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2011-09-19 21:33:46

Looking for Free Leads?

 

In the last two Zebra Reports I talked about a topic near and dear to my heart – lead generation.

I even shared some of the methods of lead generation that are tried and true – such as open houses, working expired listings, or pursuing FSBOs.

All of those methods are great – and they DO work!

But I want to talk today about a venue for lead generation that is a little scary to some of you … and that’s “social media marketing” or “social networking”.

Social media is a term that gets tossed around a lot, and it means different things to different people.  Simply put, social media involves electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information and ideas.  There are more social media sites than you can image on the internet – and more are added every day!

Not a day goes by in my consulting business that I’m not asked whether it’s possible to generate real estate leads through social networking.  Real estate agents who may be feeling the financial pinch of the last two years are anxious to find inexpensive ways to create opportunities for their business.  And they’re turning to social media.

If you think the jury’s still out on social media and its effectiveness in generating leads, think again!  There’s no question that you can leverage the power of social media in your business.  But you must follow many of the same principles that apply to “traditional” lead generation.

Lead generation via social media requires consistency, diligence, and persistence.  Just as you wouldn’t expect someone to become a client after receiving your newsletter once in the mail, don’t think that everyone you engage with online will beat a path to your door.  It’s going to require a consistent stream of quality communication from you to make that happen.

You’re also going to have to spend a little time to determine which social media outlet is the best fit for you and your business (pssst – stay tuned for next week’s Zebra Report, where I’ll get you started by providing some information on three of the biggies – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

What I love about social media is the opportunity to connect you with so many other people in the blink of an eye.  However, simply finding people and connecting with them is not enough.  You must be sincere.  You must add value to the discussion.  And you must contribute in a meaningful way so that these nebulous connections want to continue the discussion with you “offline”.

While the online engagement should be the start of communication, for you to garner business from social media it has to go farther than that.  Getting great marketing materials to – or meeting live with – a potential client is the next logical step toward parlaying a connection into closed business.

I know that you’re all looking for inexpensive ways to generate business, but it’s important to remember this: while most social media sites don’t charge for participation, you still need to invest money in your business so that you have the top-quality, professional materials to share with a client once you move from “online” to “offline”.  This is especially important when you’ve first made a connection online, and a potential client hasn’t had an opportunity to “see your stuff”.  Even more importantly, don’t underestimate the value of your time.  If you’re spending hours and hours online trying to generate business, but you’re not getting results, I believe you are losing money.  It’s easy to forget that your time has value, especially if your business is slower than you would like.  Don’t fall into the trap of trading your valuable time for few results – and that applies to “offline” lead generation too!

Although it will evolve over time, social media marketing and networking is here to stay.  Social media provides unparalleled opportunities for you to begin to connect with potential clients in a very inexpensive way.  Just remember: to leverage the efforts you put in to social networking, be sure that the work you put in on the front end is coupled with sincerity and value, and followed up with great materials that showcase your value as a real estate agent.

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