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In my humble opinion, social media is a beautiful vehicle for staying front of mind with consumers and keeping in touch with the people you care about. The problem is, so many agents think they can stop prospecting because social networking is now possible. However, that’s simply not the case. In the past 12 months, I can attribute over $1 million in sold real estate in my business specifically to Facebook, but the majority of my business still came from good, old-fashioned marketing methods.

I was talking to Bill Scott, senior vice president of a successful real estate company, recently about a topic for an upcoming event at which I was asked to speak and he came up with “poke, buzz, tweet…but don’t forget to call and meet.” That became the topic for my speech and a very successful series of events. The second half of that phrase is exactly how I feel about social media: “Don’t forget to call and meet.”

As I work with more and more Top 5 agents around the country, many tell me that as much as 75 percent of their business comes from repeat and referral business. That is a huge number! They feel social media is important, but not as important as a good, old-fashioned lunch appointment, phone call or even stopping by a prospect’s work or home for a quick visit. That in-person touch screams professionalism and sets them apart from the masses who believe a simple “thumbs up” on Facebook is enough to call it a day. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, but when I talk to brokers and managers that are frustrated when they see their agents on Facebook under the pretense that they are prospecting, I certainly understand their concern.

Legendary sales trainer Tom Hopkins often drew a diagram on the whiteboard that looked like two bellies touching each other that he called the Secret to Sales Success. Its meaning was simple: “See 20 prospects each day, belly to belly.” Relationships that are built on trust and a foundation of common interests are real and have the ability to generate more business than any other activity. Social media sites do a great job at keeping relationships going after a personal meeting, but will never replace the importance of face-to-face interaction.

If you are going to be successful with social networking, here are a few ideas that will help you manage your time and effort more efficiently:

• Have a plan. Write down in advance what you want to accomplish with your social strategy.

• Use the FORD formula for posting to your social sphere: 25 percent Family, 25 percent Occupation (that’s real estate), 25 percent Recreation and 25 percent Dreams.

• Make sure your online bio is consistent from site to site and that you include your real estate business as part of who you are and what you do.

• Create an experience. Allow people who interact with you to experience something unique and different so they remember their interaction with you. Keep it positive, fresh and interesting.

• Set reasonable time limits as to how much of your work day you will spend on social sites. I suggest 15 minutes max; then go to work.

• Have fun and let your personality come through. After all, people do business with people they like, trust and share common interests with.

• If you question, even for a second, whether or not you should post something, always err on the side of caution and be conservative. When in doubt, leave it out.

Remember to poke, buzz and tweet, but don’t ever forget that the real goal is to get out there and meet.

Verl Workman is a speaker, coach, business consultant and president of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®. To hire Verl to speak, consult or work with your company, email or visit for more information.