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Fierce competition within the current real estate market has proven that building a brand is an ongoing investment of time and energy. Strategic thinking and progressive ideas are just a few of the top qualities an agent of the future will possess. They are also the driving forces behind a profitable business.

With a shift from traditional to online marketing and a consumer who spends 88 percent of the home-buying process researching homes online, an agent who looks progressively toward the future is presented with an exceptional opportunity.

These forward-thinking agents will be well equipped to expand their brand by strategically identifying their target markets, creating a unique experience for the consumer, identifying and strengthening their positions within their own markets and consistently monitoring and managing the image and online reputation of their personal brands.

How to Position Yourself as the Agent of the Future

1. Embrace Technology

The agent of the future leverages both traditional and social media marketing to boost his/her visibility and increase personal brand awareness.

Neglecting your online presence could equal a lost opportunity. Take 30 minutes to analyze each of your online profiles.

• If you already have a social media presence, begin by logging into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your website, blog and any other accounts a client could stumble upon. Update your contact information, bio, picture and social links.

• If you’re a beginner, create a LinkedIn account with your professional resumé, including achievements and awards. Add Facebook once you have content to pass along to your sphere of influence. Then layer in Twitter to create a consistent voice across all channels.

• Prominently place all social channels on your website and blog. Do not make the consumer hunt you down.

2. Be a Valuable Resource

Answer questions, provide tips and offer a consistent item of value that is germane to your readership. Listen to your readers and suggest unique solutions to their problems. This will build trust and establish your credibility as the go-to authority within your market and community.

3. Plan for the Future

Create tangible and measurable goals that are tracked on a weekly basis. Career growth and personal development are achieved through a consistent commitment to stretching beyond the comfort of your current habits.

Without goals, we will naturally settle into the routine of daily life rather than leaping toward the next milestone.

4. Share and Connect

The agents of the future interact with like-minded professionals on a daily basis to share and generously give their time, knowledge and energy. They openly encourage other professionals within their sphere to collaborate and adapt their top strategies. They are well aware that there is no limit to potential when we give freely without expectation or anticipation of receiving anything in return.

5. Be a Trusted Advisor

If you love what you do, it should be reflected in your actions as well as your spoken and written words. Agents of the future empower consumers to connect with them in person and online. They become a trusted advisor by building relationships over time. You can be a beacon of truth without getting bogged down in the negativity swirling around current market conditions.

Sherry Chris is president & CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC.