Being a real estate agent doesn’t have to be about capturing thousands of leads on the Internet so that we can convert a small percentage of them into customers.

That just doesn’t sound like fun for me, and I don’t know of anyone who wants to be a lead. I don’t have to be in the lead capture business to have business.

I don’t capture “leads.” I constantly look for business opportunities through people I know, and from the strangers I write to on my real estate blog.

The strangers who find me on the Internet capture me. Before I know it, I am responding to their emails, phone calls and text messages. I may even miss dinner as I get swept into their search for a home or home sale.

I love the variety of work that comes my way as a real estate agent, and the wonderful people I meet. The best days are the days when I can help someone.

Sometimes I think we lose touch with what our jobs are really about. After a recent closing when I asked my clients what they thought about my services, I got an unexpected compliment. The sellers said, “You always made us feel like we were your only clients.”

They happened to see a “sold” sign on one of my listings that was just a couple of blocks away from their home. Only then did it occur to them that I probably have other clients.

I try to keep it simple, tune out the noise, and stay focused on my clients. I never have to worry about being replaced by a website or an app, or about having my services confused with the information provided online.

Most of the complaints people have about real estate agents have to do with lead capture behavior.

Like the agent at the open house who tries to sell the buyer another house, or the agent advertising on the third-party website who knows nothing about the property her face is next to. The only reason she comes up as an “expert” is because she paid for a ZIP code or a neighborhood — maybe one that was not even her first choice.

It’s only the people who work in the real estate industry who think it’s all about corporations, franchises, websites, apps, brands and technology. The people I work with are so focused on buying or selling property that all they seem to care about is finding an agent who knows what she is doing.

To sell real estate, I don’t need a fancy, expensive office that most of my clients will never see or use. Being a member of a collaborative office space and using coffee shops around the metro area as temporary meeting places works just fine.

Big real estate companies and teams of agents work with each client individually. They don’t sell the homes they list any faster, or for any more money, than a single agent can sell them for. But if they do it right, some team members will make a lot of money.

Sometimes it’s better for agents to work on a team or through a big brand, and for some business is built on thousands of Internet leads. But that doesn’t always translate to a better experience for our customers, especially when we call them leads and treat them like numbers.

My job is simple, and my business thrives when I keep my focus on the customer and do my best to make each one feel as though they are my only clients.

It could be far more complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. My clients are always there to remind me that it is about them, and that if I am to succeed, my most important job is to take care of them.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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