Friendship or salesmanship?

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If you have enough friends you never have to sell anything. If you have ever attended the Carnegie Institute you almost certainly know that in 1936 Dale Carnegie wrote, "How To Win Friends and Influence People". My uncle, Benjamin Wilkes Hale, did his best to get me to read it when I was about seven. It was much later before I finally picked it up.

During my formative businessman years, from about age twenty to age thirty-five, I really chewed through life. There were two kinds of people to me, useful and useless. Unfortunately for me most people were useless. My friends were all outside of my business world and everyone in my industry was relegated to a sub-category called "useless but necessary". Of course there was no actual list on paper or computer just a filing system inside of a mind yet to develop and grasp my opening sentence.


If you have enough friends you never need to sell anything. Why? Your friends will sell for you. Recently we had a kickoff to open our new southeastern regional office facilities in a very nice five star office building here in Atlanta. We gathered a good representation of our employees into one of the larger conference facilities and I was asked to close the event. 

When I stood up to speak I had my normal "so glad you came, sell a bunch by lunch - be a winner by dinner" talk when it dawned on me that's not what I do. I was about to tell these people to do something I don't do myself. So what is it I do and does it work for me?

I make friends. Of course I am a little older than most of you and I have been making friends for several years but it is never too late to start. Be a friend. Be more interested in what others have to say to you than what you have to say to them. Have you ever known a person who can't wait for you to shutup so they can get started saying what they want to say? Sure you have. If not you may ask your friend(s) if that person is  you. I certainly have been guilty.

When you enter a conversation lead with your ears and enter a lot of conversations. The squeaky wheel doesn't always get the grease - it also gets replaced. Attend meetings in person regardless of their size. If you are invited go! Collect business cards and send follow up emails or notes. Keep a birthday log and use it! Become that person who never sells anything and become that person who always comes to the top of people's minds when your industry is mentioned.

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Comments (61)

Deborah "Dee Dee" Garvin
C2 Financial - San Diego, CA
C2 Financial

Ken, great comments and insight.  The Carnegie course is great and recommended for anyone who interacts with people.  After all, aren't we all salespeople in one way or another?

Jun 07, 2010 07:29 AM
Bill Davies
McIntosh and Bell Commercial Funding - Murphys, CA

Thanks, Ken.  Applicable to any aspect of real estate - sales, lending, etc.  I can remember going through my dad's things when he passed away many years ago and finding a diploma from the Carnegie Institute and a dog-eared hard cover book he must have reread many times.  Been in my library ever since.

Jun 07, 2010 07:45 AM
Laura Filip
Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Ken you are correct with the blog post as I read it I thought wow someone got it just like I have got it. Folks in general wish to work with someone that they like someone that will listen to what they are wanting and try to help them achieve their goal of purchasing a home or property in general. Listen follow through and do the best you can and guess what life happens you make new friends and it is wonderful to be a Real Estate Broker


117 E MAIN SUITE 106



Jun 07, 2010 08:01 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

LOL, glad to see your back Ken. I read one sentence & thought to myself - those are the people that can't wait to start talking - and then you had the same sentence.  Shutup & listen, it really is good advice.

Jun 07, 2010 08:34 AM
Lesley Wagstaff
Re/Max Results Realty in Vancouver, BC - Coquitlam, BC
For Real Estate and Mortgages

Great advise we should all follow more often.  Thanks for the post and Congratualtions on your new office.

Jun 07, 2010 09:21 AM
Jodie Carpine
OurHouse - Spokane, WA
Owner/Designated Broker, ABR, AHWD, ePro, GRI, MRP

Wonderful post.  A much needed reminder!  Thanks

Jun 07, 2010 09:38 AM
Judy Orr
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale AZ and surrounding towns

I have a lot of friends - unfortunately, several of them are also REALTORS and it can make it uncomfortable for the rest of the friends since our large group usually knows all of us.  I finally partnered up with one of them which helped a bit, but I still get in the middle of "Judy, I want to list with you but I'm not sure what so and so will think and I don't want to make her mad."  Thing is, except for my partner, we're all full-time, successful agents with many years of experience.  So I always have to continue going outside of the "friends" group.  No problem, you can never have enough! 

Jun 07, 2010 09:38 AM
John Howard
Century 21 LeMac Realty - Mountain Home, AR
GRI, Mountain Home, Arkansas 870-404-3614

Ken,  Great post!  Funny how I find myself thinking...that guy never read Carnegie....or That gal needs to learn to win friends....Then,  I look in the mirror and try to re-adjust and find a friend.

Jun 07, 2010 10:02 AM
Nathan Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Davenport, FL
Your Central Florida Real Estate Expert

You are absolutely right on point here. Sometimes it's hard for us to remember that the world does not revolve around us. Leading with the ears sums it up though. Being a good listener is very difficult but is also very rewarding in the end. Good topic for a post.

Jun 07, 2010 11:34 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I have read it and should read it again.  I will put it on my list.

Jun 07, 2010 01:39 PM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

I try to find ways to help people I know... lots of times the introductions can be massively valuable.  Of course, I do need to be better at shutting up...

Jun 07, 2010 01:58 PM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Great point about going back to the basics.

Jun 07, 2010 06:10 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Most of the people I know fall into one of two categories: The Givers and the Takers.

I've found that it's not just more fun to associate with the givers, it's fun to be one of them.

Jun 07, 2010 08:30 PM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Never read that book but will add it to my list.  I love ths line from your post,If not you may ask your friend(s) if that person is  you. 

Jun 09, 2010 05:40 AM
Kim Quintal
Cornerstone Realty - Fortuna, CA

Love it!  Thanks for the post.  I've heard of the book but not yet read it.  You've inspired me to pick it up and read it.

Jun 09, 2010 10:12 AM
Ryan Schaffer
Re/Max Access - Philadelphia, PA

What a great post. This is such motivation for me after I had a few good deals fall apart last minute this week.

Jun 09, 2010 12:23 PM
Bill Travis
Captain Bill Realty, LLC - Gilbert, AZ

I"m wondering why posts that are 4 years old are showing up.

Jun 11, 2010 02:38 AM
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator

Bill - you can contact your Ambassador and they can help you find an explanation. Where did you see a 4 year old post that just showed up?

Jun 12, 2010 04:05 PM
Marsha Cash
RE/MAX Advantage - Stockbridge, GA

Nice points about making friends, not just using people.  Thanks.

Jul 02, 2010 08:23 AM
Steve Sandoval
Hacienda Heights, CA

You're speaking the truth Ken on Carnegie's teachings. Do not forget his "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living". Both must reads or if too busy, they are on CD.

Best of luck!

Jul 06, 2010 08:39 PM