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Social Media for CRE Professionals is the Ability to Connect to People in a Huge Way


Linda Day Harrison, the founder of The Broker List spends some heartfelt and genuine time with me discussing the difficulties getting commercial real estate professionals to effectively adopt social media, a term that she is not so pleased with.

Linda believes that most CRE professionals, when they hear the term social media, immediately think that it is not for business. They have been hearing that it is for business for a while, but most just don’t get it yet. To be fair, it took a while for me to “get it”.

“Social Media is …… the ability to connect with people, period.”

“Basically, it is meeting people, it is networking.”

“Social media is not an extra thing that is optional” It is part of what you do as a professional, you meet people and expand your horizons, except that it scales to a world wide basis, not just your local community.

Understanding how to use social media requires thinking in a big way.

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Something to Add?

  • Austin CRE

    Seems to be a lot of context taken out of this , and it is always someones “opinion”- and it does not make it necessarily so. I have over a 100 pages of blog entries, tweets. blah blah blah etc.. it has had zero impact ROI on my biz. So Linda needs to remember entrepreneurs are in business to make money , not just brag on themselves saying look at me this is what I do. You can’t compare Coca Cola and Pepsi type companies who can run social media ads so that a person will go buy their product, their product is all over the world all over the place they can run coupons etc.. CRE doesn’t do that.- not a good comparison. . Fbook,+Twitter are actually making the human interaction more digital and removing the personal interaction not evolving it. Of course a person who runs TBL is going to feel the way she feels , I guess that is why there are zero comments on this interview?

    • hfklaw

      Austin CRE: Ouch. But you are entitled to your opinion as much as Linda and I are. As a matter of fact, I do not think that you are entirely wrong. For the record, you have commented, so there are not zero comments to the interview. Furthermore, the newsletter containing this interview just went out this morning and I have received numerous emails commending the video and others have already shared it on Twitter. With that being said, perhaps the fact that I don’t have many comments directly on this page can be more attributable to my lack of ability to get people to comment directly on the video page. I really don’t have an answer.
      I will say that Allen Buchanan and I recently spoke at a conference on how he actually has made quite a bit of money as a broker, using social media. Perhaps I should do a video interview with him on the subject and I would again welcome your comments.

      • Thanks Howard for this reply to Austin CRE and I did just leave you a voicemail when I saw the video posted. Thanks again and I look forward to chatting!

    • Thanks Austin CRE, would love to chat with you and review what you have done to date and give you some one on one feedback. I totally get what you are saying about Pepsi, etal. I did not intend to make people think that I think they are the same, but in concept they are the same as they are both businesses who need to use the internet to market. That was what I meant, and I am sorry my communication on that point was confusing. As far as cre professionals, we are a people business and we need as many people, applicable to our markets or target audience to know who we are, otherwise, how else are we to be found or noticed. If I were a building owner deciding who to hire, I would care deeply that you had 100 of pages and were active in the commercial real estate, online community. Now today, the older generation of building owners may not care, but anybody younger would be unimpressed with anybody who wants to market their property who could not be found online easily. Also, I am curious if you are a tBL member because again, we love to help those that help themselves and doing it alone is not recommended. You need to work with others and use that to leverage more relationships. I really want to meet you and have a confidential one on one chat because with hundreds of pages of content, etc. I can maybe be a sounding board for leveraging that talent and passion to help. I am a regular person who is just embracing these new found tools and I am not a guru or marketing expert, just somebody who is using online marketing skills to set an example for others. I hope you give me a call as I would be glad to be of service! Linda 312-212-3611. Also, thanks for listening to Howard’s show, he is doing such a tremendous job of moving from sound to video and I am lucky he asked me to chat with him, so know I know you as a result!

    • hfklaw

      Hey Austin CRE, there is a conversation going on here. Part of making social media work for you is honest interaction, with an emphasis on “interaction.” The fact that some of us may not agree with you, is irrelevant to the discussion and frankly, can make the discussion more interesting. This is about speaking your mind, honestly, articulately and with respect for others, even if you disagree with them. Here is your chance.

    • Dave

      Various forms of social media provide options for others to gain a sense of the organization or a representatives personal values and perspective to make an initial determination if they are interested in learning more. Do they want to continue to tune in or tune them out. All people tune into the same station- WIFM “What’s IN it For Me”. If they think the blogger, tweet, etc, brings some value or insight or good feeling to them, they continue to tune in, if not, they ignore. Maybe if you haven’t seen an ROI, it may be that your targeted audience is simply not getting their ROI. Maybe what they hear is blah, blah, blah.
      I’ve noticed that some active CRE people rely heavily on “the rant” to get a point across, or negativity trying to make a positive point (that never works). There are executive coaches available to help talented execs correct deficiencies and reach their potential. There are many forms of assistance available to assist in the development of a positive social media program, but the person behind the campaign will always be the important foundation. I acknowledge that I have a lot to learn as social media continues to evolve and I am grateful for the opportunity to at least try to get better at communicating and bringing value to others. I would encourage you to remain open, positive and to keep trying.

      • hfklaw

        Well said Dave.

      • You are so right!! WIFM is a classic way to look at everything in business and even life, when it comes to how to motivate people. It is no different. You are proving the point that the only difference is that it is virtual or online, but networking and getting out there is just the same as going to any event or lunch or whatever and meeting people. Also, being negative is not a good way to go, of course. But again, that applies whether virtual or live! Thanks for your incredible support Dave.

  • Howard, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed. I am so fortunate to have made the connection with you, as a result of online networking and I value our relationship and the road ahead for all of us. I am so super grateful and thank you for your patience and extreme support!

    • hfklaw

      No, Linda, the pleasure is all mine. You see, I disagree with your objection to the “social” nature of social media. Yes, I understand that many people misunderstand that “social” excludes business. However, the social nature of social media is extraordinarily important. It’s important to like and be liked. I am sooner to help out someone that I like than someone that I have no emotional attachment to. I still do legal work for people that I have known for over 30 years and who I met through my law practice, because we like each other and have become friends. I think of you in the same way. Now all that we have to do is make it another 30 years.

      • It is not that we are not to be naturally social in business, that goes hand in hand. It is the term that I think dilutes the power of it and turns people off. I am learning to be a better communicator, thanks to opportunities like this. I have never been in this arena before so I am not good at speaking and being clear. My point is in business it is essential to be social and kind and approachable, IMHO, but the term social media just sounds lightweight and not serious, when I believe it is SUPER serious to participate. Thanks!

  • Mark

    I will chime in to this discussion to share my ROI on my media efforts in recent months. I was planning to write a post about the first example, so will keep this brief. I just closed a deal worth just under $17,000.00. I will include a photo of the check when I write the article.

    My client read a blog post about parking codes for restaurant use in Los Angeles. The “prospect” contacted me to ask questions. After a few emails, we scheduled a call where I answered more questions and offered to help.

    The next morning my NEW client informed me they fired their current broker and wanted to work with me exclusively. The client is a franchisee with plans to open more stores, so my ROI should increase over time.

    I closed another deal last month where both the landlord and the tenant became clients through contacts made online. A residential broker needed to refer her client to a specialist for a restaurant property and found my website. While we were waiting to get possession during an eviction, I was introduced to a restaurateur by an architect I met online within past two years.

    I closed the deal within 2 weeks of getting possession of the Premises. My fee after a paying a referral is approximately $12,000.00.

    Other than the time spent to write articles and share on twitter, I spend no money on any media. If you are not receiving a return on investment it may be because you are not focused on providing value for free up front. The ROI only happens after you build trust and prove you can provide value. Make connections with people by providing help with no expectations in return and over time you will see the return.

    I also receive a great deal of education from people I have online and my network of experts I can contact when I have questions continues to expand. I will be lucky if the post card mailer I’m sending on one of my listings provides close the the same results.

    • Wow, I cannot wait to see that blog post! Congratulations Mark. Nice job! Thanks for reading and watching Howard’s post too! It is so appreciated.

    • hfklaw

      Mark, this is a perfect example of what you can do, if you do it right. The thing is that it does take some time to “do it right” because you have to learn. Receiving an education from people online is a very important part of “doing it right.” It speeds up the learning curve considerably. I’m happy for you and proud of you. Keep up the good work.

  • Kassandra Bruhn

    There are no rules to the right or wrong way to utilize social media sites, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The one thing that I continue to share with people is “ITS COMPLETELY FREE”! Just like Linda said, they are simply FREE tools to marketing yourself and expand your network. I understand that time is money. But if you have the budget to hire someone who can really connect your business and your brand to the outside world, then you will start to see results. I use social media to brand my brokers, our company, our national brand, and our owners and tenants. There are so many ways to generate content on our sites. It’s simply a way to expand our brand, FREE! I can imagine how it is frustrating to spend time and effort on such tasks without seeing a lot of results. But think about this, the next time you do attend a networking event, remember to listen to the people that say “hey I saw your posts on facebook about that deal you did” or “I saw that email blast you sent out about that property” and always remember to connect to people on Linked In – it’s like a virtual handshake introduction!

    • Thanks Kassandra, well said. I know in your shoes, as a marketing professional what you are up against. I cannot imagine how you would be able to rock marketing with the old tools and methods of yesterday! It was painful to do mailings, and manual lists, etc. Today, these tools, really create extreme marketing opportunities and I know you try to embrace the right ones for the right task! Thanks for reading/watching this post!!!

      • Kassandra Bruhn

        Yes not to mention budget restrictions. I can create an advertisement with my design programs and post it FREE anywhere I want on social media. Although we love to advertise with our local media partners.The reach is limitless when i can post and share it online on one or more social media outlets! The more people you connect with on your sites, the more eyes on your brand and people! Keep connecting!

        • True. Money is tight for everybody and as marketing people, we have to stretch dollars like never before. No postage, paper, etc saves tons and everyone’s eyeballs are online today. Tablets, phones and computers! You go girl!

    • hfklaw

      Kassandra, you got it girl. I speak at and attend conferences all over the country and do you know how many times people come up to me and tell me that they watch my videos or listen to my radio shows. Quite a lot and I am still amazed, although I have to learn how not to act so shocked. Actually, I don’t think I look shocked as much as I feel shocked. I think I look appreciative, which is also how I feel.

      • Kassandra Bruhn

        It is very rewarding isn’t it! And this will only continue to grow, so game face on Howard and keep up the great work :)

  • BCCommercial

    I agree whole-heartedly Linda! One of our greatest challenges, especially as a marketing professional in the Commercial Real Estate Industry is equating a value to the exposure you are able to achieve through online networking…a.k.a. “social media”. I prefer to call it professional social media if I have to call it that. You have provided a valuable “re-defining” of social media within the CRE realm, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom line. If it helps my bottom line, I’m willing to invest time, money, effort. If I don’t understand it, I can’t equate it to a monetary or branding value, therefore I won’t do it. You have “nutshelled” why online networking is essential in this industry and given us a logical association with it that everyone can grasp.

    • Beth Anne, you have been a leader and giant within the industry for a long time and I know you have made so many connections. That is what our business is about and for me it comes naturally to jump on these platforms, just like you do! I believe it is a faster and more efficient process as a result and depending on your personal style, it can be whatever you want it to be, so long as you get the job done! I appreciate all you do for me and for CRE and I thank you for being such a help to me personally. Thanks for the feedback on this pioneering medium we are all now being to use, called video! I have to practice, practice, practice as this is now the “next thing” we all have to learn to use as well! It does not stop. Thanks so much!

  • CREOutsider

    Very true that agents and brokerages don’t know what to do with social networks. Actually posting some observations on this next week. But I believe some of the problem is that most “training”/what they hear about this is oriented towards retail/consumer goods. Services have to take a different approach.

    • Excellent point Chris! I look forward to your insight on this as well. Again, thanks for the support.

  • Mark

    Thanks Howard. Look forward to catching up soon.

  • Kristian Lee

    Great interview. Love the change of calling it social media to virtual networking. I wasn’t too sure of social media but once I dedicated myself to it and also started blogging I have made so many virtual connections it is unbelievable and exciting. It has also raised my credentials as a CRE broker. I have had brokers who represent national companies contact me to partner up and handle their client’s local transaction due to my exposure on the internet. It takes time but virtual networking works and assistance from people such as Linda and the Broker List is priceless!

    • hfklaw

      Kristian. It does require some commitment. When I first got started with LinkedIn, I had no clue what it was. So I spent the better part of a week learning the ins & outs of it, at the time and then continued to learn as I used it more.

    • Thanks for watching and supporting Howard’s show! I think the key word you used is dedicating. It is not something to take lightly, but seriously, just as you do any networking! If you are involved and out there, you meet people, if not, you don’t! Thanks for the kind words too! You are one of our brightest stars and you do everything so very well! I always use you as an example because you really care and want to learn and do things right! Keep up the good work Kristian!

  • Tom Hartel

    thank you! great video and discussion. my webmaster wrote a wonderful book on this topic: “It’s not about you, It’s about BACON” by Brian Basilico. It’s a great book and has been widely acclaimed. check it out! take care, Tom

    • hfklaw

      Thanks Tom. I’ll take a look at his book. Maybe I will invite him to be a guest on a show.

    • Thanks for sharing.

  • Linda, as always spot on! I have myself even going online now days to check a company out and see what they have to offer before I call and to see what is said about them. If this old cowboy is doing it you know others are way ahead of me. Hope all is well and keep up the fight! -Mack.

  • Excellent interview Linda! You get out of it what you put into it, and social media being a FREE outlet should provide great returns! :)

  • @JohnOrrCCIM

    Linda and Howard, GREAT JOB!!! I was in Austin for the #MOCIAL and wrote about it on http://www.johnorr.com but please take away this on the topic! It is more important to not be absent than to be present at this point. if you aren’t sure this is ‘for real’ ask your friends who sell houses where close to 90% of research is done online. CRE we have a long way to go. Don’t kid yourselves the kids – those intern types will outwork, outsocial and outnetwork you – social or no, they’re also better in person – i betcha!