What does good leadership look like in 2022? How can you put your best foot forward where you work, whether you’re managing a team or an entire company? In March, we’ll plumb the topic through Q&As from top-tier industry leaders, contributions from Inman columnists (the leaders in their field) and more. Then we’ll keep the leadership conversation going in person at Inman Disconnect in late March in Palm Springs, California.
Real estate agents have to deal with a lot of people — and all kinds of people — on a day-to-day basis.
And, unfortunately, the agent is often characterized as a showy salesperson with a big personality; someone who can draw all eyes in the room and feeds off of other people’s energy.
But the reality is, not all real estate agents have those big personalities, and there’s no real estate textbook anywhere that says in order to be a successful agent, one must be a social butterfly. In fact, there are plenty of successful introverted real estate agents who have done well for themselves and their clients.
The categorizations of introvert and extrovert were first popularized in the work of the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the early 20th century, but misconceptions about their definitions still persist today.
People often assume introverts are very quiet or shy, but that’s not necessarily the case — they’re typically drained by social interaction and being around a lot of people, tend to be introspective, have small groups of friends, enjoy solitude and are sometimes viewed by others as hard to get to know, according to online mental health resource Verywell Mind.
Extroverts, on the other hand, are energized by social situations, like to share their thoughts and feelings, enjoy working in groups and are typically viewed as outgoing.
Introverted agents, therefore, might seem just as friendly as the next extroverted agent who comes along, but they could also become more tired out following an appointment and might need to take some extra steps to be sure their day stays on track.
Inman recently spoke with some introverted agents who shared their top tips for success this spring in real estate. Here’s what they recommend.
Focus on your strengths
Being extroverted, full of energy and fun to be around aren’t the primary qualities that make someone a good agent. You’re likely in real estate for a good reason — when you interact with clients and others, let your skills shine.
“Identify your biggest strengths as an agent and focus exclusively on those,” DJ Olhausen of Realty ONE Group Pacific in San Diego told Inman in an email. “While you may not be the life of the party, perhaps you have an analytical mind that lends itself to listing and selling homes. Use the advantages that make you unique to differentiate yourself from the average agent.”
“I focus my business development activities around tasks that will attract my ideal clientele,” Nicole Beauchamp, a New York City-based agent with Engel & Völkers, told Inman. “I also have leaned into the things I enjoy doing, and [am] prepared at a moment’s notice to discuss any relevant market statistics if and when the topic of real estate comes up.”
A set of solid real estate skills is the most important thing for agents to focus on, and if those skills are apparent to a potential client, chances are they won’t be thinking much about what type of personality you have.
“To be successful as an agent, you have to be honest, hard-working and take steps to master your trade, just like any other industry,” Michael D. Rehm, a Sacramento-area real estate agent and attorney, told Inman. “Potential clients will be able to tell if you understand the nuances of real estate transaction, and if you are an honest individual, that will mean far more than how extroverted or introverted you are.”
Be honest with yourself and others
“Come from a place of honesty and integrity,” Olhausen said. “This should take the ‘sales’ out of your sales pitch and allow you to resonate with clients on a more personal level.”
Don’t try to be something you’re not — many clients, and people in general, will appreciate authenticity and value it above other qualities you might feel pressured to adopt.
“Even in a persistent and customer-facing industry such as real estate, it can pay off to be an introvert,” Matt Woods, co-founder and CEO of SOLD.com, said. “That’s because all buyers are different, and some can be turned off by an overly aggressive or extroverted agent or broker. As an introvert, your niche can be these types of buyers who prefer working with someone with your kind of temperament.”
Don’t force yourself to do things that feel really uncomfortable
“If you get drained very quickly by being in a group of people, or cold calling and getting hung up on, or [insert any activity here], stop doing those things,” Andrew Iremonger, a Realtor with Emerald Group Powered by eXp Realty, said. “If your mentor, broker or coach doesn’t know another way to get business, you need a new mentor, in my opinion.”
Being a real estate agent doesn’t have to mean having interactions with clients all day, every day, either. Brokerages and teams require a lot of different tasks to be completed that aren’t necessarily public facing, so it’s worth considering if one of these types of roles is more well-suited to you as an introvert.
“Talk with your manager [about] whether you would like to accommodate customers in person or accommodate them by doing paperwork such as drafting contracts and auditing,” Bob Scott of SellLand.com in St. Louis advised.
For introverts, talking to people even in a normal conversation can be draining. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries for your interactions with other people, especially those who you know might leave you feeling tired out at the end of a conversation, like a colleague who is negative or always complaining.
“I see this play out a lot with people who are complainers, like if you have a colleague in the office who is super negative and complaining all the time,” Ashley Harwood, CEO and founder of Move Over Extroverts, told Inman. “Introverts don’t have a ton of energy all the time usually, so it’s a precious resource and we can’t let people suck that out of us for no reason. So setting that boundary of just walking away or making up an excuse and leaving the situation so you don’t let someone else steal your energy — that’s a big one.”
Showcase your listening skills
“Being an introvert is a definite asset in the real estate industry,” agent, author and investor Roseann Galvan said. “Because introverts are listeners, and when people are making decisions on the biggest purchase in their lives, they want to be listened to … They want someone who asks questions, listens to them and acts accordingly.”
Making notes, asking thoughtful follow-up questions and recapping what a client has just said back to them to make sure you understood correctly are all helpful ways of really showing clients that your listening skills are top-notch.
Focus on the quality of interactions, not the quantity
“Doing things on a more personal level and going deep (really getting to know 50 people very well) with your relationships versus going wide (getting to know as many people as possible) can be the difference between success and failure with an introverted real estate agent,” Iremonger advised.
He also noted that using one-on-one meetings with people in your sphere of influence to strengthen relationships, and ultimately grow your sphere, can be very effective. Similarly, if you want to hold an event or do some networking, focus on a select group of people and be sure to invite at least one person you feel really comfortable with, so you are more likely to act naturally and show off your personality.
“One leg of my lead generation is hosting play dates for local moms, and I have a great time doing it,” Karrie Escobar with Keller Williams Sunset Corridor outside of Portland, Oregon, told Inman. “It is low pressure and very casual and much easier for me than holding a big open house. Focusing on what is sustainable allows me to give my best to my clients without experiencing burn out.”
Do a self-assessment of what drains you most
One of the most effective ways for introverts to learn how to better navigate their lives is by doing a little reflection and self-assessment on what activities they feel drained by and what activities energize them.
“Start monitoring your energy levels and maybe going through your calendar for the past week and make note of which things recharged you and which things drained you,” Harwood advised. “That way, you can start to see some patterns and make better decisions about where you’re scheduling things.”
She said that one agent she coaches realized very belatedly that he was regularly sabotaging his own listing appointments by talking with his mom on the phone en route to an appointment, which ended up leaving him feeling drained. “She was a huge energy suck, and he didn’t realize it,” Harwood said. “So I’m like, ‘Just call her after the appointment!'”
Schedule time to recharge
Every introvert is different when it comes to social interactions sapping up energy. Therefore, it’s important to schedule in quiet work time between the more social-heavy portions of your day.
“Make sure that you are saving your best energy for your most important parts of your day,” Harwood advised.
In between those more high-stakes portions of your day, make sure you have some time to decompress a bit by driving in the car between appointments while playing some instrumental music or sitting in silence for five minutes while doing some breathing exercises — or any other activity that’s calming.
Team up with an extrovert
This strategy may not work for everyone, but some introverts may find it helpful to form a real estate team with an extrovert whose personality complements their own. That way, the two different agents can divvy up tasks that suit their personality best.
“The introvert handles the details and fine tuning of the transaction and the extrovert’s job is to bring new clients in,” Pila Jessie of Khorr Realty in Los Angeles advised.
Maintain clutter-free spaces
Keeping up work spaces and living spaces that are orderly and well-maintained is something that may not seem like a big deal at first, but these things can weigh on introverts more than they realize and significantly impact productivity levels, as well as cause stress.
“That can really affect the mental space,” Harwood said.
“That’s one of those things where, when you’re in it, you don’t think about it,” she added. “But then once it’s [organized], it’s like ‘Oh my god, it feels so much better.'”