Although it was once popular to put your face on a bus bench, times have changed — and while this form of advertising still prevails in certain markets, most busy professionals care little about cheesy headshots and bus bench ads.

Although it was once popular to put your face on a bus bench, times have changed — and while this form of advertising still prevails in certain markets, most busy professionals care little about cheesy headshots and bus bench ads.

One thing they do care about, however, is giving back, which was one of the main talking points on the final day of Inman Disconnect in Palm Springs, California, where attendees came up with a set of 12 actionable principles — called The Parker Principles — that would solidify our commitment to enact change for the real estate industry, consumers and one another.

Parker Principle 11 focuses on selflessly giving back to the world through service — recognizing the importance of building service into our companies, organizations and our brand to authentically give back to the world beyond our own community.

So how can you, as a real estate professional, give back in a way that’s beneficial to your business and actually makes a real difference in the world? It’s much easier said than done, but by following a few key tips, you can start selflessly contributing to the global community while growing your client base.

1. Don’t always make it about housing

Working in real estate doesn’t mean you have to support a housing-related issue — you can back any social cause that’s meaningful to you or your niche target client.

If your client base consists mainly of medical professionals, you might consider supporting medical missions abroad. If you’d really like to focus on housing, you could partner with an organization that builds shelters for people living in unimaginable slums around the world.

Broaden your perspective a little, and don’t just constrain yourself to housing issues.

2. Be genuine

If you’re taking on a charitable endeavor as part of your business, it has to be meaningful to you, otherwise people will see it as another marketing tactic.

Supporting an organization that builds homes in developing countries is great — but are you doing it just because you’re in the real estate business, or are you doing it because it’s a cause you’re genuinely passionate about?

Think of a significant experience you had in your life, and figure out how it relates to a charitable endeavor you can support. For example, if you wear glasses and value education, you can talk about your difficulties focusing in school every time your prescription changed and support providing low cost glasses to children in need.

3. Focus on helping one person at a time

There is no shortage of amazing charitable organizations that do remarkable work around the world. That’s why it can be hard to decide where to direct your altruistic energy.

There’s housing, poverty, healthcare, education and endless other endeavors that want your support. Which will you rally behind?

Focus on partnering with organizations that help just one person each time you donate. This makes your contribution more meaningful and transparent. For example, by sponsoring one girl’s education, you put a name and a face to the cause you’re supporting. Not only that, but you’re also helping a greater cause since education for girls is a key to eradicating poverty.

4. Make your cause known

Having a short blurb about your initiative on your website doesn’t do much for your brand. It’s important to effectively communicate your endeavors to your clients. Doing so will fuel your business so you can help even more people.

For example, if you believe in supporting entrepreneurship, you could partner with Kiva to give business owners access to financing in underdeveloped countries.

And each time you donate time, money or other resources to your cause, post a quick update about it on social media. This gives you a wider variety of content to write about — after all, no one wants to read another boring, overused “just sold” post.

If you distribute a monthly newsletter, take advantage of the opportunity to write about how many people you’ve actually helped, rather than how many deals you closed.

5. Shift your focus

If you want to incorporate a truly impactful giving model into your real estate business, you must shift your focus away from sales numbers. Instead, zero in on the people you’ve helped.

For example, if providing people with access to clean water is a meaningful endeavor to you, you could support charity: water and focus on increasing the number of wells you build each year, rather than just your sales figures. 

Between global sustainable living initiatives and the enormous success of Toms shoes, there’s a clear trend for consumers favoring businesses that work to make the world better place.

The key to making giving back a success ultimately comes down to doing it for the right reason: helping others. By properly incorporating these methods into your business model, you can attract more clients while increasingly making the world better, one client at a time.

Whether you’re a new agent or a 30-year veteran broker, you can take your real estate business to new heights by making a genuine difference in the world.

Shayan Jalali is a Luxury Sales Associate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Boston. You can follow him on LinkedIn.

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