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Like many real estate agents, Katie Clancy was once schooled in the ways of high-intensity prospecting.
It made her stomach turn, she said. It didn’t feel right to be that aggressive toward potential clients, just to play the numbers game.
But agents don’t have to rely on these tactics to expand their name recognition in the community, Clancy told a room of real-estate professionals at Inman Connect New York. Instead, the team she leads at The Cape House in Massachusetts has built recognition — and revenue — through civic engagement.
“We don’t door-knock, most of us; we don’t cold-call, most of us,” Clancy said. “But we’re here because Wall Street has not yet figured out how to leverage humanity.”
These methods can strengthen an agent’s brand while increasing goodwill, she said.
Clancy shared five tips for agents looking to tap into more civic networks in their communities.
1. Commit to your brand
An agent develops a brand in their community, whether they mean to or not.
They should embrace this, Clancy said, not run from it. But they should also be careful not to come across as transactional.
Clancy’s rules for agents are simple: Be a good human being. Be active in contributing to their communities. And be attached to the activity itself, not the results that come from it.
While Clancy stresses the importance of community involvement for its own sake, with time, it does produce business for the agent who does it well.
“Keep filling that cup,” Clancy said. “It will eventually overflow, and you will reap the benefits.”
2. Become a local leader
Involvement in the community should go beyond attending the occasional volunteer event, Clancy said.
Agents should strongly consider joining the board of a community nonprofit organization, or a local government — places where agents aren’t just contributing to the community, but are also plugging into groups of active, engaged residents.
It’s important that the agent choose a cause they are invested in. They have to mean it, Clancy said.
“If you’re just going to be around those people that have the dollars, and you don’t take the second step, you’re going to fail,” Clancy said. “They’re going to find out that you’re only in it for the dollars.”
If an agent goes the route of joining a local government board or commission, they should use it as an opportunity to stand for something they believe in, Clancy said.
If an agent-turned-zoning-commissioner takes a stand for housing affordability, for example, they might alienate some potential clients. But they will open doors to doing business with more clients who agree with them, and might not have heard of them otherwise.
3. Give your time, money
Beyond taking on a leadership role, agents should continue to give their time and money to local charities and institutions, Clancy said.
Importantly, they should actually attend the events where people come together to donate to these local causes. Showing up at these galas, fundraisers and other events shows an agent is committed. They can also serve as opportunities to meet more members of the community, and get some extra free visibility.
Agents shouldn’t be shy to put their money where their mouth is, Clancy said. Donating money toward the cause is an important step.
They shouldn’t shy away from paying for the tickets to these events or even buying a table. Bring a client or two if there are extra seats at the table, she said.
4. Link your clients to the community
The civically engaged agent can also share their knowledge by connecting clients with key institutions in their communities.
Clancy’s team uses what she calls a “townie starter kit,” as a closing gift. The buyer receives an envelope that directs them to the front door of a nearby local business, where they get a free item or special deal.
The small business gets a potential new customer from the deal. It comes at a minimal financial cost to the real estate brokerage. And the homeowner tends to get a kick out of it, Clancy said.
This type of partnership with local businesses also further entrenches the agent in the community, leaving an impression on former clients and business owners alike.
5. Start a weekly show
People want to know more about the towns they live in or visit, Clancy said, and real estate agents are in a great position to provide that info.
Clancy encouraged the Inman audience to start their own weekly video shows. These shows can explore the various topics of the community, its local real estate market, or any other area in which the agent has gained expertise.
This serves to further build an agent’s brand in the community, Clancy said. Even if an agent is skittish in front of cameras, they should consider a podcast format, she said.