Take a few moments to think about whether you stand out from your competition. What is it you do that separates you from others in your industry? Maybe it’s your marketing, the level of service you provide, your online profile or a combination of all of these? Where does collaboration factor into how you stand out from every other agent in your local area?

Collaboration is a fantastic way of rising above the noise in the cutthroat world of real estate to boost your profile. I find it surprising that more in the industry don’t utilize it to create a win-win situation for both parties involved. As well as the ability to extend your reach and promote yourself in a different way to traditional marketing methods, it can often be a very cost-effective option for connecting with your community.

There will be businesses, organizations and individuals in your community that you have established strong relationships with, and more than likely there will be those you would like to build a relationship with. Collaborations enable you to build and strengthen relationships.

Many of my clients have created win-win collaborations and one of the ­­­most successful partnerships involve competitions promoted on Facebook. Partner up with a local business or businesses to produce a high-value prize. As you will be promoting their business as well as your own, there is the added benefit of negotiating the donation of (or substantially discounted) product/service. Typically, the more valuable the prize is, the more likely people are to enter, so ensure you detail the value of the prize. This is an excellent way of generating awareness of your Facebook page and even building your email database.

I strongly recommend using a contest app for any competition, as you are able to collect details of those who have entered, the app can be customized with images, etc., and an added bonus is using it to draw a winner randomly (a few free options if you would like to create a giveaway yourself are rafflecopter.com and shortstack.com). Once your contest/competition is live, set a budget and promote it through Facebook advertising (a very cost-effective way of spreading the word about your competition, and allows you to target certain demographics, including location, age, gender and interests). It is important to always ensure you are complying with Facebook’s promotion guidelines.

Here are just a few more ideas for collaboration opportunities:

  • Create a “welcome to the neighborhood” video — interview a number of high-profile citizens and ask them what they love about living in their community, then add it to YouTube and all of your online profiles.
  • Sponsor/organize a local garden or kitchen tour.
  • Get behind a local initiative you feel strongly about and passionately support it.
  • Host a local business networking event or set up a new business networking group.
  • Organize and/or sponsor a neighborhood party.
  • Set up and manage a closed Facebook group specifically for your local community to discuss and promote ideas, events, issues and news.

Your local newspaper may also be interested in covering your initiative, which is a fantastic way of receiving free publicity (as well as helping you to raise your profile and extend your reach even further).

It is important that you promote collaborations with your online community. Ask your followers/fans to share these events and initiatives with their online community to spread the word! Always take the opportunity to build your online, as well as your offline, community — wherever you promote your collaborations offline, make sure you have a link to your social networking site of choice so you can easily be found online. Remember that once someone has liked/followed you online, they will continue to see your future updates.

A final tip: At the time you are putting together your marketing plan for the year ahead, put together a collaboration plan as well!

Avelyn Holcroft-Lewer is director at New Zealand-based Biz Support Solutions, which supports and educates the real estate industry in building effective online profiles.

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