Want to Grow Your Personal Brand? Start By Giving.

April 3, 2012 at 8:30 am
Colleen Poynton

Post by Colleen Poynton, Manager of Business Strategy and Development at Investing In Communities

You’re still in real estate. Still. As in – still after one of the worst downturns an industry has ever seen, you’re still in it. Why?

Why do you do what you do? You help people purchase and sell property. You help companies find the right space, or landlords find the right tenants.

If you stuck out this recession, the odds are decent that your job isn’t just a paycheck.  There’s a reason you do it. When was the last time you shared that reason with a potential client?

“People buy things from people they like and can relate to.” This great insight is from an article by Lambeth Hochwald over at Entreprenuer.com. Simon Sinek puts it another way – “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Let’s translate these observational statements into actionable business strategy: If you want to establish trust, loyalty, and a productive business relationship you need to create a connection with potential clients.

Hochwald’s article offers several good recommendations of how to build that connection, but point #4 may be the most critical, and I think, the most frequently misinterpreted: “Talk about yourself.” You probably already do this – sort of. You tell clients all about your expertise, your past success, your certifications, client endorsements, etc…etc…

You tell them how you’ll meet their real estate need, but do you ever tell them why?

Perhaps you love to help create strong, vibrant business districts in your city. Perhaps you have a passion for homes and interior spaces – for their idiosyncrasies and personalities. Perhaps you’re a life-long resident of your city/town/county and you know the neighborhoods/schools/parks/local gems better than anyone. Maybe you just really get a kick out of making clients happy.

For some excellent insight into why the WHY is critical, watch this great Ted Talk by Sinek.[ted id=848]

Okay, so back to point #4.

The author also suggests that you share a personal fact about yourself (not too personal) – one a customer can relate to. Maybe you volunteer at a local shelter, tutor kids on the weekend, lead a scout troop, or do pro-bono web development for nonprofits (call me). Whatever it is – odds are there’s something other than work that makes you tick. That human element is – surprise – something your clients happen to share.

Point 5 in this article is also essential. Now that you’ve opened up a bit, sit back and listen. What’s important to the person across from you? What makes them tick? Do you share a common passion, conviction, or hobby? If the answer is yes, you’ve successfully laid the foundation for an authentic relationship – one that just happens to involve a business transaction.

The Cause for Causes

There’s a reason major corporations are scrambling to integrate social and environmental impact into their products, services, and operations. Cause = Connection.

Fact: I do not care about toothbrushes, (even though I use them). I care about deforestation in the Amazon.

Enter Cause: Your company offsets it carbon footprint by preserving acres of the Amazon?

Connection: Okay, I’ll buy that toothbrush.

Just take a look at these stats. Edelman reports that the majority of consumers take action to support companies with broader social purpose:

-       66% buy their goods or services

-       66% recommend their goods or services

-       64% share their positive opinions or experiences with others

In fact, Edelman’s Good Purpose Study found that when choosing between 2 brands of equal quality and price, social purpose continues to rank as the #1 deciding factor for consumers – above design, innovation, or brand loyalty.

Why does this matter to your real estate business? Well, you may not be a multinational corporation, but you do have a personal brand, and the same waves of consumer preferences that are moving corporate mountains are lapping at your doorstep. If these preferences can sway a trivial decision about which toothbrush to buy, they can influence one of the most significant purchasing decisions that consumers and businesses face – “What property should I purchase or lease, and who do I trust to help me?”

Enter Investing In Communities

We like to describe IIC as a tool – something that you choose to pick up and use to build those authentic connections with a prospective client. By choosing to donate 10% of your compensation to your client’s favorite cause you say a lot about yourself, what you value, and maybe even why you do what you do. After all, at the end of the day isn’t real estate all about creating healthy, vibrant communities?

If you want to see your local neighborhood thrive, IIC is an expression of that.

If you want to support disaster relief or early childhood education, IIC is an expression of that.

More importantly, if you want to show your commitment to your client and THEIR values – IIC demonstrates that.

In the process you may be surprised what you learn about a prospective client and the causes, organizations, and institutions they support.

Like toothbrushes, everyone needs real estate. But IIC lets you empower clients to turn a vanilla real estate transaction into an act that truly matters.

Connection: Your toothbrush just got a lot more interesting.