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Commentary by Rudy Bachraty

RISMEDIA, June 17, 2008-Online networking can be an extremely effective way to build your sales pipeline. However, many agents and brokers have yet to take advantage of the viral marketing that social communities can provide. Why?

A few common myths deter many professionals from joining their online peers, and consequently put them behind the competition. Here are three reasons people tell us that they’re not networking online, and the truth behind the statements.

1. “I can’t afford to spend all day chatting online.”

You’re right, but that’s not what social networking is about. It’s about connecting with people and building relationships in a non-salesy way.

Successful involvement in an online community should result in expanding your marketing reach even when you’re not online. Creating dynamic and detailed profiles on social networking sites like Facebook, Yelp and LinkedIn helps consumers find your information and then keeps them coming back.

Consider it your virtual billboard. Readers get to know you and can leave you messages, forward your profile to friends, or click on a link redirecting them to your website. Creating an initial profile on Trulia and most other sites takes less than two minutes. Then, by spending about an hour each week building out your profile, responding to new messages, updating your status and adding new content like listings, sold properties and testimonials, you can create a presence that will keep your network’s interest.

Mario Pinedo, an investment real estate agent in Silicon Valley, has received about $100,000 in revenues by communicating with buyers and sellers in his area on Trulia Voices (www.trulia-blog.com/?=p364). Successful online networking helped him turn new online contacts into offline clients. A better argument may be, you can’t afford not to network online.

2. “I don’t know how to blog.”

That might be a good thing. Beginning online networking by creating your own blog is like entering a marathon before running a mile in training-it could be rewarding, but more likely, will cause a lot of pain. Real estate communities can help you connect directly with buyers and sellers to share your local expertise without having to create, maintain and drive traffic to your own blog.

Instead, let existing sites attract consumers and provide the community for you. Find popular industry blogs and social networking communities that interest you and read them first. When you’re more familiar with the unique culture of each community, jump in and join the conversation by commenting on them. Then decide if you’re ready to create and foster your own blog community.

3. “I already advertise in the newspaper.”

Newspaper advertising was once an effective means of marketing, but with circulations declining and new generations of consumers searching for information online, print advertising is becoming increasingly ineffective.

In addition, it’s expensive and difficult to track the return. You can’t beat the price of marketing through social networks (free!), and no-cost tools like Google Analytics can show you exactly which networks send the most consumers to your site. That way you can focus your efforts on the sites that give you the best return.

Online networking can help you reach more people with less cost, all while building trust-and that’s what effective marketing should do. We look forward to seeing you online…no excuses!

Rudy Bachraty is a social media guru for Trulia.

For more information, visit www.trulia.com.

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