Getting more value out of your LinkedIn connections…

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how to get more value out of LinkedIn, but I really haven’t given enough love to the site since them…  And I have an idea for how to change that.  Starting this week, I’m going to start writing one recommendation each week.

I’m starting this “recommendation” project with Kris Berg because she’s one of my favorite people in the world of real estate…  (Plus she doesn’t have many recommendations on LinkedIn which is a true shame!   If you know and like her, you should stop reading this post and head over to her profile and write a recommendation for her as well!)

Why commit to writing a weekly recommendations?

I have two purposes:

  1. It’s fun.  I really do enjoy the process of complementing folks who I’ve enjoyed working with and wish I did more of it.
  2. I want to play more with LinkedIn as a sphere building tool, but don’t want to dedicate a ton of time to the project.  I’m guessing I can knock out a solid recommendation in less than 20 minutes a week.

With that said, there’s so much more to LinkedIn these days with groups, Q&A, job opportunities, etc. that I’m sure there’s much more I *could* be doing.     If you have a more effective way to use LinkedIn, please share!  😉

Real Estate WordCamp is Coming to NARdiGras!

I’ve been working with the NAR team to put together a WordPress event at NARdiGras, and couldn’t be more excited that we’re ready to start announcing details!

In a nutshell, we’ve broken the half-day event into two tracks — one for beginners and one for more advanced WordPress users — and the folks we’ve agreed to present are some of the most knowledgeable WordPress people in real estate.  All the sessions will be be on the morning of Monday, November 8th.

Below is a summery of the schedule, although this page on the NARdiGras site will quickly become the definitive source of all session information soon!

Track 1: An Introduction to WordPress

Track 2: Maximizing WordPress

The idea is that if you’re relatively new to WordPress (and even if you don’t have a wordpress site yet!), you should be able to leave the first track with enough knowledge to feel comfortable setting up a site and have an idea for what a successful website marketing strategy would look like.

For those who are comfortable blogging, Todd Carpenter is going to be hosting the Maximizing WordPress track. With Kelley, Steve and Gahlord as presenters, you’re sure to get tons of tools and strategies to take your online marketing to the next level.

I couldn’t be more excited to be heading to New Orleans again and look forward to seeing you there!

BuzzRE OC Wrap-up!

The BuzzRE  OC event was so awesome…   I met so many great people and the speakers came through with awesome presentations. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to join us!

Some of the highlights were:

  • Jon Lansner: Compared to any time in recent memore, there’s actually some good news to talk about in the real estate market
  • Stacey Harmon: Understanding which social networks to focus on based on your business practice
  • Dale Chumbley: Ways to bridge your real-life community activity with your Facebook community
  • Robert Luna: Importance of focusing on your home search consumers
  • Gahlord Dewald:  Always be testing!
  • Loren Nason: Get on dropbox.  It’s time!
  • Garron Selliken: from @YvonneArnoldCRS:   “@garrons “what is the moment that u set new appt?” Then look at it backwards, how did u get there. Work 2 get in position more often #BuzzRE

And it all couldn’t have happened without Linsey Planeta putting a ridiculous amount of time and passion into the day.  She rocks!

One of the things I most enjoyed about helping to organize BuzzRE was organizing the presentations…  I had every speaker email me their presentation in advance so I could fit them into one solid presentation that didn’t feel like it was jumping around too much.   I’m pretty darn proud of the final product and super-happy to share it with you via slideshare.

What a great day!  It really is awesome to see so many folks get excited about implementing advanced strategies and websites.   If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this page of advanced real estate websites.

And after such an awesome event, it’s now time to turn to organizing another awesome BuzzRE in Portland in early June. Want to get involved? Let us know!

If you have feedback about yesterday’s event, I know all of us would sure would love to hear it!

WordPress at Real Estate Connect SF?

Are you breaking the rules with WordPress in real estate? I wanna know!

wordpress sticker on laptopThe good folks at Inman News have asked me to moderate the WordPress Summit at Real Estate Connect this summer and I couldn’t be more excited!

While we haven’t tried to confirm any speakers yet (that’s where I want your help), I’m positive the lineup is going to be awesome. We’re going to be covering themes, plugins, strategy, advanced installs, listings, and the future of WordPress!

The idea of a half-day at Real Estate Connect dedicated to WordPress is simply awesome.   I love WordPress and have been using it since the very birth of Rain City Guide (over 5 years ago!).  Over the years I’ve been a part of too many WordPress blogs than I could count… And unlike a lot of software I was using in 2005, WordPress has continued to improve with each iteration!    Especially now that website vendors are building in advanced IDX and CRM tools into the platform, it’s become a no-brainer option for real estate professionals!

By the way, did you know the new conference website for Real Estate Connect was built on WordPress?

I think it’s a pretty slick design and implementation, although I’m probably a bit biased since we designed and built the site!  🙂

Coming full circle… If you know someone in the real estate space doing interesting things with WordPress, send ’em my way!   I want to make this the best half-day on WordPress educational event around!

And finally, a huge hat-tip to Dan Woolley for the idea behind this post when he wrote about his ConnectTech Workshop!

BuzzRE: Internet Marketing Education for Realtors

About two months ago, the HomeQuest team put on a real estate educational event in Portland that I thought rock’d…  With four great speakers (Gahlord Dewald, Garron SellikenDavid Gibbons and myself) and some help from some local title reps, we brought together a few hundred agents to teach them about how they could improve their online marketing.

It was so much fun that I started pushing the team to create a similar event in Southern California…  and the team not only supported the idea, but everyone seems genuinely excited.  Assuming you’re a SoCal agent, then the only details you need to know are that we’re going to have the event on April 29th (9am to noon), it will cost only $20 and you can reserve your spot here: http://buzzreoc.eventbrite.com/

But for those that need more, here’s the catch… I want to improve upon the Portland event! And here’s my four ideas for how we can do that:

  1. Make sure we have even more great speakers!
    • We’re gonna have 8 formal presentations instead of 4… and a panel of 3 local agents who have successfully incorporated internet marketing in their business
  2. Make sure the presentation part of the day is extremely focused
    • We’re going to follow an overall structure that generally follows an Agent’s Work Cycle
    • We’re going to do it all in 2 hours, meaning each speaker will be giving approximately 15 minutes forcing them to focus on the stuff they find most important
    • We’re going to create one “overall” presentation so that we don’t spend time flipping between laptops/presentations and someone (in this case: me) is in charge of making sure the presentations will have a logical flow
  3. Make sure to include local agents who are actively generating substantial business from their internet marketing activities
    • So far, one local agent who has been rocking Facebook has agreed to be on the panel and I hope to announce the other two panelists in the next few days!
  4. Make sure the event is memorable!
    • For this, we’re giving it a fun name: BuzzRE OC  and…
    • We’re going to make sure it’s the most cost-effective educational event for every agent who attends.

So who’s involved?

Here’s the list of speakers as well as the tentative name of their presentations:

I’m convinced we can cover all of these super interesting topics in only 2 hours!   This means that we can plan for a solid 45 minute panel conversation with local agnets are doing interesting internet marketing and be able to wrap the whole event up in less than 3 hours!  As of right now, I have one panelist confirmed, one who has tentatively agreed and on the hunt for one more. The panelist situation:

  • Robin Milonakis:  who’s been rocking the Facebook world.
  • “Blogging” agent: I have a tentative agreement from an awesome blogger agent, but I don’t want to give her name until she’s confirmed
  • “AdSense” agent: I want one local agent who’s generates serious business from online ad buying to round the group out… If you have a recommendation for an appropriate agent, I’m all ears!

And please, please, please… If you have ideas for what we should cover in each section (or you have a better name for any of the presentations!), let us know!   In an ideal world, we’d be able to take the general presentation (from sphere marketing to lead generation to client management and back to sphere marketing) and bring it to many other parts of the country!   (Bringing in local experts where appropriate!)

I’m really hoping to create a can’t miss educational event for real estate agents and would love any and all help you can give in spreading the word. One more time, here’s the details:

Can’t wait to see you in the OC!

Another Rock’n Inman Conference

As always, the Real Estate Connect Event put on by Inman this year rocked!  The information, the people, the food, the fun…  it’s just way too much fun (honestly too much!).  And I know I’m a bit biased, but I hang with a really great group of people, even if you’all do stay out a bit too late.

125x125_nyc_09Combine a great New York City trip with being able to team up with Jay Thompson for a session on blogging and you know I’m going to have fun.

Follow that up with a great opportunity to moderate a discussion on the future of mobile technology in real estate with Brad Blumbert of SmarterAgent, Mark Ford of Qwasi, Dawn Doherty of StreetEasy and Jamie Glenn of Trulia and I was feeling pretty darn good!   But then give me the opportunity to moderate another panel on web analytics with Gahlord Dewald of Union Street Media, Marty Frame of CyberHomes, Ed Freyfogle of Nestoria and Anita Gandi of Hitwise and I was in online real estate geek heaven!

I learned a ton from so many folks at Inman this year, so thanks again to everyone who connected up over the past few days!

Sadly, I’m going to be missing out on the last day of the event (thanks to the fact that I doubled up my NYC time with a client meeting on Friday), but I did that very reluctantly as I cherish every minute I get to soak up from the great folks in online real estate!

Can’t wait to see you’all in San Francisco!

The trouble with Marc’s approach to Twitter

Like many real estate professionals who are using the internet to market themselves, Marc seems to be overlooking the fact that the best clients come from your friends… your real friends.

Most agents know this implicitly, but don’t necessarily make the connection to how they need to operate online.

For example…

A good friend of mine, who conveniently happens to be a real estate agent, hates internet leads. Doesn’t want to deal with them.   For years (he actually attended one of my bloginars in July ’06) , I’ve been telling him about the importance of SEO, “owning” his own domain, link structure, quality content, relevant traffic, etc, and while he humors me (he’s become a good friend after all), his heart has never been in it.  As he likes to remind me, internet leads are crap and he just passes them off to others when he gets them anyway.

However, on a recent conversation, we were talking about where he’s getting his business and he mentioned Facebook (he’s very active on Facebook and MySpace having uploaded thousands of photos and shared countless stories).  Says his friends on Facebook have been treating him well lately sending him great clients and he’d love to get more.  But he doesn’t consider those “internet” leads since the clients typically come to him on a recommendation from a friend.

I think it’s worth reiterating.  People who find him on the internet aren’t worth his time. People who get recommended to him from his Facebook friends help pay his bills.

So, now to bring this back to Marc’s post on twitter…  Marc says:

“You can either post gibberish or you can choose instead to post content about what’s happening in your marketplace right now that does or could have consequences for your reader.”

I can guarantee that if my friend had spent the past two years limiting his online participation to writing content that had consequences for his marketplace, he’d not only have a small fraction of friends on the site, but Facebook would not be providing him any meaningful business.  Worse, his most common “friend” would probably be other real estate professionals who accept this boring banter on social networks.

With that said, I’m a HUGE fan of agents creating a place where they can share their knowledge and expertise by creating content that has consequences for their marketplace… And my other website, Rain City Guide, does a great job generating business by creating this type of content (and I’d argue generates more business for our agents, mortgage brokers, title reps, lawyers, etc. than any other real estate blog).

But to compare the value of Twitter banter (or banter on Facebook or any other “social” network) to the content created on a site like Rain City Guide is to completely confuse the value of unknown internet clients with clients recommended to you by your friends.

If you don’t mind dealing with internet leads, then by all means focus on building out a website like Rain City Guide that will drive relevant traffic.

However, if you want your real friends to start sending you clients, then you better start interacting with them in a “real” way.  Maybe that means throwing ridiculously cool parties, joining the local PTA, coaching a little league team, or sharing inside jokes and other gibberish on Twitter.  Either way, your real friends expect you to be a real person.

How to use Flickr photos in a blog post

I just got question in an email from a real estate agent, and I figured my answer could probably help ore than a few people.

“I have been on Flickr and found some great photos from my area.  How do I know if these pictures are the ‘creative customs’ license?  Can I just use them?

From what I’ve seen work in practice, there are two good options to know if you can use a Flickr photo in your blog post:

  1. Someone has uploaded and licensed their photo on Flickr under a creative commons license.
  2. Someone on Flickr has allowed other members to “blog” their photo, which works regardless of the license they set for the photo.

Here’s how to work each option:

Option #1:
On the bottom right panel on the page of any photo, there is a section that describes the “permissions” for the photo. If something is creative commons, then the text will say “some rights reserved” and links to a creative commons license.  These are photos you can use as long as you give attribution back to the photographer by providing a link to the Flickr page with the photo.

If it is *not* creative commons then it will say “All Right Reserved”, and you should avoid using these photos on your blog.

Here’s an example of a photo that uses a creative commons license, and here is an example of a photo where all the rights are reserved.

Also, Flickr makes it easy to search ONLY creative common licensed photos by using their advanced search and checking the boxes at the bottom of the page.

Option #2:
If you are logged in to the service (and only if you’re logged in), then Flickr makes it easy to tell if someone won’t mind if you blog their photos.  All you have to look for is the text above the photo that says “blog this”.  If someone include the “blog this” button above the photo, then it means they’ve agreed to let any Flickr member use their photo in a blog post, regardless of the license they put on the photo.   Here’s an example of that type of button:

And here is what a photo will look like if you use Flickr’s “blog this” tools:


Grin., originally uploaded by :. G l o r i a .:.
Hope that helps!