Socially Networking Your Way Into Doing Business

In today’s continually evolving social media landscape, incorporating these tools in your business strategy is becoming more crucial than ever. But what is most effective for commercial real estate and how can you most wisely use your time?

Engagement Factor

First of all, you need to understand that when you get down to it, social media is really the engagement factor – participating in a two-way conversation with your audience. The role of social media can be broken down into three key areas – communications, marketing and branding. Communicate a message, engage in conversation and perspective. Market your expertise by sharing meaningful and relevant content. Listen to what your potential clients are saying and what needs they have. Brand yourself as a relationship builder with market and industry knowledge, not as a self-promoter. Every time you “do” social media, it really is an opportunity to increase your engagement factor.

30 Percent Rule

The next step is to strategically think about balance in types of conversations and content you post, just as you would with a “traditional” marketing plan (social media can seem ‘off the cuff’ but it deserves forethought and planning the same as your marketing plan and as part of that overall plan.) To get started, consider the 30 percent rule – 30 percent promotion, 30 percent conversation, and 30 percent recommendation.

Promotional content would be anything that is original to you and/or relevant to your own business such as an event you are speaking at or even a deal you just closed. With promotional content, generally you and your business are the topic.

Conversational content focuses on talking to other people in the space. Examples include replying to a tweet in your Twitter stream, posting a comment on a blog (like NAR’s The Source commercial real estate blog) or on a discussion board in LinkedIn. You will find that once you join the conversation it will build upon itself – just like in real life.

Recommendations include re-tweeting a tweet, re-sharing a Facebook post and posting relevant (to you and your followers/friends) articles, news stories, blog posts, video or podcasts from the web.

That makes up 90 percent of your content – what about the other 10 percent? Ten percent is about getting personal. Not in a blatant self-promotional way or in a I’m-going-to-tell- you-what-I-am-doing-every-minute way. That, just like a tacky marketing flyer or business card, will not help you in branding yourself as a professional expert – especially in an industry like commercial real estate. Instead, share a bit of who you are as a person, what your day is like, what you are doing for dinner, etc. Just remember to keep it to only about 10% of the content you share.

One of the most powerful aspects of social media is the ability to reach out and connect with colleagues, clients, friends and family across the country in a matter of seconds. But the lack of face to face interaction can create a wall – which is why it is so critical to include your personal self as you engage in social media. Being personal breaks down barriers and helps find common bonds between people. One example started by NAR Commercial is the CRE Java Club (#CREJAVACLUB). CRE Java Club is a group of commercial professionals from all over the country who met via Twitter by sharing their love of coffee (if you’ve ever met the NAR Commercial team on the road you know our love of all caffeinated beverages.) Not only have some great personal friendships been made, but it has generated business for participants built on trust and a shared experience.

Formula For Success

Engage in social media because you want to be social, not just because you need to check it off your list of things to do. Craft a strategy – your own personal strategy based on your professional and business objectives.

In other words, use social media as a tool to meet people while listening to others and insert yourself into the conversation with information that is useful and relevant. Focus on this, and continually repeat your efforts. Over a period of time, you will see results – connections that can lead to new clients and deals, while increasing the word of mouth of your reputation and character. Now that has impact.

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Create is a quarterly publication for commercial practitioners, members of the National Association of REALTORS® and commercial real estate industry leaders. Members can subscribe by updating your member profile information to include commercial interests in the "Field of Business" list.

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