In real estate, showcasing your professionalism is how you get business. It’s how you convince buyers and sellers to work with you over the plethora of other agents out there. What can you do to exhibit competence and display your skillset to past and future clients? Here are five pro moves that’ll set you apart from the rest of the pack.

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In real estate, our goal is always showcasing professionalism. On a most basic level, that means exhibiting the competence or skill that is expected of knowledgeable, experienced individuals in this space.

It sounds straightforward enough, but to be honest, there are days that I wish it were more difficult to get a real estate license and that the barrier for entry were higher.

If that were the case, the level of dedication of those who pursue this industry would increase or at least be more consistent. The industry standard and public perception would be, more universally, one of excellence.

Because this isn’t so, we sometimes suffer from a perception problem. A Gallup poll from 2016 show that less than half of Americans (44 percent) view the real estate industry positively. When asked how one would rate the honesty and ethical standards of people in the field, 54 percent of those polled said “average.”

So how can you counter this and improve public perception as a real estate agent? What are some activities you can do to exhibit competence in your market to display your skillset to past and future clients?

Here’s my top five list of pro moves that will showcase your professionalism and set you apart from the rest of the pack.

1. Be the expert

First of all, consider expertise. Think of someone you consider to be an expert in their industry. What expectations do you have that qualify them in your mind as an “expert”?  

They probably have taken some stance as an authority with a point of view and distinct voice on a specific topic. As real estate agents, we tend to try to be all things for all people, which can get in the way of showcasing our unique skillsets to clients who actually need it.

Pick one thing, and be really good at it. Pick something that you are either already having success in or that really lights your fire.

For example, if you are really good at communicating with the baby boomer generation, focus on helping people who are downsizing transition to their next phase of life.

Or maybe you have a connection in the new construction field and have been successful there. You could create a top 10 list of things to consider when building a new home, then distribute throughout the community.

Does working with first-time homebuyers really fire you up? Then partner with a local lender, and host monthly seminars for that market segment.

In addition to hosting seminars, you can showcase your professionalism by establishing yourself as a thought leader in your specialized space, writing articles and creating resources like workbooks, fliers and how-to guides.

You can also become the go-to real estate industry expert to your local media by providing them with story ideas and market analyses that are relevant and intriguing to their audience.

Be sure that all your social media and other outlets communicate and reflect that you are an expert in your niche. Create public groups about your area of expertise.

Your target audience will be attracted to them because you are creating content and sparking meaningful conversation around that specific area. Before you know it, you will be the expert agent everyone turns to.

2. Pick up designations, and continue your education

If you want to be an expert in a specific area, you need to go all in and be the best you can be.  

A well-chosen designation will showcase your commitment to excellence and dedication as a professional.

Back to my baby boomer specialized agent example, getting NAR’s Senior Real Estate Specialist designation (SRES) would be a good investment of time and finances.

If you are working in a market where sustainability is important, the Green Designation (GREEN) might help you stand out in your marketplace and display your professionalism.

For a complete list of NAR’s designations and certifications, click here.

Continuing education can catapult you to expert status quickly. Learning from trainers who are already experts in that area and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can only further your career and display your professionalism to clients.

Set some time aside every year for professional development efforts so that you can constantly improve your skillset. Share a picture of you sitting in class, post to social media and show your clients how dedicated you are to being the best real estate expert for them.

3. Participate in committees and boards

Being a member of a committee or board can be a huge asset to showcasing your professionalism, or it could also be a complete waste of your time.

Be selective with what committees and boards you choose to participate in. And be honest with yourself: Does the mission and goal of the committee interest you, or are you bored stiff at all the meetings?

Because your goal is displaying professionalism, ask yourself whether the board in question directly correlates with your area of your expertise. When choosing to participate in committees and boards, make sure you have a healthy balance of interest, potential for contribution and opportunity to display your expertise and professionalism.

4. Cultivate ethics, leadership and character

You just can’t wing it here, my friend. If your expressed commitment to ethics isn’t genuine or your character true, the marketplace will chew you up and spit you out.

This is an unspoken expectation for any professional, but because it tends to be assumed and sometimes taken for granted, it too often goes unmentioned in articles like these.

Whether you excel in ethics, leadership and character or they are areas in which you need to improve, it is very important that you take some time to grow in these areas.

In addition to continuing education in your industry, look for classes, seminars and books that help you further develop these qualities.

These traits are prerequisites for a professional in the public’s mind, so they must be a priority. Here’s a list of my favorite books on the subject that inspire me, and that I refer to often:

5. Rest and retreat

I know what you are thinking. How did rest get on a top five list of tips for professionalism? Please hear me out because I feel that it might actually be the most important of all.

Let me ask you a question: Who do you see taking every lead that comes their way no matter what time of day and no matter what they are doing: the rookie or the expert/professional?

Who is pulling 80-hour weeks, and who is working 30? Who is golfing on the weekends, and who is playing caddy to make a few extra bucks?

Do you see how your perception of rest and retreat correlates to your perception of a professional? The truth is that rest and retreat are highly valued among professionals.  

Rest allows a professional to create and innovate in their business in ways they cannot when they are burning the candle at both ends.

Albert Einstein said, “I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.” If one of the greatest minds of our time needed rest, is it too far-fetched to think the rest of us might need it from time to time as well?

So there you have it. You are well on your way to showcasing your professionalism to your marketplace.

I hope you have been inspired to think differently about how you go about this task, and I would love to hear the ways you implement these ideas.

Alissa Gardner is the owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Corridor in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Connect with her on Facebook.

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