All of us have probably heard of branding—you know, the thing that helps us differentiate Coca-Cola from Pepsi or Nike from Adidas. But not a lot of us have probably heard of personal branding. Perhaps an obscure concept, personal branding is important especially in industries where personal touch or face-to-face interaction is important, especially in real estate.
It does not matter if you are a freelance real estate agent getting your hands dirty with the ins and outs of property selling or a seasoned entrepreneur who owns a medium-sized brokerage, crafting a personal brand that earns you recognition in your market can mean the difference between being viewed as a commodity or a valued resource.
And investing in your personal brand is a no-nonsense way to generate awareness for your business, establish your reputation as a reliable professional, and stand out in your market. In association with Penbrothers, global real estate brokerage firm RE/MAX Philippines has recently organized a talk on personal branding and invited esteemed speakers to share their insights on the subject.
Here, we summarize the speakers’ tips on how to build and cultivate an effective personal brand.
- Start with Authenticity
Many real estate professionals, especially those who have been in the industry for many years, might have already unconsciously defined their personal brand, and the best way to go about it is to develop it—ideally with purpose and passion. A lot of times, companies (and entrepreneurs) try too hard to define their brand when in reality the market or their customers are the ones that define it.
According to Faye Jessica Yoingco, digital content strategist at One Mega Group, the best way to go about it is to be authentic, which for real estate professionals is establishing you being you; that is, a dependable and professional real estate agent or broker. Indeed, if this is the message you want to convey, then you have to be this person in real life, whether you are in a networking event, meeting clients, or closing deals.
- Build Your Credibility through Online Presence
Matt Holmes, the founder of Handshakin, said that one effective way to start building your credibility is to have an online presence. “People trust you easier if you have some sort of online presence. It’s one thing if you tell people your opinion and then to tell it publicly. For this Holmes recommend having a blog or at least accounts on popular social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Instagram. In real estate, having your own website also helps develop your personal brand as an expert in your field.
- Build Trust by Delivering Value
You can build an audience—and in the process earn their trust—by delivering value. This is especially true in real estate where one’s potential customers are not immediately ready to purchase. One way to deliver value is to be a thought leader in your selected niche. According to Holmes, if you pick a niche, you can show people what you can deliver and in turn, more people will be willing to meet with you.
There are many ways to be a thought leader in real estate, said RE/MAX country manager Kenneth Stern. “One of which is to be an expert. If you can show your potential customers that you can give them sound advice, you will earn their trust and this is an effective way to convert them into customers. Indeed, helping is the new form of selling.”
- Follow the Four C’s
For your personal brand to be effective, it has to follow the four C’s; that is, clear, concise, creative, and consistent. According to Christopher Star, founder of XS by XS, a digital marketing agency, your personal brand has to be clear on why you are doing it. “Whether you’re doing it to expand your network, get a promotion, or win an election, you need to know why you’re doing it.”
Next is it has to be concise because people can only process so much information; hence, your message should be as brief as possible. Yoingco shares this view: “There is beauty in brevity. If you can say something in a short way as possible, do that.”
The third is to be creative. “To be effective, a personal brand makes sure that it identifies and differentiates you from others. And if it does, it means you’re not unique and that means you’re not being creative,” said Star.
And lastly, all effort to promote your personal brand has to be consistent. “This is important not just because it helps reinforce your brand, also because consistency builds trust,” said Star.
- Be Confident
“Fake it ’til you make it” may not necessarily scream authenticity, but it is an effective way to build your confidence and in the process your personal brand. According to Yoingco, it takes a while to develop confidence and it indeed is going to be a process. However, she thinks that this is something you can develop and one effective way to do so is to master your skill. For real estate professionals, this is to develop first and foremost one’s skill, because, at the end of the day, this will enable you to understand what you can bring to the table.
- Develop and Practice Empathy
This is something that we need to have more, said Yoingco. Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of others. “It’s thinking of other people when we’re driving, talking to them, or meeting with clients. Empathy is something that helps us understand more the people around us.” When it comes to selling, empathy allows real estate professionals to integrate what they know with their customer’s point of view, because at the end of the day, it is always about meeting the buying party’s needs and not the other way around.