Real estate conferences are always a good time and can be a transformative experience. You meet dynamic, like-minded people, get motivation and ideas from the industry’s best thinkers and speakers, and walk away with a real shot in your arm, ready to tackle your business in a whole new way. But…after a week or so, many of us tend to slip back into the behaviors and patterns we lived in before the conference, and other than riding that high for a short period, nothing changed at all.
Here are some strategies to use to ensure that the next time you attend a conference (cough, like FUBCON, cough,) you know you’re going to maximize your time, money, and energy and implement lasting positive changes to your business when you get home.
🏅 Set Your Goals
Think about the conference before you go and define your objectives. What are your goals in attending? Expanding your network, learning more about a specific topic, finding a new partner for a business opportunity, recruiting others to join your cause, or finding potential clients are all things you can accomplish while you’re there. By defining these goals specifically, “I am going to learn how to connect everything in my business to my Follow Up Boss account,” or “I am going to find another team to partner with and grow my business,” you will know exactly what you want to do and be much more likely to accomplish them.
🗓️ Plan Your Schedule
Look ahead at the agenda for the conference and make a plan as to what you want to attend and create a personalized schedule. Knowing where you want to be and when in advance will cut down on your game-time decision-making and reduce stress when you’re in an unfamiliar place and time zone. Be sure to also leave some wiggle room for breaks, meals, and spontaneous networking opportunities. You wouldn’t want to miss out on meeting someone fantastic if you are always rushing to the next event.
🤝 Be Prepared to Network
Can you describe who you are and what your business is within a few strong sentences? Prepare your elevator pitch in advance so that you can easily deliver it on the spot. Use any available event apps, Facebook Groups, or other social media to connect with people you want to meet before the conference begins. Having the initial formalities out of the way will make your in-person meetings more productive. Being approachable is also important, you never know who you will run into at the breakfast buffet or standing in line so keep your phone in your pocket and be open to chatting up strangers in any setting, opportunities abound if you are looking for them!
👩🏫 Attend Diverse Sessions and All Exhibits
A real estate conference is not the time to stick to your comfort zone. Of course, hit up the sessions most important to you, but take the opportunity to attend sessions and meet exhibitors that you are less familiar with or think you may not be interested in. Your perception of those topics or vendors may change and you may find just the thing that your business is missing!
📝 Take Notes and Ask Questions
Be sure to take notes and truly engage (where appropriate!) with those presenting. If it’s not welcomed during their presentation, stick around afterward to ask clarifying questions. The presenters, I am sure, are eager to share more and get to know the pain points in your business so that they can help. Taking notes may not seem like the cool thing to do, but our brains can only retain so much information. Documenting your notes and takeaways will be a valuable resource that you can use long after the conference is over.
✅ Decide Which Items You’re Going to Implement
Using your notes, decide which items you want to implement and make a list of what you want to implement when you get back. We suggest keeping a list either in the very beginning or end of your notes and jumping there as soon as you have an a-ha moment. Keep this running list during the conference and then revisit it when you get back. Some things you may add out of excitement and decide not to pursue, but having an easy-to-find list will be helpful in your next step.
🏗️ Make a Plan to Implement
Using the list you created during the conference, order these items as to which are going to move the needle the most for your business and start with those items first. If you have a team, delegate what you can to others to champion so you’re not doing it all yourself, and assign some rough deadlines on when you want to have these items implemented. Then go back and fill in the individual steps to complete each item to make smaller deadlines, giving you a solid plan to implement the things that you learned.
The initial appeal of a real estate career is often about time. The freedom of flexibility, being present for all the family events, and no one telling you where to be and when…that sounds pretty fantastic! The reality, as we all know, is anything but the above and, over time, even the best of us can develop habits that rob us of our freedom and most valuable asset: time.
Here are some ways we can reset the clock on some of those bad habits and get back to where we are truly enjoying our careers instead of feeling burdened by the feeling of never having enough time in the day.
Set boundaries with your clients – and yourself!
These are important to put into place at the outset of the relationship with your clients to set their expectations, and even more important that you stand firm on those boundaries. Decide which hours you respond to emails, texts, and phone calls and which you do not. You may be their only agent, but they are not your only client so communications at 9 PM (or later!) is not something that is going to set you up for success in the morning to have a productive day.
Make small, incremental changes
Don’t attempt a full overhaul of your schedule or business, that’s going to halt your progress. Make one small change a day and monitor what is working or not over time to help you decide which new habits to keep and which aren’t effective for you.
Have a business plan
One of the biggest time-wasters is not knowing exactly where you’re going. Even if you’re a single agent, you need to have a business plan: How many houses are you going to sell this year? How many contracts do you need to write to do that? How many clients do you need in order to write that many contracts? How many people do you need to connect with to get that many clients? What prospecting and marketing efforts do you need to make in order to connect with new people?
Knowing these metrics will give you a well-lit path to walk and you can break that down into the actions and efforts you need to take each day and week. If you’re staring at your yearly goal with no smaller plan, you will inevitably waste time on the wrong actions to get there and likely miss the goal at the end of the year.
Do Not Disturb
Whether it’s a sign on your door, a timer, or a setting on your phone, setting aside time for uninterrupted work is going to add hours back to your week. It’s easy to look up at the end of the day and realize that the entire day has gone by without you completing the things you needed. Being very intentional with your work time is going to make a big difference for you and leave you feeling fulfilled instead of drained at the end of the day. On average, it takes over twenty minutes for someone to get back into their workflow after being interrupted. Multiply that by several times per day and you’ve got a lot of lost time on your hands. This is a great way to practice holding the boundaries firm that we talked about earlier: it can wait an hour until you’re done with this important work, I promise.
Prioritize the work that is going to yield you the most results
What are the activities you do that truly move the needle forward for your business? For most of us, it’s prospecting for new clients and following up with existing contacts. Schedule this non-negotiable time into your day and honor it every single day you can. One day missed is no big deal, but finding yourself “busy” will easily lead to weeks or even months with no prospecting if you don’t set the time aside to create new business.
Audit your time and make the necessary changes
If you have a mobile device, you will have some type of tracker to educate you on where you are spending your time online. If you’re looking for more time, you can likely find it in the social media section of your phone. Take the five hours you spent on Instagram yesterday and try to knock it down to just one. You’ll still get your fix, and you’ll have FOUR hours back in your day to do the things that you actually need to do.
Utilize cloud storage and digital resources
Don’t get me wrong, I love a paper notebook. It’s satisfying to write in and to turn those pages, but if I’m at a showing and someone calls needing a file that I’ve left on my desk across town that’s a BIG time waster. Organize your files into a digital storage system that you can access from anywhere. Utilize a single digital calendar instead of the hand-written one you’re always struggling to keep updated. The things you use often or are necessary for your transactions should be just a click away to save time AND deals!
Model your behavior after someone who is achieving the level of success you are striving for
Find someone who seems to be nailing their work and ask if you can talk to them about how they structure their day, manage their time, and handle multiple transactions successfully. Ask them about their habits and processes around these and adopt what they are proving to be as successful time and business management strategies.
Organize your email
Do you have hundreds or thousands of emails sitting in your inbox? Disorganized communication leads to loss of time and potentially losing crucial information to hold a transaction together for your clients. Use tags, filters, and folders to put things into the right places. Unsubscribe from the emails you never read. Turn off notifications that are redundant and leave on only the most important ones.
Keep your meetings on topic and short
We’ve all seen the look of our clients or agents’ eyes glazing over. The meeting has gone on too long and we’ve lost their attention. After an hour, our ability to retain information and connect in a meaningful way decreases significantly. Keep your meetings on topic with an agenda, and share with those you are meeting with what time the meeting begins and ends and honor it. Having a plan will make these more effective in a shorter amount of time.
Utilize all of your CRM’s tools and automate everything you can
Whether it is Follow Up Boss or another CRM, you’re going to have tons of tools at your disposal to organize your work. Put everything into your CRM having to do with that client or transaction so it’s easy to find. Sync your calendar and your email so you don’t have to look in multiple places. Automate everything you can ahead of time so that you don’t have reminders popping up for birthdays and house-a-versaries. Get to know all of the tools that they offer as they are designed to save you time and effort to accomplish more.
Ditch the multitasking
Yes, you can walk your dog and talk on the phone at the same time, but prospecting while you answer emails and check social media? Not a good idea. Focus on one item at a time and turn off your distractions. If I was checking my email or Slack messages while writing this for you, it would take me all day! I’ve set a timer, turned off everything aside from this and my gif search and I’m going to knock this out and whatever else I can before that buzzer rings. Giving something your undivided attention will not only improve the quality of your work, but your clients and potential clients will be able to feel that you are giving them your all, which makes you more desirable to work with.
Use your calendar for everything
By putting everything on your calendar, you are making micro-commitments. I commit to prospecting at this time on these days. I commit to meeting this client at this time. I commit to going to my daughter’s soccer game.
This will help you block off the non-negotiables, see where you have redundancies, and can save time, and overall work more efficiently because you have a plan for your day. I share my work calendar with my personal one so that I can see everything in one place, which is also a time saver.
Schedule time for self-care and rest
You’re never going to have it all done. You’re never going to be finished. At some point during the day, you’re going to need to call it and go enjoy yourself – enjoy your life! If you are running yourself ragged for days and weeks on end your entire productivity level is going to drop and, soon enough, you won’t be able to help anyone because you’ll be so burnt out. Take care of yourself first, it’s not selfish, and leave some reserves in the tank every day. You’re still doing great work, you’re still taking fantastic care of your clients, you are just ensuring that you can continue to care for them longer because you’re putting yourself first.
Regardless of what industry you work in, you’ll find advice and articles that say, “The Number One Killer of a ______ Career is Inconsistency.” That, in my experience, is true for any career, relationship, hobby, exercise, or sport you are making a go of. This newsletter is about real estate, so I will keep it in that vein, however, increasing your consistency across all areas of your life will serve you well.
The most successful real estate agents have built their careers on years of effort and work. Putting in a few weeks or months of effort will not make you a wild success. Give yourself time to grow and accept this uncomfortable truth about success so that you don’t give up or become frustrated. Know that it is going to take you a while, figure out how to enjoy the process, and keep going.
Falling in love with the process will allow you to spend time thinking about and building processes around your work, learn from your mistakes and be consistent with your efforts. Growth comes from making small tweaks to improve what you’re already doing. You need a strong foundation to build upon and you cannot do that if you are scrapping everything and starting over brand new every time you run into challenges.
So if we want to build our consistency, where should we start that will have the most impact on our business? I would start with your prospecting and follow up. This is one of the most important aspects of building a business and something we can all improve upon, whether we are a newer agent or a seasoned one.
Prospecting and follow up is one of the first things to fall by the wayside when we get busy, and it should be the one thing we never stop doing.
Staying consistent with these means you have to push yourself. Humans, by nature, crave comfort, stability, and safety. By pushing yourself you naturally will become uncomfortable, making it that much more likely that you’ll stop, especially if you are unsure of the outcome: What happens on the other side of this uncomfortableness? What if I fail? What if I SUCCEED? If you aren’t pushing beyond what you typically do, you stay safe. You can control and anticipate the outcome because it’s what you’ve always done and, therefore, what you’ve always achieved.
But we aren’t here to do what we’ve always done and to get what we’ve always gotten. We are here because we want more for ourselves and our families and, to push yourself, means that you have to be willing to do the things you don’t want to do, to get uncomfortable to gain the rewards that no one else is willing to work for.
So how do we build increase the consistency of our prospecting and follow up??
Schedule this on your calendar as a recurring event and honor that time. Yes, something will come up and you will inevitably need to move it sometimes, but if you nail it three to four days a week instead of one…or none! – you’ll be in significantly better shape than you were previously.
If you’re finding that your day gets away from you and you lack energy at the end of the day, schedule the time block for the morning. If your mornings are always a mess, schedule it for the afternoon. Choose the time that sets you up for success.
Make sure you’re speaking their language.
Do they prefer to email? Like to text instead of talk on the phone? Or do they want to have a call for every step of the process? Meet them where they are instead of how you like to communicate.
Provide value at every interaction.
No more “Just checking in!” Send them something that educates them, a tool they can use, or even just something to think about that will help them prepare for their move. Taking the time to offer them intentional, constructive information every single time you follow up will set you apart from your competition in the area and solidify your position as the local real estate expert. There’s a ton of information available, even if it’s just reading articles or watching videos about real estate and sharing with them what you’re learning.
Find a way to help them, even if it’s to pass them on to someone else.
Are they just looking for a rental? You’ve got someone. Do they need to repair their credit before they can do anything? You’ve got a great connection. Yes, you need to make this a quick transaction with someone who isn’t ready or willing to buy in the near future, but offering the tools and connections you have available will make them remember you and the conversations easier when you follow up down the road, vs if you had just blown them off.
Give your new and uncontacted leads a fair shot to connect.
So many times I see one to three attempts from someone to a new person in the database and the agent moves on…forever. These folks are at the beginning of their journey, this isn’t like buying a pair of sunglasses off an Instagram ad, they are going to need some time between when they first start learning and exploring and when they want to execute. Keep bringing them value, be patient, and meet them where they are.
Keep going. Know, without a shred of a doubt, that you are headed in the right direction and it’s going to work out.
You’re doing it. You’re already successful even if you haven’t hit it big yet. Keep going even when it’s hard, even if you’ve had a bad day or a bad week. Deep breaths and one foot in front of the other. You can do it, I know you can.