What purpose do you serve?

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What is it that you do? This is a question often asked at first meetings in social settings. Go to a business meetup and chances are you'll get one to three minutes to tell your name, name of your company and state what it is you do. What is your answer? Do you reply, "I am a real estate agent" or "I am a loan officer"? Truly these do not answer the question.

Ines Hegedus-Garcia and Dale Chumbley at NARSelf identification is the struggle teenagers, and most humans, face all over the world. Even the animal kingdom, it seems, marches through a phase where each individual is "trying to find himself." One of the joys of being a thinking mammal is we individually have the opportunity to continue our search for purpose in phases or ad nauseam. 

"What do you want to be when you grow up" is a question often heard in primary schools and between young boys and girls in their own language everywhere. The training to answer with a title or career path begins then and is generally not corrected early on.

"I want to be a fireman!" Most little boys shout fireman with great glee as if on command. Oddly this has not changed over the years since fire trucks, probably even horse-drawn ones, were invented. Since we in the United States still live in a country where we have some choice in what we become it still is amazing how fireman is yet the number one answer. But it still does not answer the question "what do you do?"

We answer with our industry title or what it says on our license. "What do you do" is not "I'm a real estate agent". A real estate agent is what you are. Not all real estate agents are created equally regardless of what the public conception is. In fact most real estate agents, at least the more successful ones, have identified a niche and perfected how they do what they do ... not what they are. People inside the industry and in the same market can identify other agents by "what they do".

What you do is really what purpose you serve. Right now there are more real estate short sales experts than there have been ever. This is because there are more short sales opportunities than there ever have been. People who had not heard the term short sale three years ago have now carved out a niche and begun to serve the purpose of moving these short sales along.

Loan officers can become niche market specialists in thing like Georgia FHA Home Loans for example. In so doing they begin to serve the purpose of providing information about, in this case, providing information regarding FHA home loans in the state of Georgia. That becomes their purpose for that part of their life.

The next time someone asks "so what is it that you do" how are you going to respond?

*Photo credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia


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I started writing on Active Rain in 2006 when I was representing the mortgage industry. I am no longer in that industry and many of the older posts contain outdated information. Please do not contact me for LENDING or MORTGAGE questions but rather contact a licensed mortgage professional from your area. I have always been in marketing and branding and that is still what I do. Thanks for reading!

Comments (11)

Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Great food for thought!   It is smart to sit down and re revaluate what it is that you do in this world - I cnsider myself a matchmaker - folks and properties.......   and I have fun doing it, because I enjoy both - when there is a challenging group, I enjoy the challenge of getting them to where they need to go, and hopefully that is into or out of a home.....   

May 29, 2010 01:22 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

I really enjoy assisting relocation families coming into our great city to look for a property.    I love Denver, and also real estate.

May 29, 2010 01:38 AM
Michael Skerrett
Milestone Realtors - Downers Grove, IL

Ken, The question of "What do you do?" should be followed by an expansion of that answer to include "And I am also looking to..." Insert next goal here. To become a specialist in a niche as your short sale example states, there needs to be a personal growth and learning drive to match the opportunity in that area. I recently completed a SFR certification -"Short Sale and Forclosure Resource" and an ABR designation - "Accredited Buyers Representitive". Never stop growing and re-defining "What do you do?"  Thanks for the great post!   

May 29, 2010 02:03 AM
Susan Laxson CRS
Palm Properties - La Quinta, CA
Realtor in San Diego, CA & Naples, FL

This is a good post to reflect on... maybe it will help some of us to develop our "mission statement" - thanks for sharing it with us!

May 29, 2010 02:23 AM
Sam White
College Station, TX
Integrated Marketing - Bryan College Station,

Helping folks with real estae needs is very satisfying, both financially and emotionally. It's a great business!

May 29, 2010 02:24 AM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

I do way too much... and want to do so much more.  What I am is a car guy and a dad.  I also sell real estate... 

May 30, 2010 04:17 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

With regard to real estate.. I am a real estate who specializes in representing buyers only and my job is to look out for the buyers interests and to get the buyer the best price and terms possible.  >>> Now the elevator doors can open!  LOL

May 30, 2010 04:23 PM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

I inspire, encourage, anchor, create, solve. By turns.


May 30, 2010 04:32 PM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I think that when you ask a man this question their response is, "I am a ...".  I, however, don't equate what I do with who I am.  I am a mother, wife, believer in Christ, friend, daughter, and sister, who happens to help people buy and sell homes.  It is what I do but not who I am. 

May 31, 2010 05:30 PM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

I always answer what don't I do, LOL.  Being a mom and a wife is a bigger role than an agent.  Even though that is one tough job right now!

Jun 01, 2010 08:35 AM
Thom Abbott
MyMidtownMojo.com |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living - Atlanta, GA
Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale

I'm a person first, and a real estate agent second. No, wait, I think I am a life partner, then a real estate agent, then a person. Or is it.....oh, whatever!

For many in the market, it's "I'm just trying to stay alive."

I'm a community activist, a dog lover and a realtor.

I am many things.

Jun 01, 2010 05:29 PM