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By Ralph Roberts

RISMEDIA, June 19, 2007-“You are only as good as the people you meet, the books you read, and the tapes you listen to.” — Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

The pace of change both in the world and in the real estate industry is rapidly accelerating. Technology is streamlining operations, transforming neighborhoods into global communities, and enabling real estate agents to go mobile. You can now vacation on the French Riviera while following up with clients in Colorado. In addition, real estate is becoming more of a team sport, empowering agent teams to increase efficiency and boost both productivity and profits.

To thrive in this world of ever-increasing change, you have to keep up with the latest information and technology. You must constantly educate yourself in order to adapt and take advantage of new tools and opportunities that change delivers to your doorstep. You must become a lifelong learner.

Yet, when I talk to agents, I hear all too frequently that they just “don’t have the time to keep up.” I know agents who subscribe to RISMedia’s Power Team Report and Power Broker Network Report and don’t even take the time to read these valuable publications-publications that could ultimately save them tons more time than is required to read the articles!

Some agents refuse to attend industry conferences, falsely assuming that they are a big waste of time and resources. Many agents won’t even crack open a book to learn a new sales or marketing technique or listen to a book on tape or CD. All of these agents are losing out big-time-in time, profits, and personal fulfillment.

Becoming a lifelong learner means plugging yourself into the industry grapevine. Here are some suggestions on how to do just that:

– Attend at least one real estate conference every year. You can usually find one or two valuable sessions or speakers, and even if you don’t, the networking opportunities alone make the investment well worth it.
– Read several articles a day on industry-related topics that interest you. Go to Google News, click “News Alerts” in the left navigation bar, and set up news alerts to have Google automatically notify you about late-breaking news on topics of interest. (Enter very specific search instructions, so you are not inundated with articles that do not interest you.) You need to know what’s happening in your industry as well as in your market. I spend about an hour every morning checking and reading my Google News Alerts stories.
– Pick up a book about selling or any real estate topic that interests you and start reading. You can find plenty of great books on the market that reveal new techniques you may never have discovered on your own and can teach you new skills.
– Listen to tapes, CDs, or podcasts from the top salespeople, real estate professionals, and motivational speakers. If you usually listen to music as you’re driving to meet clients, consider listening to something that’s a little more educational.
– Take classes and obtain certifications. Taking a class can help motivate you and hold you accountable for learning the information. You can take classes on real estate and mortgage fraud, listing homes, representing buyers, or a host of other topics. Get certified in a particular area and you obtain instant credibility.
– Learn new technologies. Spend time learning how to make optimum use of your computer and the software installed on it. Explore your software’s help systems, read a book, or take a class to learn how to boost productivity with features you may not even be aware of. Focus your efforts on learning more about Internet marketing through Web sites and blogs.
– Connect with a mentor or coach. One of the best ways to learn fast is to connect with a top producer. Consider shadowing a real estate professional whom you admire or asking the person to act as your mentor or coach. Success leaves big footprints. Follow them.

I know, I am probably preaching to the choir. The fact that you are reading this is proof that you are part of the minority of agents who actually care enough about your profession to study up on it. Others in our field, perhaps even some of your closest colleagues haven’t gotten the memo. Do them a favor. Send the link to this article to 10 of your colleagues who need it most and cc me when you do it. Working together, we might just be able to convince our colleagues to take at least one step toward improving their future.

Ralph R. Roberts, official spokesperson for Guthy-Renker Home and author of Flipping Houses For Dummies and Foreclosure Investing For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons), can be contacted at 586.751.0000, or by e-mail at To learn more about Ralph, investing in real estate, and protecting yourself against real estate and mortgage fraud, visit