1. New tech will fill your sails

You will make better progress the more you take up the advantages of new technology. You still might be doing a quick letterbox drop when you have an hour to spare, but it will be your Customer Relationship Management system and data collection services that will fill your sails (and sales). There is a downside. You have to learn how to use the systems. A recent survey identified that 45% of brokers in the US found that high tech creates high stress. But, agents earning more than $100,000 in commissions are twice as likely to be using a CRM than the rest.

Recommendations: HubSpot is popular. So is Zillow Premier Agent CRM, LionDesk, and AgileCRM. Of course, never forget MercurySays: the best email, message and phone mentor you will ever have.

2. Lead the way

You know about looky-loos. Every salesclerk hates them. But, successful agents often don’t mind them so much. Why? Because, even if someone is the most unqualified, hopeless non-lead, they might big note themselves to someone that evening and you will find yourself with a gold nugget of a lead the next day. Agents get about 30% of their business from referrals and repeat customers. And, what are people looking for? An agent with a good reputation. That refers to the professional and the personal. So, talk to everyone and follow up.

Recommendations: Boost your lead generation with services like Market Leader, BoldLeads, Zurple, Zillow Premier Agent, or Zoho CRM.

3. Roll with the punches

If the market is booming now, you know what will happen next. It will bust. And, that’s how you’ll feel, too. Nothing will work. Prospects, vendors, and buyers will vanish. Some say real estate moves in 7-year cycles of boom, bust, bottom and boost. The cycle may be true but the length of time can be shorter or longer. You just have to work with what you’ve got.

Recommendation: Keep an eye on interest rates. Once they rise, you can guess what’s next. Harder times are coming.

4. Branding is not about mustering cattle

Keep in mind that about 70% of realtors focus on domestic real estate. Figure out the best real estate niche that suits you and build on that. What have you to offer? What is it about you that is unique and will attract the market? Will that be big enough for you to survive financially? When you have answered that satisfactorily, have a graphic designer create a good logo. Have a web designer create an appropriate website (and, I mean, the look and the structure). Make sure your business appears on all the social media platforms that suit your market. And, have something to say, at least once a week, on your niche issue.

Recommendation: Define your niche. Can you offer it value? Is it big enough? Okay, now show that you are THE GO-TO GUY!

5. Chase every lead

Leads are not always ready and raring to go. And, they may have a cousin who’s in real estate and they will go with her when the time comes to sell. The trick is to keep on being there and staying in contact. Persistence pays. On average, people look for houses for 20 days before, in frustration, they reach out tor an agent. Can you jump in beforehand to offer a helping hand? Success often comes to people who are actually there on the spot.

Recommendation: Read The Road to Recognition: The A-to-Z Guide to Personal Branding for Accelerating Your Professional Success in The Age of Digital Media by Seth Price.

6. Use the power of you to gather leads

Agents come to the real estate profession with every personality you could imagine (and, a few more that are straight out of Hollywood’s creative craziness). Some suit real estate. Some don’t. The loud-mouth, ego driven agent who spouts endless streams of talk will be okay for some people and horrible for others. The silent, sensitive agent will suit some and be hopeless for others.

Apparently, nearly 70% of home sellers would write a review of their agent if requested, no matter their agent’s personality. The key is that you must be yourself: being genuine. Show you are real (no matter your personality) and show that your professional skills are real, too.

Recommendation: Read Why Being Genuine is Your Most Valuable Real Estate Tool by Joe Nickelson.

7. Be in the way of money flows

You already know this. That’s why you got into real estate in the first place. What do you prefer: selling 12 homes a year (the US realtor average) worth $2 million each or 12 homes worth $350,000 each? Go where the money is. But, there is a catch. The average annual income for agents working up to 60 hours a week is just under $150,000. Hard working people get good money.

Recommendation: Read Luxury Listing Specialist by Michael LaFido.

8. Enjoy learning

You need a break. You watch a football game on TV. All good. But, this time, take it a step further. During the halftime break, watch a video on YouTube about the coach. Learn how they push for results and how they reward a run-on with a scholarship. After the game, check out a behind-the-scenes story: the recruiting, the training, the planning. That type of deep entertainment will give you a fresh insight and new inspiration that you can apply to your real estate work. Make your fun professionally useful.

Recommendation: Read Self-Education: The Skill That Will Help You Stay Ahead by Ransom Patterson.

9. You will always have two jobs

Your primary job is in real estate. But, you need to take on a second job. Does that mean washing dishes in a restaurant? Not at all. Your second job is working with your investments. It’s a real skill to make the money come in. It is a vital skill to do great things with that cash once you have it. Rich people make their money work for them.

Recommendation: If you are a newbie to investing, start by reading Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins. Of course, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are the masters of value investing. Learn from them.

10. A good website is like being nicely dressed

When was the last time you had an open house where you dressed in raggedy shorts, flip-flops, and you forgot to brush your hair? Never? Good. So, why would you do that with your website? How many real estate websites have a homepage that is overly intricate, with multiple links (each in tiny boxes) and an ugly, brown textured background? It screams 1995. Now, it’s way past its use-by-date. So, don’t wait. Update.

Recommendation: Check out Real Estate Web Design Inspirations for creative professional ideas.

11. Be a friend (in a particular way)

Relationship marketing can work well, but agents who impose themselves on the private lives of clients are creeps. Don’t do it. Creating a friendship for purely commercial reasons is unethical. You are not being genuine. So, how do you become close without becoming too close? When you communicate with your contact, do it perfectly. Understand their mood. Know how confident they feel. Sense whether they are ready to take action. Then, leave them to it. How do you do all that?

Recommendation: (Warning: incoming advertisement!) Use MercurySays when you write to them. That will help you form the friendship that you both desire. Also, read Success is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals by Zvi Band.

12. Actions speak louder than … anything

You know the feeling. There’s this nasty problem you have to deal with. And, you feel out of your depth. So, what do you do? You wait. You consider. You juggle a few possible solutions. But, stop! Change your ways. Right now, take action and make things different. It might mean you have to tell a vendor that yet another buyer has withdrawn their offer. It’s unfortunate but it happens. Some research  suggests we waste about three hours each working day. Make those three wasted hours productive.

Recommendation: Read Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy.

13. Make real estate work for you

The real estate agent’s work is a craft: part science, part art. You have to understand it perfectly to get the best out of it. But, you also have to press back to create your special place in the ever-changing puzzle. You will have weaknesses, so make them strengths by rethinking how they can be used to benefit you and your clients. Don’t let the industry overwhelm you. It must be a give and take arrangement. Know the industry and ask that it know a bit about you. That’s craftsmanship.

Recommendation: For a list of clever creative ideas you can play with, see 107 Outside-the-Box Real Estate Marketing Ideas and Tips by Matthew Bushery. You may find a way to express yourself in your own special way.

14. Some people always smile

Some people seem to be cheery souls. They are not grim faced, determined trolls. I have seen internationally successful economists, brilliant surgeons, exceptional teachers, and top-flight real estate agents who have a pleasant smile lingering about their lips. They are not frivolous. They are definitely not cynical. They are happy to be where they are after years of learning and hard work. They are grateful. Be like them. Work hard. Enjoy. What goes around comes around.

Recommendation: See Positive Intelligence by Shawn Achor and, for a related quirky checklist, Research Shows Happy People Are More Successful by Peter Cohan.

15. Be ready to change but be yourself

If you are a rugged individualist, climbing mountains, kayaking down thundering rapids, be ready to sit in a tastefully decorated lounge room having a quiet, comfortable chat with people who want you to sell their home … without fuss. They may admire your outstanding qualities but they may not want your thrill-seeking habits to play out when you sell their home. Be ready to be accommodating. Be ready to find another part of you that reaches out to them.

Recommendation: Although this article is about fitting in to groups, it provides some useful tips. Read How to Fit In and Truly Become Part of Anything by Jeff Haden.

16. Get rich quick … slowly

Getting rich very quickly involves buying a winning lottery ticket. But, it might take 20 lifetimes to strike it lucky. Otherwise, to be sure of financial success, live a modest comfortable life and think big … really big. Warren Buffett lives in a house he bought for $350,000. His daughter bought him a hail damaged car because it was cheaper. Mr Buffett prefers it that way. The trick is to find your advantage, just as he did. For example, the average age of real estate agent in the US is about 54 years old. So, anyone younger has an advantage, not necessarily in experience, but certainly in energy and in understanding how people from 20 to 40 years old think and behave.

Recommendation: Read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.

17. Calculate your risks 

I’m not waving. I’m drowning. To avoid drowning, “calculate” is the key word. Think through your plans. Work out the odds of success and failure. What will happen if things turn sour? Remember that Warren Buffett said that the first rule of investing is to not lose money. The second rule is not to forget the first rule. Make sure the upside is great and the downside is small. A risk has to be worth it. Here are some odd facts about risk-takers. Tall people take more risks than short people. Men take more risks than women. Young people take more risks than old folks. Most important of all, risk-takers are generally happier than the rest of us.

Recommendation:  For a general approach, read Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant.

Thanks @frankconephotos@rokoe4436@andreapiacquadio_@sidesimagery@missinlovers@anetelusina@alesia_kozik@danilevich_olia@matbrown@sondredahl@thebstudio@luca_nardone@alturashomes, and @shkrabaanthony for the fantastic photographs.