Inside each of us is a complex combination of elements that determines how we interact with the world—and, thus, how we are perceived by others. Our genetics, family dynamics, personal experiences, education, occupation, beliefs, and spiritual connections help shape the person we become. This mixture of characteristics can create a desired (or undesired) outcome when it comes to both relationships and business. With this thought in mind, here’s a core list of characteristics that are inherent in every strong personal real estate brand. While each is mutually exclusive, together they create a ripple-like effect that melds your professional and personal personas.
- Boldness. The most compelling brands reveal the people behind them and what those people represent. The boldest real estate pros make no apologies for putting themselves out there because they don’t see their brand as centered on themselves; rather, their brand touts specific personal characteristics that help their customers. Jill Watson, a sales associate with RE/MAX Horizons in Dover, Del., who is known as “The Straight Shooter®,” gives her customers the “facts without the fluff” so she can “protect from pitfalls and provide solutions.” Her focus on transparency and honesty means she doesn’t waste her customers’ time; therefore, they view her as a true professional.
- Resilience. Difficulties will arise, and you’ll inevitably face rejection, failures, and shortcomings. Real estate is known for its cyclical nature, and every agent has felt that roller-coaster effect. In addition, the iBuyer movement and expansion of real estate portals aims to challenge your value proposition to consumers. Over and over again, you are tasked with proving your worth. It’s a matter of when—not if—you will face these kinds of obstacles. The capacity to recover and adapt as quickly as possible to challenges or changes in the industry is a trait shared by strong, resilient people.
- Authenticity. This is perhaps the trait most necessary to cultivate a strong brand—and, hopefully, the easiest to achieve. Your personal brand is an extension of everything that makes you a complex being of character. Leslie Smith, a sales associate with Delisha Boyd LLC in New Orleans, dubs herself the “Empowerment Agent®.” In a previous occupation, she spent more than 25 years empowering people in the areas of career and small business development. After she became a real estate investor herself, she realized she could also empower young professionals and other investors to make sound decisions about buying, selling, or investing in property. Her background and genuine desire to help others present her as authentic to the core.
- Nurturing. A person who displays a nurturing personality will be appreciated in most circles. This trait lies at the core of service to others, coupled with a genuine determination to help someone not only achieve a goal but a clear understanding of the process and expectations along the way. Chris and Deanna Homrich, a husband-and-wife team with Music City Experts in Nashville, Tenn., brand themselves as “Transition Agents®.” They’re known for “helping people in transition so they can obtain a home and community more suited to their changing needs and lifestyle.” Deanna’s previous experience in health care gives her a genuine concern for the challenges people face and can be applied to all phases of a real estate transition. Chris’s Fortune 500 background gives him a clear focus on his client’s goals and strong negotiation skills to get them to the closing table faster. Together, their handholding approach helps their clients know they have their best interest at heart.
- Differentiation. This is perhaps the strongest element of a personal brand—and the most elusive. Many of you may be wondering what truly sets you apart from everyone else in your market. When it seems as though the steps, challenges, and goals are the same between you and your competitors, it can be quite difficult to focus on a point of differentiation. The truth is you have many. The greater truth is you only need to use one of them to open the door for new business. Choosing the right differentiator begins with clearly defining your ideal customer. When you know who you are serving, you will understand their needs and wants better. Then, when you consider your own various points of differentiation, choose one that is important to your customers and specific to you and your market.
- “Faith.” One definition of faith is to have complete trust or confidence in someone or something. Start with yourself: Believing in yourself and what you stand for will ground you and provide more reward than you can imagine. When you’re defining, developing, and displaying your brand, you have control over the impact you’ll have on prospects and customers. Keep in mind the commitment you’ve made to your craft and how that helps your customers achieve their dreams and goals. Others won’t see your belief and sincerity if you don’t feel it first.
- Adaptability. The famous philosopher Confucius said that the only thing constant is change. The strongest brands are prepared to roll with the punches, pivot, and shift with each sharp turn in the market. This includes the ability to adapt to your customers’ needs from their point of view and understanding. Your ability to empathize begins with viewing each situation independently and reacting to those needs and concerns in the moment. The ability to adapt to a changing landscape is one of the greatest strengths in the sales arena. Period.
- Confidence. Many real estate professionals are confident in performing the task at hand but not about boldly promoting themselves. Many understandably hold humility in high regard. While that’s admirable, it’s wiser to separate confidence from humility when it comes to branding. Your personal brand should not have a “look at me” approach; it should be more focused on a “look what I can do for you” approach. It’s truly the element that can move a brand from almost invisible to recognizable and sought after.
- Expertise. Being recognized as an expert in your field is the edge that pushes your brand over the bow. All the other traits are admirable and even necessary, but without knowledge and expertise, most people are not viewed as a true professional. Luckily, this is remedied with a commitment to learning as much as possible about industry trends, your market, the types of properties you focus on, and your ideal customers. Embrace an ongoing quest for knowledge through continuing your education, observing other professionals, and participating in your community to become the best in your industry and craft. Then, remember to portray that in your personal brand.