Rejection-Free Prospecting That's Both Easy and Effective

Real Estate Agent with United Real Estate Partners, LLC LA #0000042692

There are no new fundamentals. You’ve got to be a little suspicious of someone who says, ‘I’ve got a new fundamental.’ That’s like someone inviting you to tour a factory where they are manufacturing antiques.” –Jim Rohn

Daring to be Different

This post is about a wondrously effective method of rejection-free prospecting, but it’s not going to be another one of the dozens of articles you’ll likely see this month alone, about Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Instagram or Google+ or Pinterest or Tumblr.

Unfortunately—and maybe you’ve noticed this, too-- social media platforms seem to be getting noisier every day—with more and more people talking, and fewer and fewer people listening.

Sometimes, if you really want to be noticed, you have to dare to be different, which in this case doesn’t mean speaking more loudly to an audience of hundreds or even thousands, in an ever more desperate bid to be heard.

It means speaking more quietly and personally… to an audience of one.


The Humble Hand-Written Note Takes on a New Power to Impact People.

The Power of the Hand-Written Note

When was the last time you received an actual hand-written note or letter—not a greeting card or invitation, but a real note or letter?

Networking experts have long sung the praises of the simple hand-written note’s power to make personal connections and to help build relationships. 

But in our new world of instant written communications—email, texting, microblogging, and status updates, the time it takes an idea to travel from our thoughts to another person’s eyes can be measured in seconds.

Surely in this world, the hand-written note only survives as a curiosity, a relic from an earlier time.

But that’s exactly where its power lies. It’s a tradition from a time when the world seemed to move more slowly, when we seemingly had more time to spend paying attention to one another, and not just, as now, to our various “screens.”

A hand-written note indicates a thoughtfulness and investment of time on the part of the sender, an investment focused solely on the recipient. 

This is something that almost never fails to flatter and impress.

And since hand-written letters, notes, and thank you cards have become increasingly rare in our society, the ability to make a real impact with one is now greater than it ever has been.

How to Harness This Power for Your Business

Getting Fancy with a Wax Seal

Now, that I’ve finished waxing poetic about hand-written notes, let’s get down to brass tacks about how you can use them in your business as a client-attracting tool. ;-)

Here are a few suggestions:

1.) Go to your favorite office supply store or bookstore, or better yet, a stationary store, and buy some nice cards and envelopes. Get some thank you notes, of course, but also get some blank cards, or ones that say something, like “Just a Note.”

(You can also get fancy, with ribbon or colored string or wax seals—but even if you’re the “crafty” type and inclined in this direction, I’d counsel against making this too complicated at the beginning.)

2.) You may also consider making a stop at the post office and picking up some nice commemorative stamps that fit your personality. This isn’t 100% necessary, but remember, you’re trying to make an impression here, and details count.

3.) Commit to sending a small number of personal notes out five days a week. Networking experts suggest five a day. But I’d suggest starting with two or three a day, until the habit is embedded. Make it easy to do. You can always work your way up.

4.) Start looking for opportunities where it would be a nice thing to do to send a personal contact a note, as opposed to situations where you “should.” 

  • An inspector did a great job for your client? Send a note.
  • Ran into an old acquaintance at the store? Send a note.
  • Something today reminded you of an old client who was great to work with… You get the idea.

5.) Think of creative ways you can incorporate hand-written notes into some of your existing marketing. Could you send a nice introduction or follow-up note to…

  • A FSBO
  • An Expired Listing
  • An Open House visitor
  • An Influencer in your Farm Area (Garden Club president, HOA president, Youth Sports coach, etc.)

By the way, making this into a “want to” versus a “have to” will help the habit stick.

Here are a couple of examples of nice sentiments:

The sentiment in a well-written, effective note should, of course, be sincere, but truly memorable notes most often express one of the following emotions: appreciation, admiration, or gratitude.

In addition to any personal thoughts you'd like to express, you might use some language similar to the following examples (each of which help to also keep things beneficial for business without being obtrusive).

• “If there’s any way I can ever be of help to you in your career [or alternately, “in building your business” or whatever seems most relevant here], please let me know.”

• “If you ever have a quick question about real estate-- like ‘What did the neighbor’s house sell for?’ :-), don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. I’d be pleased to be a professional resource for you.”

Of course, these types of sentiments are best expressed right at the end of the note, or even in a “P.S.”

Be Sure to Set Up a Specific Routine

I suggest something like this:

  1. In the evening or at the end of the workday, make a list of three people (or whatever number you’ve committed to) that you will send notes to the following day.
  2. Set the list on your desk, along with three sets of appropriate stationary and three stamps.
  3. The next morning, get your day started right by making this the first work-related task you do. It’s easy, it’s positive, and it will give you a feeling of accomplishment that will help motivate you for the rest of the day.
  4. Commit to doing this for at least three to four weeks, as a test. 

What This Could Mean For Your Business

If you actually do this, I’d be shocked if you don’t get at least a couple of emails or phone calls in return.

This is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most impactful types of personal prospecting you can do. And almost no one does it!

What would the impact to your business be like, if even half the people you send notes to, started thinking of you whenever they think of real estate?

[Image #1 & #2: Used under license from iStockPhoto.]

[Image #3 Credit]


Have you ever sent hand-written notes as part of your marketing or prospecting plan?

Do you have a success story to share about a contact you made or a client or referral you picked up with this technique? 


Comments (44)

Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

I actually try to do this but not with any regularity. I need to start each day like this like you suggested. Manufacture antiques? So cute.

Sep 03, 2013 07:09 AM
Brian Sharkey
SharkeyRE LLC - Singer Island, FL

Craig, I suscribed, because I know there will be other great posts like this one.  Thanks for sharing.

Sep 03, 2013 07:15 AM
Yvette Chisholm
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500

This is so important and so easy to look for excuses.   That handwritten note makes a difference to people.   I know so many people using the auto card services, but a nicely written note can make a great impression.   Take the time - do the work - great reminder.

Sep 03, 2013 07:48 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Debbie - Awesome! It's hard to over-emphasize the value small gestures like that can have over time in developing customer or client relationships.

Tim - Exactly right!

Roger - You're welcome, and good luck. I'd love to hear about the results you get. Feel free to message me, and let me know!

Lorrie - Nice job. That's exactly the type of thing I'm talking about. :-)

Rosie - That gets to the heart of it. It's easy to do, and unlike other types of "marketing" initiated on the business person's end, it's usually appreciated even when the "prospect" isn't interested at the moment!


Sep 03, 2013 09:53 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Caroline - Nice tip! And smart idea about sending cards on "off" holidays, when others aren't. One smart marketer I know promotes the idea of sending Thanksgiving cards, as opposed to Xmas cards, since virtually no one does that.

Evelyn - Awesome! Glad to hear you're "ahead" of the curve on this classic idea.

Kelle - That's great to hear. Keep up the good work. :-)

Michael - Indeed. And targeting specific markets is always a good idea.

Richie - Thanks! Much appreciated.


Sep 03, 2013 10:34 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Raymond - You're quite welcome.

Jim - You're right. There are a lot of advantages to the "old-fashioned" personal touch, but I don't think it has to be either/or. The mistake, I think, is going 100% one way or another.

Jeff - I think that's a very smart idea. ;-)

Bill - Sounds like a plan! Good luck.

Harry - Yup. And the more people go digital, the more any type of physical mail will stand out.

Sep 03, 2013 11:04 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Eric - Awesome! I'd love to hear about your results when you do. Shoot me over a message, and let me know.

Greg - We are all so fascinated by what's new and different. Many years ago, when I first trained in sales, I remember some of the old-timers talking about cool strategies they used in the past and when asked why no one did that anymore, they'd reply (tongue in cheek), "Oh yeah, that worked so well, we decided to stop using it." LOL

Brad - Nice adaptation!

Michelle - Awesome! Please message me and let me know what kind of results you get!

Marc - Nice... :-)



Sep 03, 2013 11:11 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Matt & Molly - Great job!

Brenda - Awesome! Would love to hear what kind of results you get.

Kim - Glad you liked the suggestion for a routine. Stuff like that is so important for actually getting ideas implemented.

Praful - Yes, I didn't mention it, but there are actually services that will hand-write and send the notes for you! And thanks very much for the kind words. They are much appreciated. :-)

Jill - Ha! Glad you liked the quote. And yes, I think you'll have good results if you try the technique I mentioned. Let me know how it works out for you!

Sep 03, 2013 11:39 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Brian - You are too kind. I'll try not to disappoint!

Yvette - I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. :-)

Sep 03, 2013 11:41 AM
Phil Stevenson, CRMP
PS Mortgage Lending 305-791-4874 or 888-845-6630 - Miami, FL
"Mortgage Nerd" in Miami, Florida and Texas

Craig, one of the reasons social media is not a good route anymore is that people are using it just to advertise without taking into consideration that social media requires you to be SOCIAL. Handwritten notes gives you, not only more personalized relationships, but also gives you the social aspect of social media with your advertising.

Sep 04, 2013 04:20 AM
Ava Anderson
A-Z Atlanta Realty - Snellville, GA
Selling Atlanta from A-Z!

I do this from time to time although I am not very consistent.  I guess I will work doing this concisisently.

Sep 04, 2013 05:02 AM
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Hi Craig, You re right-on with your blog message.  My wife has been hand writing notes for a long time.  Of course Zig Zigler, Michael Maher, and others she reads everything she can get her hands on.  Then of course she explains it all to me.

Sep 05, 2013 08:58 AM
Larry Johnston
Broker, Friends & Neighbors Real Estate and Elkhart County Subdivisions, LLC - Elkhart, IN
Broker,Friends & Neighbors Real Estate, Elkhart,IN

Hi Ava, I know it takes longer, but if it works I am all for it, but I have to admit that I don't do it all that much either.

Sep 05, 2013 11:26 PM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

You make it sound so easy, I usually do not have the address and of course the ole forgetfulness. But I will commit to 1 a day.

Sep 06, 2013 01:27 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Phil - You're right. It's not really social media, per se, that's the issue. It's just that, though it can still be very effective when used correctly, there seems to be more and more competition for attention  every day on those platforms.

Ava - Good luck. I think you'll find the results will be worth it.

Larry - You could always do worse than following Evelyn's lead! ;-)

Charles - Yes, sometimes it takes a little footwork to dig up addresses, bt if you give this a try-- even at one a day-- I think you'll see some nice results over time.

Sep 06, 2013 08:26 PM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

So, Craig, are you saying use personal stationery and not our own branded company stationery? I have wondered about that - and would you put a business card or two in it?

Sep 16, 2013 04:22 AM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Hey Sharon- I definitely wouldn't put any business cards in with the note. You really do want it to come off primarily as a personal note. As far as the branded stationary, I would say it depends. If it has some subtle branding I think that would be okay, but you don't want it to look like a business letter. The purpose is really to convey a sincere personal sentiment, but to also position yourself as a resource, using some language simiar to the suggestions I made in the post. Hope that helps. :)

Sep 16, 2013 06:24 AM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Craig, that is very helpful. Our personal branding is simple and elegant, but it is still business. I think it is okay for business to business and vendors, but more personal to sellers and buyers, I think I will start collecting personal stationery again :)

Sep 16, 2013 06:32 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Craig, I send hand-written notes and they do make a difference. Everyone likes to get a note for no reason. It keeps me connected.

Oct 14, 2013 01:02 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I'm thinking to send a handwritten thank you note to my asset manager, why not?:)

I love sending a cards to others.

Jun 30, 2014 05:50 PM