Want to increase your impact and improve your business? New Inman contributor Amy Hullet says the key is taking a genuine interest in people and getting out there to meet them where they are.

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I have been in real estate for almost 20 years, long enough to have experienced several market shifts. Through all of these shifts, real estate agents, myself included, have faced various challenges.

The current challenge is the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) proposed settlement that would decouple commissions and require buyer’s agents to have a buyer representation agreement in place with buyers before showing homes. These proposed changes have the industry reeling.

As I think about the current environment in which we are navigating the rapidly changing future of real estate, I am reminded of a few important things I learned in the past two decades.

I cannot control outside forces, so I consciously focus on what I can control, how I can adapt to these outside forces and how I can maintain a positive attitude. What’s most important is for Realtors to continue doing what we do best: helping people buy and sell homes. Whether you are a buyer’s or seller’s agent, we offer great value to clients and deserve compensation.

 Here are a few ways to focus on what I can control and lead by example.

‘No’ is not in my vocabulary

I got into real estate after making a move to Bismarck, North Dakota, where my husband had been tapped to be the CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce. We had two young children, and I wanted a flexible job.

Real estate was also a great way to meet people in the community. I attended many Chamber of Commerce functions and started to build my network and expand in different areas. My business flourished, and I became involved in my local and then state Realtor Associations and found many local community efforts to support. 

When it comes to community involvement, I don’t know how to say “no.” I strongly feel that if you don’t say “yes,” you don’t see how the community needs to be supported and how you can impact or change people’s lives.

I have been called a natural leader but do not see it that way. I like to go “all in.” When I get involved, I am involved. I lead by example. I am not a sideline watcher. I see a need and say, “How do we improve it?” It’s a matter of raising your hand and then getting hands-on in making a difference.

I am also very competitive, and I wouldn’t say I like to lose. We had a competition among Realtors and mortgage and title folks a few years back to raise money for children with food insecurities, and I went out of my way to raise the most money.

It’s not only about raising money; raising awareness is just as valuable. I have become an advocate, champion and promoter of the organizations I am involved in. I love that I can use my platform as a Realtor to spread the word and get things done.

Regarding events, I like to say it’s not enough to attend. You have to “do” the event. I sponsor tables, invite different people to my table, meet and mingle, and donate my handmade quilts as auction items. Like I said, I am “all in.” 

My advice to making the most of events — and pretty much everything else in life — is to show up and be in the moment. I have been consistently recognized as a top producer but still attend every sales meeting, believing I always have something to learn. 

I believe in women supporting women

I was lucky to start my career in a woman-owned brokerage where the people around me were getting a lot of production awards. No one said, “You can’t do that,” so I also focused on reaching that level.

That was a big deal for me because I grew up in a small town of about 1,000 people, and no one expected too much of anyone. However, my husband was from the same small town, and we are each other’s biggest supporters.

We cheer each other on and always encourage each other to improve daily. My husband always says, “It doesn’t matter what side of the tracks you come from.”

Along the way, I cultivated the people in my orbit so that I could continue to grow. Part of that involved making a difficult decision to move my business to another company. Leaving the supportive female broker who had started my career was heartbreaking, but I was looking to bring my business to the next level. 

The company I moved to, Century 21 Morrison Realty, is also women-owned and led. I have found this to make a big difference. People align themselves with women leaders because they lead with empathy. They listen. They understand family and the chaos that comes with it.

I think women with children are way more efficient in the workplace because they have two full-time jobs and the same number of hours in the day as people without children.

Having children used to be seen as a hindrance but has become a strength. Throughout my 19-year career in real estate, I have also seen a growing confidence in women leaders. Watching them grow and succeed has inspired and motivated me, and I want to be like them, seekers of something better. 

I have also found women to be really good at the open-door policy. The old-fashioned corner office CEO model, where you have to make an appointment or be invited to meet with the CEO, is not how women work. In my experience, being able to walk into an office and throw ideas around or discuss a challenge before it becomes a problem is an invaluable component of the women leaders in my life.

My advice to women looking to advance their career in real estate is to not look at other women as competition but as collaborators. Working together can create tremendous opportunities to learn from others and lift everyone up instead of greedily guarding secrets. Tag on to other successful women, and you will do better. 

My clients are my people

Everyone says real estate is a relationship business, and I could not agree more. Nothing makes me happier than meeting a new client and getting to know them.

My favorite clients are move-up clients, ones who are able to move into their dream homes. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of these folks because of the way I have kept in touch with all my clients from the beginning.

We worked together on their first home, and eventually, we got to work together on their second or even third home. Being with them for the entire journey has meant that much of my business is in the mid- to high-end of the Bismarck-Mandan market.

Regardless of their price range, I cultivate my relationships with my clients and their life changes have brought me to this place in my business.

Staying connected brings value to my business

I also send every client holiday cards and an anniversary card celebrating the purchase of their home with a Starbucks gift card tucked inside. And all these notes — yes, I handwrite them!

I keep in touch with clients by sending lottery tickets for St. Patrick’s Day, wishing them luck and telling them, “I’m lucky to have you as a client.” During the winter holidays, I invite my clients to come into the office to pick up a poinsettia. I love these in-person touches.

My closing gift comes in two parts: at the actual closing, I bring a cutting board and a set of knives. Then, about a week later, I deliver Omaha steaks to their new home for them to enjoy and celebrate together.

I genuinely love getting to know my people. Learning about them expands my understanding and appreciation of the world in which we live. The more I get to know my people, my life is enriched. With every person I meet, I become better.

With over 19 years of experience, Amy Hullet is a dedicated, full-time real estate agent recognized for her customer service, integrity, tenacity and creating an environment for her buyers and sellers to be successful. Connect with Amy on Linkedin and Facebook.

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