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RISMEDIA, February 3, 2011—Thanks to social networking, I can connect with old friends, stay up-to-date with family members and, as a father, keep tabs on what my teenagers are up to. Of course, as an agent, I can also stay in touch with my past clients. For all of those reasons and more, social media is wonderful. But the important question that every real estate agent is asking is: “How can it help me make more money in my business?”

The idea of inviting someone to keep in touch on a regular basis (and actually have them give you permission to do so) is something that we have never had before. As real estate professionals, that whole concept is simply incredible and apparently agents have figured that out. As I poll my audiences across North America, I am surprised at how many agents and brokers have a Facebook account. According to my unscientific research, about 75% of real estate professionals have signed up on Facebook. That’s a big number!

The obvious follow-up question then is, “How many have closed at least one transaction as a result of their participation in social media?” I find their answer to be equally surprising: Less than 1%! This leaves me to wonder why there has been such a huge movement by agents toward an apparently ineffective technology? Why isn’t it working to generate more business? Let’s take a closer look.

In my opinion, the key to having a successful social media strategy is to do just that: develop a social media strategy, a specific plan as to what you want to accomplish and a daily action plan to not only connect with people, but to convert those relationships into business. Here are a few simple steps to help convert more connections into real business:

1. Think about and write down your social media strategy. Be specific, set goals and break those goals down into manageable daily tasks, and decide how much time you will spend on your social media sites daily—then stick to your plan.

2. Be thoughtful and authentic in your posts. Ask yourself if your connections will see real value in your comments. Your posts should absolutely not be all about real estate; as a matter of fact, balance is the key. I like to use the “FORD” method of posting: 25% of your posts should be about Family; 25%, Occupation (that’s your business); 25%, Recreation; and 25% about your Dreams.

3. Listen more than you speak. Social networking is amazing because your clients and other relationships will tell the world what is happening in their lives. Some of the things we can learn from our social websites include:

-If someone has started a new job or was promoted at work
-If there has been a job loss and someone is looking for work
-When a family is expanding because of a new baby
-If a person is engaged to be married
-A change in marital status due to a loss of a loved one or divorce
-Someone being relocated, moving in or out of your area

All of this information can lead to the need to buy or sell a home. If you are paying attention to the conversations that are happening, you will find an enormous amount of information that will help you convert more business.

4. Manage your social reputation. This is critical because, for the most part, once it is online it stays online. One easy way to monitor your social reputation is to set up Google Alerts to notify you when someone uses your name or brand; Google Alerts is simple and free.

Social media is powerful and its potential for growing your business in real, tangible ways is undeniable. If you implement a strategy and consciously execute on that strategy, social media can and will make a big difference in your business and career. And you’ll find yourself the toast of the party!

A founding partner of Pinnacle Quest Consulting, Verl Workman has been educating, motivating and training sales associates, entrepreneurs, and real estate agents worldwide for more than 20 years. For more information, please visit