There’s a common characteristic I have observed among Realtors for the last 30 years I’ve been in the business. The thinking is, "Unless you’ve done my job, you can’t possibly know how to help me with my business."

About a year ago, I had a spirited discussion with Chris Smith, the "chief evangelist" for Inman News. It had to do with baby boomers (me) commenting on Gen X and Gen Y in terms of how they approach the real estate transaction, and also what’s needed for them to succeed as Realtors.

Chris’s position was, "You’re not part of this generation, so how can you comment on it?"

I shot back, "You have never sold a piece of real estate, so how can you advise agents about what to do in their businesses?"

Both points of view are misguided.

An agent can be an expert negotiator but may have no idea about how to increase his or her business using the social media. While the agent could turn to another agent for advice, an even better model would be to look at how Chris Smith or Jimmy Mackin have built large followings on the social media. The principles they use cut across numerous industries, not just real estate.

Even though neither has sold real estate, plenty of "expert" Realtors look to them as resources who can help them with their businesses. Because both Mackin and Smith are in constant conversation on and offline with Realtors as to what is working and what is not, this puts them in a position to share the wisdom they discover. They don’t have to necessarily be the source — they just need to be the conduit.

In other words, just because you have never done a job doesn’t mean that you cannot make a meaningful contribution to someone else whose job is quite different from yours.

To illustrate this point, about two years ago, I was hired to help a client who ran an insurance business. He wanted to change his branding as well as to increase his conversion rates for his sales team. The same principles that work in terms of how Realtors can brand their websites and generate leads online, applied to his insurance business. We worked together for about four months and the changes he made increased his conversions by over 50 percent.

Dump the gurus, listen to the newbies

A major discussion thread among real estate coaches revolves around the need to maintain "beginner’s mind" once you have achieved mastery as a coach, or in any business. Even when you have become an expert, to continue to grow and learn, you must always approach what you do with the eyes of beginner.

I’ve taught new agent training classes since 1989. The great thing about new agents is that they see new opportunities. For example, I conducted a seminar recently where a new agent shared an original idea called "open house with a difference."

The agent found a way to marry charitable fund raising to marketing his listings through open house. For anyone who attended his open house, he made a contribution in that person’s name to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

This enabled him to gather valid contact information for everyone who attended. Furthermore, Make a Wish notified each person who attended with a letter thanking them for the contribution the agent made on their behalf. This was a win-win for all involved.

A lesson from mega-producers

There’s one trait that virtually all top producers share — they are constantly in search of new learning and new ways to grow their businesses. They regularly attend seminars, listen to motivational CDs, read, and seek out new and different ways to grow their businesses.

In fact, a common lament from companies who hold seminars for their agents is, "All my top producers were sitting in the first three rows. The people who really needed this didn’t even bother to show up."

Use peer-to-peer information

Ultimately, the information that agents deem to be the most valuable is peer-to-peer. A guru or expert can tell the agents what they should do. The agents, however, will be more likely to engage in an activity that has been proven effective by another agent.

If you want grow beyond where you are now in your real estate business, search outside the real estate industry. For example, an experienced videographer could give you tips on how to take better quick videos with your smart phone. Your technology group could help you figure out what to do when your blog goes wonky or your computer goes on the fritz. A technique that helps your friend raise money for her non-profit could help you generate more leads for your business.

So here’s the bottom line. If you think the only person who can help you grow your business is another Realtor, take off your blinders. Look to other businesses, people who have different perspectives as well as different backgrounds. Finally, always remember to keep that "beginner’s mindset" that create the edge you need to stay competitive in your business.

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