Category Archives: self-promotion

How to Be Sure Prospects Can Find You

Recently, Chicago real estate professional Andrea Geller wrote about her frustration at trying to find the contact information of an agent in another state to whom she was referring one of her clients.   She wanted to learn something about that agent and maybe even talk to them before passing her client along.  But that out-of-state agent couldn’t be found on Google.   In fact, it took Andrea a good bit of work to find a direct link to that agent on the Internet.

What if a consumer or another agent were trying to find you?  What would they get if they googled your name? How much searching would they have to do on the Internet before they found your contact information?  And if someone did contact you based on an Internet search, how long would it take you to answer?

Here are the five minimum things you should do to make sure prospects and colleagues can find you with ease:

  1. Have a LinkedIn profile.  Your LinkedIn profile serves as an online résumé that will come up whenever anybody googles you name.
  2. Have a Google profile. Google also lets you create a profile, in which you can write a description of yourself, upload photos, and provide links to other applications you use on the Web.
  3. Be on Facebook. A Facebook Fan Page is ideal because it lets you keep your friends and family separate from your professional image, and because the person looking for you wouldn’t have to have a Facebook account to find you.
  4. Check Your Broker’s Site. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and up to date on your broker’s website.  If you can’t control what’s on your broker’s site, get your own website.
  5. Have Your Own Website.  Even if you do have input regarding what appears on your broker’s site, you should have your own website.  On your own website, you can express our individuality, show your professionalism, and demonstrate how you differ from your colleagues.  A blog is even better than a static website because it allows you to easily update the site’s content.

There is more you can do.  But if you can’t find yourself when you google your name, start with these.

Restructure Your LinkedIn Résumé

Ever wished you could move the items around in your LinkedIn profile?  Have you ever wanted to, say, de-emphasis your education by moving it toward the end of your profile or highlight your professional summary by moving it closer to the top? Well now you can.

LinkedIn’s new feature is great for real estate professionals who often come to the industry from other careers.  If you were, for example, a teacher or a stay-at-home parent before getting your license, you don’t have to put that upfront, especially if you’ve long since made a name for yourself in real estate.

The new feature is easy to use and lets you use your LinkedIn profile more like a functional résumé, highlighting the aspects of your background that work best for you.  To find out how it works, click the image or visit the LinkedIn blog.

How to Use Social Media for Self-Promotion

It’s almost impossible to be successful in any field of endeavor without promoting yourself.  Yet, in Western culture, at least, egregious self-promotion is considered taboo.  This is especially true in social networking where the best way to create a negative image is to shamelessly and inappropriately call attention to yourself.

You’ve seen people who do this.  They write comments on other people’s blog posts, but the comments have nothing to do with that blog; the comments are about them with a link to their stuff.  Or, they invite you to connect with them and soon you’re deluged with messages about them, their product, their next seminar, or whatever it happens to be.

These people are boors.  Like the guy at the party who corners you and won’t stop talking about himself, you always want to get away from them.  And of course, you don’t want to be like them.

So how can you use social media for self-promotion without coming across as offensive?  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Never Use Someone Else’s Platform To Advance Your Cause. Recall how shockingly rude Kanye West appeared when he stole the mic from another artist during an awards ceremony to promote his own agenda.  Never try to promote yourself on a site that’s about something else and never try to call attention to yourself in the comment section of someone else’s blog.
  2. Promote Yourself by Promoting Others. Find people in your network whose work you admire or who are doing things that are laudable and talk about them.  When you promote others, people notice you too.
  3. Be Humble. Give lots of praise to others. Take little for yourself.
  4. Take an Interested in Others. When you’re genuinely interested in other people, they will be interested in you.  Don’t beat people over the head with messages about what you can do for them.  Instead, get to know them.  Ask about what they do.  Invite them to talk about their projects or what’s going on in their lives.  Rejoice in their successes.  Empathize with their challenges.
  5. Help Your Contacts Find Clients. If people in your network are in business, ask them what they’re looking for in a customer, then introduce them to people in your network who meet that profile.  The contacts you help in this way will always be on the lookout for ways to return the favor.
  6. Introduce Your Friends to One Another. If there are people in your network who have much in common or who would certainly become friends, introduce them to each other or arrange a get-together.  As their relationship grows, both parties will remember you fondly.
  7. Be Subtle with Blogging. Blogging is one of the best ways to subtly make people aware of what you know or what you can do.  When you publish articles in your area of expertise week in and week out, people come to understand how knowledgeable you are without you having to explicitly say so.
  8. Bring People Together with Blogging, Wikis or Other Interactive Sites. The most successful sites bring people with similar interests together by inviting them to write articles and make comments.  All of the people who participate on your site will see you as the expert because you made the venue available and you moderate the discussion.
  9. Beware of Spamming People. Self-promotion can easily cross the line and become spam.  When you want to let people know about a new project or a success, send out one or two messages and let it go at that.  Never bombard your contacts with constant or repetitive messages about what you’re doing.  It’s the best way to get people to disconnect and start ignoring you.

What else would you add?

How to Hone Your Online Image

If you use social media to promote yourself or to attract and engage prospective customers, your blog posts and status updates gives friends and prospects a glimpse of what kind of professional you might be if they were to hire you.  So every post should be well thought-out and critically evaluated before you press that enter button.

Readers have a limited amount of time and because there’s so much content online, they have to pick and choose.  Why should they follow you rather than someone else?

Therefore, before you post, consider the following:

Value.  Is this message important?  Does it impart value to the reader? Does it answer a question or solve a problem for them?  Does it give them information they don’t already have?  Better yet, does it give them information they can’t get anywhere else?  Does it make them want to comment or answer back?  Does it make them want to save your message or share it with someone else?  By reading it, will they see you as someone who adds genuine value and is worth doing business with?

Viewpoint.  Let’s face it, everything you post is not meant to be a learning experience.  Sometimes your status updates will be insightful or personal.  So the question is, do you present a unique point of view?  Will friends and followers relish your posts for your good humor or your unusual take on the day’s topic?  Do you possess an outlook that sets you apart?  Are your messages worth reading because each contains a special little bit of you?

Verve.  Finally, are you exciting, energetic, entertaining?  Do you move people emotionally or spiritually?  Do your messages uplift?  Do they make people laugh or at least smile?  Do they make people think?  Does the information on your site or its very design convey something that grabs people? Will this post make people want to read more? Will readers feel like they’re missing out if they don’t subscribe or check back another time?  What is it about this post that will make readers want to come back again and again?

Certainly, everything you post is not going to meet all of these criteria every single time.  Your aim, however, should be to gradually, through a series of posts, shape the image your readers have of you.

Keep in mind that the words and images you post become you, especially for people who’ve never met you.  So craft your online image with care.

The Zen of Twitter Success

Twitter offers an amazing potential to grow your sphere of influence and to engage friends and former clients.  But success on Twitter requires us to do things that are counterintuitive.

Whenever we get involved in anything new, we naturally tend to look for what’s in it for us and how we can benefit personally.  But to be successful on Twitter, you must turn that kind of thinking around.

Here are four “upside down” ways to think about how to use Twitter to grow your business:

  1. Give to GetTwitter works best if you give things away.  The most successful people on Twitter share ideas and information all the time.  People will follow you if they think you have something to offer, so use Twitter to pass along news or tips your followers can use.
  2. Give Credit to Other People. Don’t tweet about yourself. If you really want to get people noticing you, use Twitter to call attention to others.  Respond to other people’s tweets.  Retweet valuable information that someone else has already tweeted and, of course, give them the credit.  Send out tweets that highlight and link to other people’s blog posts.  Use #FollowFriday to herald the work of others.
  3. Pay Attention to Others.  Spend time focusing on your followers—especially those you don’t know.  For example, select one of your followers each day to spotlight.  Visit that person’s website or blog.  Pay attention for the entire day to their Twitter stream.  Write or tweet about something that person is doing.
  4. Cherish Low Numbers. Many people on Twitter are on a mission to get lots of followers.  But having a small number of dedicated followers can be an advantage.  As Caron-Jane Lyon writes in her blog, when she had only 90-something followers, she was able to interact on a more personal level with each of them.  Having a small group allowed her to build alliances and personal friendships with them, something that’s tough to do when your Twitter numbers are large.

Gotta Get a Gravatar

gravatar websiteFor agents, blogging is about developing name recognition and establishing yourself as an expert, as someone consumers would want to go to when they were ready to buy or sell a home.  One secret to building your name recognition on the Internet is to comment on other people’s blogs.

But when you leave comments on someone else’s blog, you’ll also want to be able to post a photo of yourself for instant brand and name recognition.  That’s where gravatars (and avatars) come in.

An avatar is a graphic representation of yourself that’s posted on the Internet.  Most social networking sites encourage you to upload a photo or some other image (i.e., an avatar) that will represent you on that site.  Avatars are useful because human beings spot and remember visual cues; we often recognize someone’s face, for example, when we can’t remember their name.  Therefore, when you leave a comment on another person’s blog, it’s better for your name recognition if there’s a photo along with that comment.  In fact, notice below how much more appealing it is when comment writers have an avatar rather than an empty box next to their name.

CommentsA gravatar is a “generally recognized avatar”.  Gravatars allow you to easily post the same photo as you comment on sites around the web.  Without gravatars, if you wanted an image with your comment, you’d have to upload a photo every time you posted a comment on someone’s blog.  But a gravatar is universal.  You create it one time and thereafter, each time you post a comment, the same picture is placed automatically.  And placing the same picture over and over again on the web is great for your name recognition.

Gravatars work on thousands of websites around the Internet.  It’s easy to create one—and it’s free. To get started, go to www.gravatar.com.  Watch the video and then create yours.

Establish Your Identity with Google Profiles

Google ProfileGoogle Profile lets you establish your identity on Google.  That’s a good thing, of course, when you want people to be able to find you.

Without a Google Profile, when someone googles your name, they might find you, but they might also find others with the same name as you.  That’s what happens, for example when I google my own name.  I’m there, but so is the Saundra Washington who is a minister living in Florida and who does work in the area of grief counseling.

But once I create a Google Profile, it appears at the bottom of the search page any time someone looks for me on Google.  My picture is there accompanied by a snippet of the biographical information I’ve provided.  Google users can click my name to see my full biography along with pictures and links I’ve included.  In other words, they get to see the me that I want them to see.

Example Google ProfileUp to four profiles will appear at one time (presumably the more complete your profile is, the more likely it will appear during a search), but currently so few people are using Google Profiles that, unless you have a very common name, your profile is likely to show.

To get started creating your Google Profile, go to www.google.com/profiles and follow the easy instructions to enter your information.  It only takes a few moments and your profile will start showing up immediately.