Are you ready for 2011?

Woman Framing with HandsWe are at the beginning of a new year! 2010 was a difficult one for all of us. Most of us worked harder than we’ve ever worked before…for less. The fact that I wrote this blog and you’ve opened it is enough for us to give thanks for. We made it through 2010, as hard as it was…

Business might have been slow but technology certainly has not slowed down. There have been so many improvements in the real estate industry that stick out for me. Hosted services over the Internet (otherwise known as cloud computing) continues to grow with its flexibility and accessibility. Working virtually is now proven to be a low cost successful option for many large and small companies. Meeting in public locations (third rooms) such as Starbucks or Panera Bread where the internet access is free and the atmosphere is upbeat with the perfect aromas has been a positive and rewarding change of pace for my business and clients. Social networking has increased business profitability and productivity for so many businesses.

When it boils down to it, it’s all about one thing. Relationships. Because no matter what, we’re human first.

So what is it that I’ve learned this year more than anything else? It is this – being true to who you are, respectful and honest and honorable goes a long way in maintaining relationships. No matter who it is, whether you’ll see them again or not…being true and good to yourself and others makes all the difference to you as an individual and your business.

How do you manage your business relationships? Do you convert those that you’ve met into prospects? How many people did you meet this year that slipped through your fingers simply because you did not follow through from that initial conversation…or that “let’s get together soon” response that rolls off our tongues so easily?

If there is any hesitation with these questions above, then it’s time for you to choose how you are going to manage your contacts and convert them into leads from your social networking sites, website, blog, email, phone conversations or face-to-face meetings. Take a few minutes to think about your interactions – how many people do you talk to in one day…and how you could maintain a relationship with that person.

Contact Management is one of the most effective ways to create a relationship with those that you’ve had any type of communication. The single most important component is consistency. Create a system that works with your way of collaborating – a system that is reasonable and attainable with your business. Think about the possibility of selling your business with a record of business activities that can be adopted by someone with little question as to what needs to be done next. Create value with your business activity and future plans recorded.

The question is, where do you put it all? That depends on what you can currently handle. Popular downloadable software programs such as Microsoft Outlook and Act can be used on your hard drive. Web access programs such at Top Producer and MyRedTools provide more flexibility with where data can be accessed. The  key is to look at what these programs have to offer and honestly assessing, especially if you’ve never tackled contact management programs – which one is sustainable based on learning curve and complexity.

Top Producer is a well thought out program that provides literallyBusiness Colleagues Working Togethereveryaspect of a real estate transaction, follow up and marketing that is needed for your business. MyRedTools is a new program, still growing, that has the capability of providing the same features as Top Producer but in my opinion with much less learning curve and literally 4 times more features for the same price as Top Producer’s basic package. Although it is developed by Keller Williams, it is also available unbranded. Microsoft Outlook does not have near the features that the above mentioned programs have but it has the capability of providing you with all the basic components to build your client base. It is a well thought out product flexible enough to adjust to your way of contact management, especially of you are opting out on a monthly subscription for an online product. As long as you are accurate with how you add your data, Microsoft Outlook data is exportable to literally any program.

Check these out, and check out others. Ask your colleagues what they use and how their program works for them. Start now and don’t stop.

Do you believe in what you are selling?

Ask yourself this question: If you were on the ground floor of an elevator with other passengers and you are getting off on the 2nd floor and one of the other passengers asked you a question about your services, would you flinch?

Here is a great exercise – I would not ask you to do it if I haven’t :)… stand in front of your bathroom mirror. Alone. Pretend as if you are the passenger asking the question and then answer the question. If you feel comfortable…if your answer roles of your tongue and you believe it with all of your being, then you’re on the right track! If you can’t answer…if there’s a wince, you have work to do.