Real estate is my second or third career, and there is no way of knowing if it will be my last.
After working for more than a decade in the industry, there are things that I don’t understand about the culture, and why there is so much emphasis on interacting and networking with other real estate agents.
Most of us are independent contractors, and real estate offices are generally not teams in the truest sense of the word. We don’t work together directly.
Agent networking and socializing is an important part of my life, but no more important than socializing and networking with other business people and with friends.
Where do agents find the time to go to so many social events? There are so many social events and happy hours for Realtors.
Our associations encourage volunteerism, but the emphasis is volunteering for committees within our association, which means we are working with other Realtors.
There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in the community. There are nonprofits run by volunteer boards of directors, and all sorts of programs that need volunteer help and money.
It seems to me that if associations served as a resource to the community for finding community volunteers, we would be doing more to promote the idea that Realtors are held to a higher standard and that we are knowledgeable and talented and have leadership ability.
The educational opportunities we get within the industry are designed so that the person who is the farthest behind and knows the least will benefit. We rarely go beyond the “beginners” level in anything.
Going outside of the industry for some or even most of our training and education just makes sense, and it gives us the opportunity to learn new things and to network with people who are not real estate agents.
Guest lecturing at a local university or leading a session at a local BarCamp or unconference is a great way of putting ourselves in front of potential clients while giving back to the community.
Attending a free seminar, a WordCamp or BarCamp is a great way to learn new things and to meet people.
Often when I go to an educational or networking event in the community I am the only agent in the room, which always surprises me because there are so many of us. I suppose my peers don’t understand why I miss so many Realtor happy hours.
Real estate agents can spend hours in conversations in Facebook groups discussing issues with our peers, or we can be a volunteer moderator for a neighborhood group. Most agents choose the former.
On Twitter or Facebook we can all follow each other or we can follow people in our communities and interact with them and even get to know them.
Why have lunch or coffee with a real estate agent when we can hang out with people in other industries and learn from them as we share with them? Isn’t that better for everyone?
Some real estate agents prefer to get technical support from other real estate agents. Often correct answers to the questions they ask of each other can be easily found on the Internet.
Real estate agents use most of the same hardware and software everyone else uses. Why would a real estate agent rely on other agents, instead of experts, for quick free technical support?
During my life as a real estate agent, I have found value both personally and professionally in volunteering in my community outside of the association, socializing with people who are not Realtors, and taking advantage of educational events that are aimed at business people.
From a business point of view it is important to spend time networking with other agents, but not as much time as we need to spend in the company of people who do not have real estate licenses.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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