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Previously, I worked as a REALTOR® in new-home construction, just prior to and through the housing crash of 2008. As a new-construction sales representative, I was responsible for the sales in specific communities the builder was developing. It was a retail environment where you marketed for a specific community(ies). During this period, it was not unusual to go for (what felt like) weeks without seeing anyone, and, eventually, people started walking away from homes they had under contract. It was very difficult for me to work in this environment, so I eventually left the industry.

Ten years later, I found myself at another crossroad. I did a lot of soul-searching and praying as to what I wanted the next chapter of my life to look like. To my surprise, I kept coming back to real estate! Ultimately, I landed on this profession because it allows me to do what I am most passionate about: building relationships and helping others create the lifestyle they desire for the season of life they’re in.

While running my own business for eight years, I learned a thing or two about myself. To know yourself is key when entering real estate, and it brings you directly to the question of being independent or joining a team. The answer for me was obvious: If I was going to be successful in this industry, I needed to be part of a team.

First, as someone reinventing myself, a team allowed me to leverage built-in brand recognition and sphere of influence, as well as guidance from more seasoned agents and a team leader. This is crucial when you’re so strongly associated with an industry outside of real estate.

Second, anyone who has run a business understands that systems need to be in place and need to operate like a well-oiled machine. In real estate, this is especially important. If you’re like me and have a high need for flexibility and freedom, this can be to our detriment. Because of this, I knew it was important to find a team with strong systems and processes. I’ve found systems give us the ability to have flexibility and freedom within a structure. Don’t skip over this part. Be honest with yourself. Most of us hate structure, but it is the very thing we need. This is where joining a team, with the systems, processes and the people in place doing what they are best at, comes into play.

Third, I wanted to be coached and mentored by the best in the industry. For any profession, being able to do it well is one thing, but being able to communicate and teach that profession is a whole different level. It’s important to seek a team where you will find such leadership. I believe it’s rewarding and gratifying to share with others how you created your success. It’s my goal to become such a leader and build a strong team—but first I must learn.

Fourth, in my business I learned to focus on the things that are in my control, rather than a specific goal. For example, if a client wanted to lose 20 pounds or sleep for eight hours, that’s not what we focused on. Losing 20 pounds or sleeping eight hours per night are not in our control. What we can control is what we put in our mouth and what time we go to bed. This is transferable to real estate. My goal is to master and be consistent with the daily activities. This is what will drive the results that I am after. Although self-discipline should work, I’ve found that just like how I need a personal trainer, I need a good team leader to challenge me and keep me accountable in this.

Fifth, as a newer agent, increased skill development is front and center. I believe when you join an existing team, you will gain more experience in real estate sales more quickly. A good team will provide you listing inventory to hold open houses, create online buyer leads and gain more listing opportunities, as well. By having more leads and lead-creation opportunities, you will build your sales skills, time management and negotiating skills faster through real application of those skills. Practice makes perfect!

Sixth, as an extrovert, I’ve learned I work best when I am around other people. I draw from their energy and accomplish more even if we haven’t said a word to each other. More importantly, I wanted to join a culture of like-minded people who are working towards something bigger than themselves.

I love working with a team. We use Workman Success Systems because we believe a key to success in business is having the systems in place to scale, doing more of what you are good at, then delegating other activities to people with a higher level of competency in your weak areas. With the right people and a strong system in place, you can build in transaction coordinator, marketing and administrative positions so that you can focus on building relationships, making appointments, showing homes, selling homes and attending closings, all while minimizing the activities that tend to be a waste of time.

Isn’t that what we value—building successful relationships without wasting our valuable time?

Sharon Harig is full-time REALTOR® with RE/MAX of Grand Rapids who has been in the business of working with people all of her life. She loves West Michigan and truly believes it’s a great place to live and work. Her devotion to building relationships is what separates her from the rest. She stands by her core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all she does. It was her love of people and real estate that led her into a career as a full-time REALTOR®. For more information, please visit