December 18, 2014

Why Real Estate Professionals Should Use LinkedIn

Why is LinkedIn an important tool for today’s real estate professional? It is one of the first places potential business partners, prospects and others will go to learn more about you when considering doing business with you. They may Google your name, but understand that your LinkedIn Profile will appear near the top of the search results for your name.

Today’s consumer, whether for personal or business services, expects to find you on LinkedIn. Consequently you want to make the best impression possible when they find you. Oftentimes LinkedIn Profile will be the first impression the others have of your professional identity whether you realize it or not.

LinkedIn makes it easy for you to showcase your professional brand. From your photo, to your professional headline, your summary of what you do and for whom, your professional and educational background and more. In addition, you can include rich media such as video, presentations, links and other content to enhance your Profile and more fully describe who you are as a real estate professional and what makes you different from others.

Your Profile should include keywords, words and phrases describing the value you provide to clients. Since LinkedIn is a search engine you want to enhance the odds of your being found by those looking for your skills and services.

Second LinkedIn enables you to expand, organize and leverage your professional network. You can easily connect with individuals you know from work, school, friends and family, as well as other forms of association. LinkedIn allows you to Tag your connections by categories that you designate, this feature helps you keep your network organized since you can search for connections by Tag category.

It is important to have a strategy for reaching out to connect with others as well as accepting invitations from others to connect. If you define what types of individuals you most want in your network as prospects, partners and other resources this will help you decide whom to add to your network.

As LinkedIn gives you the ability to search for people based on their name, title, company, industry, location, schools and other criteria you have the ability to identify people with whom/ you want to connect. You can review the Profiles of LinkedIn members that you find and those who invite you to connect and quickly determine whether they are valuable connections for you. It is better to start with a small group of connections whom you would be comfortable introducing to others and who would do the same for you. There is no benefit to indiscriminately connecting with others on LinkedIn.

If you can define your ideal prospects for clients and partners based on demographic criteria such as location and title, for example, you can use LinkedIn to connect with them and start a relationship.

A powerful feature of LinkedIn is that it shows you how you are connected with a person whose Profile you are viewing on LinkedIn. You can then ask for an introduction from your mutual connection to the person you would like to meet. Being introduced to someone by a mutual friend or even acquaintance is far more effective than a cold call.

Your initial request to connect with someone new should include a reason you would like to connect in the form of a personalized invitation. Please do not use LinkedIn’s default invitation to connect. Your reason for connecting could be something as simple as the fact that you went to the same school, worked at the same company, share a professional or personal interest or have mutual connections on LinkedIn.

Your goal should be to start a relationship and add value to them as a professional. Later you can talk about the services you offer as a real estate professional. The objective is to move your relationship from LinkedIn to a meeting. This may take time and there will probably be emails and phone calls before you get together in person.

If your focus is residential real estate you can search for potential prospects and partners such as mortgage brokers and real estate lawyers by location and title. If you are in commercial real estate you can look for potential buyers and sellers based on company, title and location.

Using LinkedIn’s Publishing feature can both expose you to the world’s largest professional audience and help establish you as an expert in the real estate industry.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn does not replace the methods you have been using to find and service your clients. It is simply another tool that enables you to be more efficient in strategically expanding and working through your network. An active presence there also lets your audience know that you keep current on the best practices for presenting your professional brand in the digital age.