If you attended Real Estate Connect NYC in January, then you heard Joanna Lord speak, and if you were like me, you were blown away. She is totally on my “people to watch list” (which keeps getting longer after every Connect event!). She has been immersed in branding, marketing and tech startups over the past decade and is an inspiring speaker.

Lord gave us a lot of food for thought during her presentation, including the notion of “contributing to your ecosystem.” To me, this involves giving back and being a team player. The truth is, we all have a responsibility to contribute to our ecosystem, whether that is our community, our niche, our local real estate market or our industry.

The real estate industry needs to improve in so many ways — our ecosystem is having a major public relations fail and has been for years. (Perhaps this is why Brad Inman and the conversations he fosters on this platform resonate so strongly with me; we both want to make our ecosystem better.)

The very first day I got my real estate license, my neighbor said, “Oh no! Why are you becoming a Realtor?! Realtors are dirtbags!” I kid you not. It’s true — that is how we are perceived by many. But we have forums that allow us all to meet and share best practices, learn about new technology, network and contribute to new tactics we can use to fight this perception. We simply won’t be more successful as an industry unless we change that perception definitively. Don’t even get me started on the low barriers to entry in our business!

This year, I’ve committed to contributing to my ecosystem in these ways:

1. Delivering excellent customer service.

As a full-time, professional Realtor, I take my craft very seriously. I aim to deliver excellent service and make every encounter I have with clients an amazing one. I want to exceed all their expectations and make each transaction memorable. Over time, my hope is that the tide will shift and the sea of part-time, inexperienced real estate agents who don’t take their job seriously, don’t follow through and don’t deliver high-quality service will disappear so they can’t influence the reputation of the real estate industry.

2. Contributing to the conversation.

As an Inman contributor, I’ve decided to join the conversation online in between conferences. I penned my first piece last week, which highlighted the three major changes I made to my business after attending Real Estate Connect NYC. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone was going to read it. I did it mostly to recap my thoughts, and it was a little cathartic for me to share it publicly. The article posted in the morning, and by that afternoon, I was inundated with emails and messages from almost 30 agents across the country telling me about how my article inspired them and how it resonated with their current situations, and asking me for more details about the changes I implemented.

I was floored. I responded to each and every one of those emails individually, and by doing so, I really felt as though I was contributing to my ecosystem (#RealtorTribe), and it felt great. Who knew that by being transparent about my trials and tribulations I would be able to help others with theirs?

(Learn more about Inman’s contributor program by emailing contributors@inman.com.)

3. Improving my communities.

Lastly, looking beyond our industry, I’d like to help improve the communities in which I live in and serve as a Realtor. There are so many ways to do that; over the years, I’ve served on the board of my local Chamber, as an officer in my local Rotary club, volunteered in the PTA, helped at the local food bank and contributed in other ways.

These days, I find anything involving technology, community and real estate exciting — I was thrilled when I came across the amazing group of people at the Center for Creative Placemaking (CCP) at Bloomfield College in New Jersey. They have innovative ideas about how to merge various disciplines to improve communities. (Maybe we’ll see them at a future Real Estate Connect event?) After taking one of the center’s daylong courses, I gained a whole new perspective on how much power we as an industry have on molding and impacting our ecosystem — economically, artistically, culturally and technologically. The possibilities are endless.

How are you contributing to your ecosystem? Please share!

Caroline Gosselin heads The Gosselin Group at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in northern New Jersey.

Email Caroline Gosselin.

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