Last weekend I attended an event designed to teach people how to be good at meeting people and dating. I was the official photographer, which is the same as being the official observer.
There are some similarities between online dating and online marketing, and some of the tips the daters got for interacting with total strangers on a first date work for meeting buyers or sellers for the first time.
One thing that I learned quickly is that most people are uncomfortable meeting total strangers and having a conversation. I wish I could relate, but I cannot.
It is something that I need to keep in mind when I meet my clients for the first time. My entire work life is centered around meeting total strangers and being comfortable in any situation. There are so many parallels between dating and being a real estate agent.
During the formal part of the program the instructor stated that confidence is sexy. Confidence is sexy in the world of dating and magical when meeting with prospective real estate clients.
Confidence is a must on a listing appointment and it is part of what helps us feel comfortable with those total strangers we meet. Daters were also encouraged to be themselves and to be real. I have seen the same advice given to salespeople.
The presenter talked about smiling and projecting energy and being positive. Energy is a good thing on a date and in a business appointment as is a positive attitude.
I found the discussion about online dating profiles to be the most interesting. Dating is like real estate in that it has gone online.
Daters were encouraged to go beyond the name, rank and serial number stuff and to write something different about themselves so that they stand out.
They were also encouraged not to be boring, and talking about work all the time is considered boring — like the agent who tweets only about real estate or talks about it incessantly.
Just like in real estate, where there are 2 zillion of us and we have to distinguish ourselves in the marketplace. It isn’t easy to stand out from the herd, but that is what we must do if we want to be noticed.
I do a terrible job with my profiles and have started reading advice from the top online dating sites to get some fresh ideas. I am even considering whether to hire a professional profile writer.
Agent profiles list their areas and specialties, and that they are "No. 1" and provide the best customer service or "customer experience," as it is now called. We "take the stress out of buying and selling," and we use "all the latest technology." It is like we all use the same boilerplate but personalize it with a name and logo.
Daters were encouraged to check the spelling or have a friend proofread it. Typos are a turnoff for some, and grammatical errors can make people seem less educated or intelligent than they are.
I have asked people who use online dating services what they look for in a profile so that I can use some of the same ideas. They look for real information and for honesty.
Having a current photo is important. If a person appears at all dishonest in an online dating profile they will not be contacted. It is the same for real estate agent profiles. The word "trust" seems to trigger a lot of distrust. So does the word "honest." Trust me on this.
The daters were encouraged to listen and to not spend too much time talking about themselves. That is so basic when talking to clients. We need to listen as hard as we can. How often have we heard about the buyer’s agent who just didn’t listen?
We all know that we get only one chance to make a great first impression, be it in person or online. It isn’t a bad idea to review our own presence now and then, and to look around for the best practices and imitate them.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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