that stands out at these events: At the end there seems to be a large number of people who are simply overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information they’ve received from the speakers, experts and presenters.
And, it’s not just overwhelmed, but it actually appears to be a general morose sense of dread, helplessness and fear that these professionals feel when they realize that they don’t have the technological skills, experience or bandwidth to implement what they’ve learned.
These are busy real estate agents who took time out of their busy lives (and spent good money in most cases), to learn where their business is headed, only to leave more discouraged and often no better off than when they arrived.
Perhaps you sat in on Tech Savvy Agent’s "30 Best Mobile Apps for Real Estate" recent talk at an Agent Reboot event, only to realize most of the apps mentioned run only on an iPhone or Android device.
Perhaps you stealthily slid that new BlackBerry — which you were so proud of just a few days before — into your pocket, hoping that no one saw it, and wondered, "What is that guy doing here?"
Maybe you wanted to learn how to use Facebook to connect with your sphere of influence, only to hear that not only do you need a separate Facebook page and account, but also a Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube account.
And this doesn’t even include the dozens of tools to merge, sync and mesh these accounts together — once you figure out what each one of them is, of course! Nor does it take into account all the different opinions from everyone on stage telling you how to best use of each of them.
Interested in starting a blog? Well, you were. That was before you heard that in order to have a top-notch blog you first need to use the WordPress (".org," not ".com") platform, hosted on your own site, with 15 different plug-ins, and search-engine-optimized — all just to start thinking about your hyperlocal content campaign with integration to the aforementioned social networking sites and MLS-IDX (multiple listing service-Internet Data Exchange) integration with lead capture.
And by the way, what in heaven’s name is a "tag cloud," anyway?
All of that before the lunch break.
Congratulations if all of the above made perfect sense to you. You’ve earned the title "extremely tech-savvy agent" and are on your way to using technology to build a very successful career in real estate.
But, if all of the above made you a bit sick-to-your-stomach, gave you a headache, caused your vision to go blurry, and gave you the sudden urge to curl up in a ball, don’t worry — there is an easy, five-step guide to overcoming the real estate tech conference blues:
Step 1: Go in with a goal. Why are you attending this event? Ask yourself before you get there, and make sure to remember your goal throughout the conference. Of course, you can, will and should learn about other things, but if your goal was to learn how to get a blog up and running, don’t let QR codes (2D mobile bar codes) and mobile applications overwhelm you and take you off task.
Step 2: Take some notes, but not too many. Lots of people find themselves furiously trying to take down every idea, tip and thought as speakers pour their insight into the crowd.
Taking notes like that often keeps you from really absorbing the message behind the presentation, and when you get back to your office, all you’ll have is a long, incoherent list of links, websites and sayings and you won’t remember how they all fit together.
Instead, listen to the speakers, taking down only the most important tools or thoughts. Find out if their slides will be available after the show, which will save you lots of writing. The message and theory behind these presentations are often the most important part.
Step 3: Come up with a plan you can follow. One of the biggest mistakes people make (including me, back in the day) is that once back in the office, our heads are so full of great ideas we try to implement them all right away.
This leads to starting a whole bunch of projects, with none of them being finished.
It typically goes something like this: You get a new listing, a buyer comes into town, you’re preparing for a closing, and suddenly it’s six months later and nothing has been accomplished. The first day after a conference, put all your great ideas and inspirations into a plan. Start with the easiest one and finish it before moving on to the next one.
Maybe you’ve decided its time to start a blog and a Facebook page. Don’t do both. Start with one, get it up and running, get comfortable managing it consistently, and then start the next one.
Trust me, any time lost doing one at a time is nothing compared to never properly implementing any of your tasks.
Step 4: Use tools that make it easier to get started. Look for tools that are not overly complicated or designed specifically for "power users" of these technologies. There are plenty of tools out there to help you use technology to market yourself. The right tools can help you immensely, and the wrong ones can make a complicated task even harder at the beginning.
Step 5: Take a step back and breathe.This isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. The first person to adopt and embrace these technologies isn’t necessarily the person who sells the most houses.
It’s the person who does it correctly with an understanding of the methods, their goals, and a respect for the people with whom they are connecting. Take a step back and a deep breath before you fall into the black hole of techno-babble, and choose one thing to implement next.
Before long, you may find yourself up on stage, telling a conference all about the next great thing — and maybe even overwhelming a whole new group of people.
Geoff Cramer is the CEO and co-founder of SocialMadeSimple, a social network marketing platform designed for real estate and mortgage professionals. Geoff is a former real estate agent and former vice presidentt of sales, recruiting and technology at Century 21, The Howard Group, a residential real estate office in the Greater Boston area. Follow Geoff on Twitter, and/or become a fan of SocialMadeSimple on Facebook.