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Your overall success is a direct result of your ability to network and generate leads. The more leads you bring in, the more people you talk to and the more sales opportunities you will create. The key is to proactively connect with the right people and then follow up consistently. Consistency builds trust and establishes you as the go-to professional within your market.

Lead generation is not a task for the faint of heart. It is a daily commitment that can include cold calls, drip email campaigns, direct mail, search engine optimization and more.

Finding leads is only the first step. Gaining and then retaining those leads requires you to put detailed measures in place to stay in front of prospects by offering knowledgeable advice in an easy to receive format.

So where do you begin? Identify your strengths and what it is you have to offer that your target audience finds valuable. In real estate, that could be a multitude of things. The niche in which you specialize, your long standing history within the community or your stellar sales team that offers unsurpassed customer service and support.

Recognize what sets you apart and then work to capitalize on that through four simple strategies to not only gain new leads, but retain them as clients.

1. Your Website and Blog

Your website and blog can be an excellent way to capture the attention of lookie-loos, turn them into leads and eventually clients. There are several ways you can ask visitors to take action:

• Place widgets in the sidebar with a free giveaway and a clear call to action. Examples would be a webinar or seminar, free e-book or a subscription to your newsletter.

• Include a chat widget that provides an easy way for leads to connect with you at the exact moment they are online.

• Add the Facebook “Like” Box to your website, and display your latest posts allowing visitors to LIKE your page without leaving your website.

The purpose of this method is to provide incoming leads a way to get to know you and your business while educating them on how you can assist in their home buying/selling process. This also supplies you with a means to collect their contact information so you can continue to communicate with them and build a relationship. However, you must add an “opt-in” mechanism. Consumers must check the box that says they want to hear more from you, i.e. subscribe to your newsletters. Once they have opted-in to hear from you, you can add them to your database and a drip marketing campaign so that when the time does come and they’re ready to buy or sell, your name will be at the top of their list.

2. Start a Neighborhood Page

Create a Facebook page dedicated to a particular neighborhood or community. This idea takes the old marketing tactic of prospecting to a whole new level! Rather than sending drip emails or postcards, create a page on Facebook that caters to one specific group of people. This type of lead generation works best if you live within the area and are looking to establish yourself as the area expert.

How to Use the Page:

• Shoot video around the neighborhood displaying unique attributes
• Talk about upcoming events and ask neighbors to post pictures after the fact
• Talk about homes that are on the market and discuss property values within the community
• Throw a housewarming party for homes you sell within the neighborhood and promote it on your community site inviting neighbors to join in as welcoming committee
• Talk about community concerns in a positive light and ask for feedback on how to solve the challenge

3. Word of Mouth

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the least expensive, but most effective forms of marketing. While many of our lead generation tools and methods may have changed due to the Internet and social media, this concept remains the same. Connect with people who know, like and trust you. Continue to provide value and eventually they will become advocates on your behalf.

Third party word-of mouth referrals add instant credibility to your business. They also bring you back to the core of real estate marketing by tapping into your sphere of influence. This is a basic foundational pillar that should be included in any real estate professionals marketing plan.

4. Get Online & Network

Just like in-person networking events, networking amongst your peers and other professionals online will help you:

• Build your personal brand
• Establish yourself as the local expert
• Generate referrals from others around the country

Real estate is more than listings and commissions; it’s about relationships and allowing others to get to know who you really are. Interact with professionals across the country by commenting on their blogs, sharing on Facebook, retweeting a relevant link to your community on Twitter or saying congrats when you see a change in status on LinkedIn.

Show anyone you come in contact with why you love where you live and what they can look forward to when working with you.

Last but Not Least: Be Patient!

The downside to any lead generation strategy is that it takes time and work. It could be months before you see the fruits of your labor, so make sure you pick an idea you enjoy and believe in. If you don’t like being online; creating a blog, website or Facebook campaign will only frustrate and eventually defeat you.

The upside is the exponential growth you can see within your business if you manage your leads correctly. Remember that anything worth your time and energy will require sacrifice. Be willing to go the extra mile for your leads and the systems you put in place.

For more information or to read this article on Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate blog, “Clean Slate,” visit http://bhgrealestateblog.com/.

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