Network Online While you Sell Houses

By: Jim Olenbush

Meeting people is easy - especially on the Internet. In recent years social networking websites have helped blur the line between online and offline socializing, and simplified target audience marketing to a single mouse click. The hard part now is deciding where to meet everybody, and which version of yourself to present. But if you know your audience well enough, as do most social networkers, you'll find your niche quickly.

Real estate has proven an especially good application for the new networking, and some Realtors have been very successful here. The best are able to mix a fun personality with business and marketing expertise, turning client leads into friends, and vice versa. Social networking works for real estate because it combines the casual with the commercial - many consumers like to browse home for sale listings or talk about investment in their spare time, and networking sites are where they hang out.

Real Estate networking sites like ActiveRain are great for making professional contacts and learning from your peers, but most buyers and sellers aren't spending time there. They're on the fun sites connecting with their friends, and tapping the occasional business opportunity. Myspace and Facebook are the two best examples, where the agenda is completely user-defined and different each day. Entertainment professionals were the first to use these sites as calling cards, but now everyone in the private sector does business on them. Real Estate agents look good on these sites because they can use the available multimedia applications to market listings and other products. It's also common for new home communities and condo developments to have their own Myspace or Facebook profiles. For savvy consumers, it becomes easy to integrate business and pleasure, and they can always disassociate with users or profiles that stop being fun.

Before social networking sites were common, forums were the best place to combine marketing and personality. The best read industry forums were informative and entertaining, evolving into self-sustaining communities that didn't require input from its creator.

Forums are still a big part of the social networking landscape because they provide a place for people to interact without divulging a lot of personal information. By the same token however, if you can connect with a consumer on a place like Facebook where you're more exposed, you might make a more lasting impression.

Marketing professionals are calling this "the golden age of pr," and Realtors are in a great position to make the most of it.

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