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When shutdowns first began in March 2020, many of us thought that we would be spending a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two, dealing with some inconveniences and minor frustrations. Then we would return to a more-or-less normal, if somewhat delayed, spring market.
Now, more than a year on, as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, many folks are still looking forward to moving ahead without really taking the time to stop and recognize the cultural and historical moment we’ve just experienced together. How we manage the upcoming shifts will determine how we manage the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses and organizations.
It’s important to recognize that we are in a moment of transition and that the things that have happened over the past year are now part of a new reality. Below are suggested stages to implement into the planning for your reopening, both operationally and through your advertising. Why? Because now you have an opportunity to build an even stronger foundation for whatever comes next.
While we’ve all heard the success stories that have emerged from these difficult times, many agents are in the midst or the aftermath of painful, emotional experiences. As a brokerage leader, you’ve got to navigate these waters. Leading people within your organization who have lost loved ones, lost relationships and marriages, or lost their dreams is all too common.
Acknowledging these facts while remaining optimistic and positive is an important first step. Now is a time to ask yourself: How can you chime in to others on your team, communicate with them and build human connection at a whole new level? That’s going to drive motivation, performance and results.
The people you lead are your brand ambassadors. You’re making a difference moment by moment by the way you treat them. After all, we are social beings. We want to feel a connection and know that someone has our back. That’s branding at a whole new level.
As a global community, we are feeling the unsettling energy in the air, yet everyone is experiencing it in a different way — having to face their own needs, dealing with the needs of children or elderly family members over an extended period of time, all while under increasing pressures at work. This, among so many other things, can be challenging, to say the least.
As we relate that to branding and connecting through storytelling (because you are your brand, and nobody is looking for content for the sake of content), ask yourself: How are you bringing out your story so it connects with people in an authentic way?
The need for authentic connection reaches across industries. As you represent your brand as a real estate professional, how much of what you’re doing is your true and authentic brand? What part of your story are you covering up in a market that is frenzied and extremely stressful?
Finding ways to authentically open up gives you an opportunity to truly connect with your audience while dealing with the realities of your life and business.
While it may feel more comfortable to cover up the reality of what we are going through, we can’t pretend that everything is wonderful and back to normal. A new level of transparency is long overdue.
A level of resilience, one that helps us move forward day by day, is required to come out stronger from such a life- and business-altering experience as the past year has been.
Being transparent and developing a brand that recognizes what we have all been through is the way to lead into a future we can only try to predict. Instead of covering up reality, find ways to connect at a whole new level with the people you’re looking to serve. That makes you relevant, relatable, and trustworthy to potential clients and team members.
Opportunity or threat?
Living and doing business based on these principles, allows us to develop brand equity that’s not visible on the balance sheet. Forget about focusing on what everyone else is doing. Decide if this situation is an opportunity or threat for you and your organization.
Based on my experience, it’s a much better use of your energy to tune into your own brand and make it deeper, more experiential and more emotional. Remember, your brand is bigger than what the eye can see.
Marion Weiler is a senior business management executive, leadership & business consultant and president at Weiler International LLC, advising brokerage executive teams and real estate professionals during times of business growth as well as crisis. Connect with Marion on Linkedin.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.