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The Agency agent Matt Lionetti’s first three years in the real estate industry were “terribly bad.”

The Toronto-based social media dynamo entered real estate in 2016 with the dream that his retail experience would quickly result in lucrative sales. Instead, he found himself wearily knocking on doors and being rudely shooed off by neighborhoods where, in so many words, he was told to never come back again.

“I remember my first time door-knocking. That’s me, Day One. Oct. 1, 2016 [with] two bottles of Dippity-Do Gel in my hair that day,” he told the Agent Connect crowd on Tuesday while pointing to a selfie displayed on the stage screen. “I asked someone in my office, ‘How do you be successful?’ And they said, ‘You’ve got to door-knock.’ I said, all right. I’ll be the best door-knocker this town’s ever seen.

“The third door I knock on, I hear someone and feel an immediate pit in my stomach because at that moment, I realized, I don’t know what to say,” he said while recounting how he fumbled through his pitch. “We weren’t connecting. And she goes, ‘Get the f— off my property.’ I walked off.”

Although he can laugh at that moment now, Lionetti said that day stuck with him for years as he struggled to re-create the success his colleagues seemed to so readily create.

“I was trying to be something I wasn’t. I was trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be and it was super frustrating because I would do all the things that I thought were right, and I would do everything that everyone else was doing,” he said. “They were all having a great time. But I was trying everything under the sun — I was door-knocking, cold calling, [hosting] open houses, doing mail-outs, client events, and nothing was working.

“I got into the business because I thought I had a good personality,” he added. “Ironically, as soon as I got in, I lost all my personality.”

While on the verge of giving up his career, Lionetti decided to throw caution to the wind and discard the well-meaning advice he’d been receiving from senior agents. If he was going to go out, he said, it would be on his own terms.

“I knew I wanted to be on social media. I knew I wanted to be on Instagram. I liked doing it. So now the next couple of days, I’m saying OK, ‘Well what sells? What sells? Sex sells? And then I looked in the mirror. I said, not for you, it does,” he said to a burst of laughter from the crowd. “I quickly abandoned that and went to the motivational side. I filmed actually some of those videos and they never saw the light of day.

“Then I always had these comedy ideas since I got into the industry. Literally week one, I shared these ideas with people and they all said the same thing: ‘That’s fun and creative, but you can’t do that. That’s not professional. No one’s gonna take you seriously. You’re already young. You can’t do that,'” he said. “I swept it under the rug and didn’t think of it until the moment I was thinking of getting out of the business.

“Then it all clicked one day — I was being so precious about a brand and an image that I didn’t have. No one knew who I was, so it didn’t matter if I posted the video or didn’t post the video. No one was waiting for videos from Matt Lionetti.”

So Lionetti enlisted help from his wife who filmed the first video on an iPhone. There was no real production value, he said, but the video immediately gained traction on social media and garnered his seller three offers over asking price within eight hours.

“Once that all happened, I was like, ‘Oh, damn. There’s something here,'” he said. “Maybe those people who told me not to do it just never tried to do it. And from that moment on, I just kind of had tunnel vision.”

Since then, Lionetti’s videos have boosted him to the upper echelon of Toronto real estate with a whopping 90 percent to 95 percent of his business coming from Instagram. In fact, he said, a video he posted in October 2020 led to a $3.9 million listing appointment this week.

“Some of you probably think I’m more of a lunatic,” he said of the horror-inspired listing video he shared with the audience. “That video just got me a $3.9 million listing appointment. I got the email yesterday … . So being a lunatic helps.”

“If you have a great idea and you want to do something, and everyone says it’s not the way to go [but] you feel strongly about it, f— them.”

Email Marian McPherson

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