How to Talk About Your Real Estate Career - without sending your audience running the other direction!

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

RunningYesterday, one of my readers sent me an article from her local newspaper that was a list of Do's and Don'ts for new college graduates. In the Top Ten list of Don'ts was this gem: "Never 'Friend' a Realtor on Facebook." No explanation; apparently, none needed.


Also yesterday, an article came out in Inman about a "sure-fire" prospecting technique that basically advises agents to accost anyone who comes within three feet of them with "I'm a real estate agent, do you know anyone who needs to buy or sell a home?" If the accosted person does not, in fact, know anyone who needs to buy or sell a home, the agent should smile sweetly and tell them they'll give them a little time to think of someone and check back in a bit. Or something like that.

Again, ouch.

I may rant further on the Inman article in a future blog, but for today, I'll just try to be helpful ;-] not rant-y.

So... here's me being helpful on this beautiful Friday.

Imagine having coffee with a potential new friend who, you find out, sells life insurance. Being self-employed yourself, you realize that this potential new friend would luuuuuuv to tell you all about his products and services, and persuade you send all your friends his way so he can do some "financial planning" for them.

Truthfully, you're really hoping he won't, right? But, sigh, you know he will. Just as you're tempted to do as soon as he finishes HIS pitch.

You settle in for the inevitable presentation, comforting yourself with the knowledge that it'll be your turn soon enough (you hope).

(Now, this behavior might be appropriate, or at least tolerated at a networking event, but it's actually rather obnoxious over a friendly cup o'coffee.) 

But what if... what if this potential new friend pleasantly surprised you by NOT launching into his elevator speech? What if... after you exchanged the obligatory "what do you do's?" he instead launched into... a funny story about one of his clients? Or a poignant story? Or even a light-hearted PITA story? But a STORY about his insurance business, without a hint of pitch, presentation or persuasion?

And then... when he finished his story, he turned his attention to YOU and seemed sincerely interested in your reciprocating with a funny, poignant or PITA story of your own about your real estate business?

Of course, you could return with: "Wow, that's really interesting. So, do YOU know anyone who needs to buy or sell? I promise to take great care of them, just like they're my family, and my company is awesome and I have a 168-point marketing plan and I have a promotion I'm doing right now that for every referral that goes to closing, I'll give the referer an iPad and the greatest compliment I can receive is your trust in me when you send your friends my way for professional real estate services...?"

And watch your potential new friend sigh, and politely disengage at the first opportunity, never to be heard from again.

Surely there are plenty of things you can share about your wonderful real estate career besides the fact that so you're so desperate for business you must beg for it at every social opportunity? Right?





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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Rosemary Brooks 05/13/2011 02:57 AM
  2. Rich Gaasenbeek 05/14/2011 09:37 AM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Introverts are (Sales) People, Too!
More Referrals: Strategies & Tips on Getting More Referrals
New Agent's Fasttrack to SUCCESS!
Selling Soulfully
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Show All Comments
Susan McLaughlin
Keller Williams Realty - East Monmouth - Red Bank, NJ
Monmouth County Real Estate

That was funny and so true.  We do cringe when other people launch into their pitch, pulling out their business cards.  We have to be better than that!

May 13, 2011 07:19 PM #33
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

I actually have some Real Estate Agents that I wish I wouldn't have friended.  Just saying...people ought to listen to your advice.

Wow, that's really interesting. So, do YOU know anyone who needs to buy or sell? I promise to take great care of them, just like they're my family, and my company is awesome and I have a 168-point marketing plan and I have a promotion I'm doing right now that for every referral that goes to closing, I'll give the referer an iPad and the greatest compliment I can receive is your trust in me when you send your friends my way for professional real estate services...?"

The above paragraph, that is hilarious!

May 13, 2011 07:25 PM #34
Anne Costello

I hate the words Sales Associate. I concentrate on providing a service. I agree the :30 second commercial is only appropriate during a networking event. I usually spend more time listening than talking, but that's okay too! Kind of demonstrates that I will be an avid listener with clients. Great insights!

May 13, 2011 07:26 PM #35
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Great post, Jennifer.  Yes, no one likes to be sold (but everyone loves to buy).  And, sounding desperate makes it less likely that someone will want to refer someone to you.  it does not inspire confidence.

May 13, 2011 09:10 PM #36
Christian Bastian
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Sayville, NY
Christian Bastian - Douglas Elliman Real Estate

There is a big difference between selling an idea or service versus creating awareness and expressing ones passion about their career. But of course always in measured doses based on the nature of each encounter. Thanks for the thoughts you hace inspired.

May 13, 2011 11:23 PM #37
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

You know, I just can't bring myself to do that and am glad I don't! My friends know what I do for a living and I am grateful when I get a lead from them but I sure don't bring it up when I meet someone unless they ask what I do for a living. I do wear my name badge often, which says it all. I don't need to say one word and the message is sent..............naturally, that badge stays home when I am attending a private function.

May 14, 2011 01:38 AM #38
xxxx xxxx
xxxx - Alexandria, PA

Hi Jennifer,

I thoroughly enjoyed your post !  So true !  It is a people first business and not a self-first business.  It is always interesting to see the reactions when you tell someone you're an agent.  They seem so relieved when they realize your ultimate goal isn't your sales pitch.



May 14, 2011 02:08 AM #39
Andrew Robb
RE/MAX Renaissance Realty - Peoria, AZ
RE/MAX Realtor - Peoria, AZ

Terrific suggestion! Anecdotal tales sound like a great way to still get the point across while remaining interesting and non-threatening at the same time.

May 14, 2011 02:14 AM #40
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks for all the affirmative comments... NOT just because I like being agreed with ;-] but because we need more voices out there in the world assuring like-minded souls that if we ever want to be perceived as professionals, this sort of nonsense must stop. Please help me spread the word that it's not necessary to be a desperate, self-serving, annoying, numbers-game-obsessed huckster to enjoy a successful career in real estate!

Anne - I wrote a little Manifesto recently on the topic of raising the level of our industry's professionalism, and one of my suggestions was to completely eliminate the word "sales" in our official (or unofficial) titles. No more sales associates, no more sales representatives! That is NOT what we do... but that's a rant for a different day.

May 14, 2011 02:21 AM #41
Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

Realtors should attend as many business networking meetings as possible. It's OK to talk about what you do. It is expected.

May 14, 2011 02:59 AM #42


I really enjoyed your post.  As a sales professional, and huge fan of the Dale Carnegie relationship based type of selling, I appreciate your sharing with all of our Active Rain colleagues.  Out of all of the sales people out there, in any industry, only a very small portion are sales professionals.  Strive to be in that minority and your business will flourish, and you will sleep better too!

Have a great weekend!

May 14, 2011 11:01 AM #44
Donald Reich
Prudential Centennial - New Rochelle, NY

I almost never bring up business. People ask ME about Real Estate

May 15, 2011 01:25 AM #45
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Rich - I had to read your response twice because at first, I thought you were saying that the bulldog approach you described was your CMO's preferred method. Once I read it RIGHT, I gave him a virtual high-five...

I exhibited at NAR in 2007 and forbade my crew to leave the confines of our booth, or to initiate conversation with anyone who didn't appear obviously open to being conversed with. But as I was watching other exhibitors aggressively virtually pulling at people to come visit, I could easily see why visitors walk as close to the center of the aisle as possible, avoiding eye-contact at all costs with the vultures exhibitors on both sides of them. Funny, since the majority of real estate training encourages them to behave the same way!

May 15, 2011 02:57 AM #46
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

What a great post!! I think I'll start a database of funny stories, for just such an occassion!   : )

May 15, 2011 04:36 AM #47
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Now funny stories are my specialty. I've got a lot of those like the woman who told me at a listing appointment that she was in the process of buying the school district to re-zone the school for her neighborhood. I've heard it all.

May 15, 2011 08:07 AM #48
Tiffany Taylor
Platinum Funding Group, Inc.NMLS-243033 - Irvine, CA
Platinum Funding Group

I think all of your friends and mine know what we do for a living... If they want or need our services they will ask, other than that trying to solicate business on facebook looks desperate and can even cause your facebook friends to hide your posts...  Unless you have a facebook page that is only used for business.

May 15, 2011 06:46 PM #49
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

Another Realtor friend of mine suggested I find your blog as I had mentioned how I am just not "pushy" as some offices would like you to be. That approach just doesn't work for me. And now I see why she sent me to read your thoughts - thanks for sharing!

May 16, 2011 02:09 PM #50
Blake Farley
Real Living Hacienda Realty - Silver City, NM

That's great!  But Jennifer, we real estate people are far more interesting than insurance people.  I mean, really...

But seriously, I would really really love to see that article about the "don't friend a realtor on facebook" - that's hysterical.  And now I'm suddenly more appreciative to all my facebook friends for tolerating me.

May 21, 2011 11:20 AM #51
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi Jennifer.  Nice post. 

It is amazing how many don't get there is a better way...


May 25, 2011 11:00 AM #52
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Mar 02, 2012 11:01 PM #53
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