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As far back as my UCLA days, I understood that my personal image was a brand — a brand that consisted of a popped Polo collar, carefree jock and frat boy who lived beyond his means by dining at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge while other guys my age went to dinner at Fat Burger or the local pizza joint.
My childish ways of living beyond my means and caring too much about my waist size and tan was almost 40 years ago. But to this day, like a branded cow, some of my college buddies still painfully remind me of that image. It just goes to show that how we physically present ourselves creates a lasting impression.
In today’s world, we hear a lot about the importance of our branding — but what do we specifically mean when we say our “personal brand image?” Does our personal brand image help or hurt us when our clients look at the options available to them?
A personal brand image is a combination of who you are (your character and personality), how you present yourself (your physical image) and those you associate with (the brokerage you work for). The shallowness and importance of a first impression in the real estate industry is undeniable — and that impression transfers into trust, sustainability, and most important to us, referrals.
Here are the three most important factors that make up your personal brand image. Do your best to perfect these, and your image will be one you’re proud of, one that attracts quality clients, one that shows people the real you.
1. Your character and personality
One of the best definitions of personality and character (in business) I’ve heard goes like this: “Personality is the temperament and traits you were born with, and character is your ability to manage your temperament and traits when stressed.”
In personal brand image management, this means being aware of how your personality — your smile, eye contact, body language — presents itself in first impressions, as well as how you manage the stressful moments and transactions of your daily business. In other words, this means that if by nature your personality prompts you to be angry about something, your character will override that anger and be the fuel, or the break, that determines how your anger will manifest itself
2. Your physical image
Marilyn Monroe once said, “I don’t mind making jokes, but I never want to look like one.” She of all people knew the connection between your personal image and success.
I realize that in the sensitive climate we now live in, we don’t like to think that we are judged by our appearance, but the fact of the matter is that we are. In our business, the way we look can reflect the type of homes we sell, the level of professionalism we have and the quality of our business practices.
When it comes to image brand management, it is your responsibility to examine your physical image and determine what message your brand is communicating about you.
3. Your associations
As a real estate agent, whom you associate with professionally is as important as the clothing you wear to work. Is your image a reflection of the company, or are you your own brand within the company? The answer needs to be: both.
When I had my reality show on Bravo (I realize that the term “reality show” is an oxymoron), I made sure that my role was one that was congruent to my brand and who I am.
As our industry continues to evolve itself into a tech-forward, AI-driven, discount brokerage industry, our “human element” will become a more valuable commodity. Part of that human element is to become fully aware of who you are in business and make sure our clients have a reason to retain us for all their real estate transactions.
It’s also imperative to consider whether you need assistance in “managing your image” to ensure you are communicating what you intend to. This could range from hiring an agency to help construct your online presence — which can include your social media — to hiring a wardrobe consultant to help you dress for success, as the saying goes.
At the end of the day, we may not want people to judge a book by its cover, but they often do.