When I was first licensed in 1996, an idea was making the rounds that prior to meeting with prospective clients, an agent should give them a pre-listing package. It was printed material on the agent, their marketing plan, testimonials, and other credibility builders. The rationale was that when you sat down with the people, they'd already have a positive view of you, ensuring an advantage in getting the listing. It is a good idea, even for today, but limited. In 2010, your pre-listing package should be online in the form of a strong web presence.
If you don't know it already, prospects are already googling you, and you need to control the message. If people search you and find rantings on a sports message board,your book reviews on Amazon.com and an old profile of you on the web page of the event planning company you left 2 years ago, you have a credibility deficit before you shake their hand.
Here are some things any agent, new or old, needs to have online for consumers to see when they check you out.
- An organized web page with a user friendly home search (IDX) feature. Nothing fancy- 4-5 tabs with sections about you, home search, buyers, sellers, and of course, home. Have a prominent link to your blog. "About" is where you post your awards, accolades, designations, and other peacock feathers.
- A blog that is updated and focused on your local market. If you don't have anything brilliant to say, don't sweat it. Post hyperlocal and the commentary can come later. If you want a good blog idea, read other blogs and comment. You'll find either inspiration or disagreement and -boom, your blog post commentary will arrive. Fork up the cash for a Rainmaker blog for this reason alone: it will have far more comments than any other platform because of the built in community.
- Get a Facebook Fan page. This is a business page, not the one with photos of you on last vacation or posting from your high school friends reminding you of that night in '93 when you threw up in their basement. Link to your web page and blog. Use Networked Blogs to feed your blog content to that page.
- Post a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is like Facebook for business and has strong pull with Google. Link to your blog and web page-getting the theme?
- Post profiles on Zillow and Trulia. I don't care what your opinion is of them- control the message or it controls you. Claim your listings there too. Link to your web page and blog!
- Complete your Active Rain profile. If you have a section that still says "Post testimonials here," you are a gnu. Link to your web page.
These websites have the best pull and you need to be on them to leverage their google juice. They are the basics, because there are hundreds of other places to post a profile. But if all you do is the above 6 things, you now control your message, 24/7 with the most likely first page hits on Google when someone searches you. The fact that it will get you "found" far easier is great too, but we're talking about credibility when you walk through the door.
This works. Yesterday, I met with a prospect who checked me out closely prior to meeting. He already knew my sales record. He read my blog. He saw how many listings I had in Trulia. He knew I was on ABC News. He knew I was quoted on MSN Money that morning. I did not have to spend energy on selling myself, and we instead focused on his needs (You don't need to be on 60 Minutes, but you do need credible material out there). This is happening more and more- months ago, I'd encourage people to Google me so they'd have peace of mind prior to meeting. More potential clients are saying they already searched, and, given the trend, I am controlling the message.