4 tips for establishing rapport with clients online

Compete with the ever-evolving online resources at consumers’ fingertips

We all know that more and more clients are searching for their homes online.

Both millennials and gen Xers have a strong preference for using real estate agents (87 percent) and are almost as likely to use online tools as well, according to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends released in October 2016.

As we compete with online tools available to consumers, how do we, as agents, better capture these online leads and turn them into clients for life?

Here are four tips for establishing a rapport with clients online:

Cultivate your (online) approachability

With the rise of social media and sites such as Meetup.com, meeting people from online “in real life” is less concerning now than it used to be. Your job is to project an image of approachability via your online presence. The best and most efficient way to do this (in my opinion) is through your social media profiles.

First, the basics. Your profiles should include a clear picture of you, not a logo. Studies have shown that human faces inspire emotional connection. Moreover, your photo should convey professionalism and friendliness — smile!

Feel free to pepper your social media pages with photos of your daily life, even if you don’t think they’re particularly interesting. Take photos of your pets doing funny or weird things.

Show off photos of your favorite drink from the local coffee shop that just opened around the corner. Snap a shot of the beautiful sunset over your neighborhood.

These images will show that you are relatable to your audience — because you are posting photos that they themselves could have posted!

Even though many social platforms are now more image-based, your words still matter. Make sure your language is positive and your tone upbeat. Be personable!

Don’t be ‘salesy’

There’s nothing that irks me more than seeing an agent constantly post the same thing in his or her caption over and over again: “Call me if you want to buy or sell!”

That doesn’t make for very interesting content, and frankly, you’ll drive clients away.

It’s perfectly fine to post in your bio that you’re a real estate agent — in fact, you definitely should do that. But posting “work” photos should be done sparingly.

They should just be subtle reminders once in awhile — a celebratory photo from a client’s closing, an interesting story about a listing or a snapshot of the most stunning kitchen you’ve ever seen.

Through that, your approach will be more casual, but you’d be surprised how much more relatable you’d become.

Be engaging and responsive

Much of social media is about validation, in the form of likes, comments, direct messages, etc. At our core, everyone wants to feel accepted and like a valued member of society.

We’ve turned to social media over time to continue to feel validated. Society has transformed in a way that there is no longer a physical town square; instead, the “town square” is online, in the form of Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat.

To have a presence and not be lost in the crowd, you need to be responsive and engage with others. That means liking and replying to people’s comments not just on your page, but on other pages as well. Respond to all messages that are legitimate, even if you can’t help.

Every comment or message reflects your brand, so make sure to keep your tone in line with your personal and professional values. A consistent tone will help build your brand over time.

Position yourself as an expert 

I know — impostor syndrome is real. Especially when you’re a newer agent, you can feel overwhelmed and completely out of your element. The important part is to not feed that fire and instead focus your energy on being productive.

Right now the best way to channel the fears into a more productive use is to start blogging. The universe is hungry for content, especially content that is helpful or educational.

Producing your own content is the most accessible way to becoming an authority on a topic. The bar is also fairly low, given there are sites where you can build your own site for free. In this day and age, there is absolutely no reason not to have your own website.

Take this article, for example. Do I know everything there is to know about real estate? Absolutely not. But I’m still here writing this article because I feel that it’s a topic I can shed light on.

Another crucial way to become more of an expert is to invest in your own education.  This can be in the form of books, conferences, classes, etc., but the important part is to keep learning.

Tiffany Alexy is a real estate broker with Fathom Realty in Raleigh-Durham metro, North Carolina.

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