Reducing the risk of being targeted
The first step in preventing being a victim of a crime is eliminating as many “attractors” as possible. That being said, a big part of marketing yourself as a real estate agent is making yourself and your picture as prominent as possible. This section is about how to still market yourself, but make minor changes that remove as many “attractors” as possible.
Images are an important part of marketing yourself and your listings, however they are also often the item that starts the targeting process. Your professional photos can act as an attractor for both the power motive and the profit motive.
To reduce the risk of being targeted by those with a power motive:
Avoid full body pictures
- Wherever possible use photos that are above or right at the shoulders
- When using pictures that include the upper body:
- Be professional
- Wear a shirt that goes no lower than the top of the breast bone.
- Don’t wear anything form fitting
- Wear professional colors
- Wear a jacket where possible
- Be aware of facial expressions
- Professional, authoritative smile and expression – We smile differently towards a client than we do towards a loved one. A professional smile is a facial expression that establishes a “boundary”, whereas a personal smile is a facial expression that is softer, warmer, and conveys vulnerability.
- Look straight into the camera
- Keep your head vertical, no tilt to one side or another
- Professional Eyes (relaxed and fully open, but not “strained open” as if you are surprised)
- For women, your make-up should be natural and understated.
To reduce the risk of being targeted by those with a profit motive:
- Avoid pictures that depict you withan expensive vehicle
- Avoid jewelry if possible
- Jewelry should be minimal and understated
- Wedding rings visible in photos should be a simple wedding band.
Setting Expectations in your marketing
The words you use in your marketing messages have connotations, which is to say that they have emotional value over and above the literal meaning. Those who commit crimes with a power motive are attracted to subservience and weakness because the “power high” is what they seek. Those who commit crimes with a profit motive are also attracted to subservience and weakness because it represents lower risk.
In your marketing choose words that convey power, control, knowledge, authority, etc… For example:
“Here to serve all your real estate needs”
“Experience to handle the entire real estate process”
Notice that the first statement implies servitude, whereas the second statement implies confidence and power.
Information to avoid in marketing
Earlier we mentioned that stalking behaviors give a predator a “high”; in addition to potentially planning an attack. Consequently, you’ll want to ensure that information you include in your marketing does not “feed the stalking high” or help a predator plan an attack in the event that someone does fixate and target you. By limiting the “high” a predator can achieve through online stalking will increase the likleihood that he or she will lose interest.
Avoid including the following information:
- Whether or not you have children
- The neighborhood you live in - For Example: Avoid “I’m the expert in the Hills Subdivision, I’ve lived here for years”; Instead use “I’m the expert in the Hills Subdivision, I’ve lived in the area for years”.
- Pictures of your family
- Your favorite places (restaurant, club, exercise, store, etc…)
- Specific PUBLIC networking groups to which you belong
- Specific neighborhood or school groups to which you belong
In today’s day and age social media is an important marketing tool for the real estate agent. Unfortunately, it is also an important tool for predators and those who stalk. Remember, if you catch the attention of a predatory or obsessive individual, your best chance of having them lose their interest is to give them little or no material of interest to them.
Social Media Do’s
- Have separate personal and professional pages
- Eliminate or Abbreviate your last name on your personal pages
- Use different images on your personal and professional pages
- Periodically, use Google© to search for yourself to see how difficult it is to find your personal pages
- Use the social media site’s security to help ensure your personal site information is hidden to all who are not your direct friend or contact
Social Media Don’ts
- Don’t use location tracking
- Don’t post your habits (i.e. “I love this coffee shop, I come here every day”)
- Don’t post information that could be used to identify your children’s school, spouse’s workplace, etc….