After all the talk about technology and the Internet ultimately removing the agent from the real estate transaction, little has really changed. Face-to-face relationships still trump every other lead generation strategy, and clients still choose their agent based on a trusted friend’s referral or the personal connection felt with a specific agent. What can you do to build better connections in today’s digital age?

  • Baby boomers and millennials have very different ideas of what makes a good relationship.
  • Gen Xers might be the best bridge between the two generations because they tend to understand them both.
  • Being present is the best thing you can do to build and strengthen relationships.

After all the talk about technology and the Internet ultimately removing the agent from the real estate transaction, little has really changed.

Face-to-face relationships still trump every other lead generation strategy, and clients still choose their agent based on a trusted friend’s referral or the personal connection felt with a specific agent. What can you do to build better connections in today’s digital age?

At the recent National Association of Realtors Conference and Expo, Seth Mattison, a work force strategist and trend spotter, shared his insights on how today’s digital agent can cultivate the successful personal relationships that lead to smoother transactions and more business.

The Internet is the great equalizer

A decade ago, people turned to experts to advise them on what they should do. Today the Internet has unleashed unprecedented access to information and made the power of the idea more important than the source from which it came.

An astute 14-year-old can garner just as much recognition as one of the world’s most well-known experts. Unlimited reach means that a person can go from being an unknown to hyper-famous overnight. Barriers to entry are lower than ever before, and today’s youth are no longer content to be seen and not heard.

Gen Xers — striding the generational divide

Mattison shared how the generational divide is playing out in today’s workplace. When baby boomers were surveyed about the five most important terms they believe would make for an ideal working relationship, the top five terms were:

  • Respectful
  • Professional
  • Thorough
  • Excellent follow-through
  • Formal

In contrast, millennials described their ideal working relationship as being:

  • Genuine
  • Accessible
  • Relatable
  • Informal
  • Dependable

The collision between boomers and millennials results from the boomers’ formal and professional approach as compared to the millennials’ informal approach.

Mattison argues that Gen X is the great translator between boomers and millennials. The words that Gen X uses to describe their ideal working relationship are:

  • Efficient
  • Smart
  • Adaptable
  • Honest
  • Transparent
  • Trustworthy

At age 20, they had viewed over 20,000 hours of TV and were the group that had been advertised to the most. Because they have been constantly targeted with ads, they are highly skeptical and have little use for sales pitches. They are also the unrecognized bridge that links the three generations together because they understand both boomers and millennials.

Gain influence through the art of asking the right questions

A title or degree is no longer what’s required to be influential in today’s digital environment. Instead, Mattison argues that a critical first step is being impeccable in your communication.

The quality of your communication is based upon the quality of your questions. Specifically, you must master the art of asking open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions begin with the words “how” and “what.” Avoid using “why” because it puts the other person on the defensive.

Mattison says that we have become incredibly lazy with the questions that we ask. A classic example is the most-asked question when people meet for the first time: “What do you do?”

In terms of building connection, this question is a nonstarter. The reason is that up to 70 percent of today’s workers are under-engaged in their work — it’s the last thing they want to talk about.

Mattison has found that one of the most-effective questions that you can ask is: “What do you like to do when you’re not working?” This question opens up what the person cares about most in their lives. It also helps you to provide better service because you have taken the time to discover what matters most to them.

Mattison suggests that you map out three or four open-ended questions prior to any important meeting. Your questions will help to drive the ultimate outcome of the conversation.

He also suggests that you use power probing, which allows you to go deeper and to add additional context and depth to the conversation. Three questions and statements that you can ask include:

  1. Tell me more about that. (This is a good statement when you don’t understand something or want to obtain more information.)
  1. What makes you feel that way?
  1. What gave rise to that opinion?

Be courageous

Being a real estate agent requires courage. Courage is the choice and the willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation head on.

Some great examples are price reductions, bad offers, stinky houses, commissions or the courage to ask for the business. Courage is like a muscle — the more you use it, the more it grows.

Mattison emphasizes that every touch point is an opportunity to strengthen your commitment to serve your clients and to advance the relationship. If you want to create an environment of accountability and high-quality relationships, the process always begins with you.

Mattison recommends that rather than trying to hold others to a higher standard, you begin by saying, “Here’s what you can expect from me.” And then follow through on it.

It takes courage to go first, and it also takes courage to hold others accountable for what they say or do. But you must be the one to take that critical first step.

Be here now

We are living in an age of distraction. Unfortunately, the people we love the most are often the ones we show up for the least. Mattison said he transformed his life when he became intentional about being present in the moment — physically, mentally and emotionally.

He spends the first 15 minutes of his morning in gratitude meditation and the next 15 minutes just moving his body. When he finds himself drifting out of the moment, he uses the mantra “be here now” to snap him back to the present moment.

In addition to his mantra, Mattison shared four guiding principles that he learned from his grandfather:

  1. Love people
  2. Serve people
  3. Add value
  4. Have fun

What a wonderful strategy from the past that is just as relevant today as it was decades ago.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent

Email Bernice Ross.

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