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Online Profiles: Pain or Gain?

08/26/2014
Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, CRE advice blog, CRE Tips

This is a topic that can either make your skin crawl or help you grow your career. It is really up to you! If you have no plan on how to portray yourself online, it can truly be a pain. But, if you craft a plan and a system, having an online profile on multiple platforms can be a huge gain.

A little history about this topic is very important.

Back in the day, nobody knew you unless you physically met them in person or received your paper resume or a business card. It was a painful and slow-going process. For the most part, executives, brokers, leasing agents and managers did not market themselves, except when promoting a property or maybe their company. In the case of commercial real estate, the only marketing going on was when a deal closed or an assignment was landed. As a person, you were generally hidden behind a transaction. When that happened, you would be lucky if your company generated a press release, which might get you some exposure. In addition, the company would normally only market the company brand, and that was not so good for you either. Most commercial real estate companies couldn’t even afford a single and exclusive team to market their brand, let alone their team. In the past, these marketing opportunities were cost prohibitive and not really feasible. So basically, only the large firms could have a marketing department or press release system and only the significant deals or client transactions were given exposure, or no exposure was given at all.

So now to today.

Everything has totally changed, including the ability to have an online presence AND press release distribution! Small to medium companies, and even individual people, can actually market their own profiles, brands and deals. Now - here comes today’s pain. The pain comes into play because we just are not accustomed to marketing ourselves! Period. We’ve never had to do it before, so we just do not know how to do it right. In other words, we are all a hot mess, myself included!

So, what does all of this mean to you? It means that you have an incredible opportunity to mass distribute your image, brand, name and credentials on many different platforms, which reach an exponential volume of people. This has never been possible before now!

Additionally, everything is now connected and linkable. This is something that was never possible before, either. The pains we’re experiencing now are growing pains, which have sprung up as a result of not knowing how to tackle these newfound tools and not knowing how to link everything together. We’re all just fumbling and bumbling our way through it. We join a website or add a listing and leave a wake of “No Photo” or “No Logo” or “No Image” or worse, the dreaded blanks. Once we leave the site, we pay no heed to the URL we created or the log in credentials. We are just disorganized and not thoroughly planning what exactly it is that we’re doing!

We think we’re really smart, saving time and doing a bang up job, but in reality we are leaving the viewers of our content uninspired and unimpressed. Please know that I am the biggest believer in doing what is most important and not wasting time. Wasting time is not an option, coupled with spending money that you do not need to spend. But, if you get your act together and make your marketing of yourself part of your job, really, really a part, it’s not so bad.

Here come the tools, but how do you tackle the process?

My approach would be to take time out and really review who you are, what you do, and who loves you (testimonials).  Review your list of accomplishments (closed deals, etc.) and think about what are the hot buttons (aka keywords) about YOU! Really give yourself some quality time and think this through. Do not do it off the top of your head. Take inventory of yourself, your company, your image files, your online URLs and in some cases, documents. Scan all of this stuff into digital format, if possible. Always use .jpg, .png and/or .pdf. Find letters of recommendation, or certificates or whatever you have and start a “Profile and Portfolio” folder. Now be sure to store all of these goodies in one single place! If you are super disorganized and cannot find a shred of evidence, no worries, start fresh today! No excuses here.

Be Master of Your Domain, Really!
Now establish a ground zero for your profile content. Create a core location where all of this information will live and where it always starts. It can be an MS Word doc, Google doc, Linkedin, theBrokerList, LoopNet, or any other place that can serve as a home. The most important thing is that it’s not 10 places, but just one place. What I mean is that this single place is ALWAYS the accurate online location that becomes the hub from which all of your content comes from. Make that one place the “masterpiece of you.” Do the best job you can focusing in on this centralized location for your content and make it the most thorough, most inclusive place that it can be.

Rocking and Rolling

So, now you decide to do some marketing of yourself and you find a great site to join. Awesome, just go back to your “masterpiece of you” location and grab what works. The issue with different sites is that they ask for different things and they also ask for different sizes and characters. So, if the character limit is too restrictive, you can cut and paste the “minipitch” vs. “pitch” which is code word for short bio or long bio. You get the drift.

Do Not Use It and Lose It

Now, you need to keep track and keep this stuff updated or do not sign up and do not use it in the first place. As the founder of theBrokerList, my pet peeve is people who join our site and do not tell the audience what they do, how they do it or where they do it. It’s really a waste of everybody’s time. People will call us desperate to find a commercial real estate professional in a certain area with a certain expertise, but our members with corresponding credentials aren’t appearing in their search. Why? Because these real estate “professionals” have not clicked the boxes or filled in the information. It makes our site look bad, and it also makes our industry look bad. There are no CRE people who know a certain expertise? How can that be? People really need help to find the right professional out there for their special need. If you have the talent, but keep it a secret, what is the point? People use search today for everything. The first place they look is online, therefore, we need to get better at this stuff people! Please do not take the set it and forget it attitude, as that reflects poorly on your business habits. Leaving things incomplete and unfinished is unprofessional to me, as we are talking about marketing here and that is allegedly what we all purport to do for clients. If we are not able to truly market our own profile, how can we market our way out of paper bag? Keep reading.

Bonus: A real tool to guide you.

For this first part of my series on profiles, I have created a “15 Online Profile Ingredients” so you can download it and use it as a guideline. Once that step is complete, you are really ready to make sure your online profiles make sense. Please do not tell me about your company, tell me about you! Once this is done, meet me back here for the next post where we will talk about some places where best to post all of your beautiful work on your new profile and how to really post it effectively and create a “masterpiece about YOU”!

See you next time!

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By: Linda Day Harrison

Founder | theBrokerList

Check out Linda's Masterpiece Page Here: http://bit.ly/1zyfrOJ

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