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The Secrets To Becoming a Successful Veteran Real Estate Agent

By Vince Work · Mar 10, 2016 · Real Estate

The Secrets To Becoming a Successful Veteran Real Estate Agent

Image courtesy of BeSmartee, Top Agent Trophy

Breaking into real estate as an agent is tough. There is no guaranteed income. You usually have to spend your own money on marketing and advertising.

On top of that, you’re going to have to compete with seasoned veterans that have been ruling your neighborhood for decades.

Really, when you think about it, you’re starting a war on their turf. They’re not going to back down so easily.

So how do you become one of them?

You Gotta Start Sometime…

Believe it or not, the seasoned vet you’re going head-to-head with also started out just like you. And just like them, you’re going to have to plan to stick with it for a few years to solidify a great foundation and sales pipeline.

But it’s really important that you kick off your real estate career by being goal focused. Nothing is more important than identifying your goals and then breaking down the pathway to achieving your goals.

At first, it might be hard to identify what actions will lead to achieving your goals. What’s important is for you to track everything you do and try to measure the success of each campaign. Here’s a basic process you can follow:

  • Identify your goals - How many sales or transactions do you want to hit this year?
  • Breakdown your goals - If you have X amount of listings, how many sales do you think you’ll close? How much advertising do you need to do? How many networking events should you attend?
  • Track and measure – It’s important to track your progress. Your initial model will predict a certain trajectory towards your goal. However, reality will prove a different trajectory. What’s important is to get the actual data that leads to your goals and then use that information to scale your business.

Master Being Organized

The number one thing you need to get down on day one is organization. Not returning phone calls, missing meetings, showing up late – these are obvious traits of a bad real estate professional. Here’s how to never make any of these mistakes:

Google Calendar is Your Friend

Google Calendar is your friend

The beauty of Google Calendar is the notification function. Every time you get off the phone and you need to schedule an appointment, immediately open up Google Calendar and create an event (you do this by simply clicking on any day of the week).

When you create your event, be sure to set a time (the default is “All day”). On the event page, you will see a Notifications section near the bottom of the page.

  1. Set your first notification one hour before your event time. I always choose “Email” from the drop down selector. You may prefer a pop-up notification.
  2. Set another notification for several hours before so that you get a notification the night before. Sometimes you need a heads up the night before so you can get properly prepared before hand.

If you have an iPhone, connecting your Google email account to your phone will be a lifesaver. Your notifications will appear as push notifications. This helps a ton if you decide to do a morning errand and happen to forget about an appointment.

Be sure to check your calendar first thing in the morning so you’re aware of all the meetings in-store for you that day.

Google Sheets is Another Friend

Free real estate CRM

The beauty of Google is you don’t need to buy your own CRM. You can create a Google Sheet to keep track of all your clients and deals. It may not seem sophisticated, but it’s 100% free, it keeps everything inside one Google Account and you’ll never be limited by a CRM’s functionality. Simply add a new column to your sheet to keep track of other important information on your clients.

It may take several months for you to nail down the perfect Google sheet configuration to organize your clients and deals. Don’t sweat it. Just spend time in it every day and adjust the sheet to fit your needs. Before you know it, you won’t to ever use anything else.

Download the Google Drive app for your phone so you can edit your Google sheet on the road.

Keep Folders For Each of Your Clients

real estate clients folder

This is the final piece of getting organized. Create a master folder for your business. This folder can reside on your computer or in your Google drive. It might be a wise decision to start using Google drive now. That way all your files can always be accessed from your phone or tablet.

Inside the folder keep sub-folders with the name of each of your clients. Here, you can keep all the related documents you need for each client.

ABN: Always Be Networking

Being a real estate professional means being a people person. Your job is to know as many people as possible in your neighborhood. That means you also need to be a master networker.

The key to networking is to bring business to your network. The more business and goodwill you bring into the network, the more business that is returned to you. Giving is receiving.

Believe it or not, you are probably networking and giving business every day without knowing it. Every time you go to:

  • Your local coffee shop (a great reason NOT TO ALWAYS go to Starbucks)
  • Your dry cleaners
  • Your local hardware store (a great reason NOT TO ALWAYS go to Home Depot)
  • You local copy and print shop (a great reason NOT TO ALWAYS go to Fedex/Kinkos)
  • Your key copier / locksmith
  • Your mechanic
  • Your plumber / HVAC person
  • Your local computer repair shop

…your’re giving business and networking.

All these small mom-n-pop businesses you interact with regularly are in your network. You’re bringing them business regularly, so be sure to refer them, put them on a page of your website, and tell people that, "you sent them."

Most importantly, let these people know you are a real estate agent! Every time you see them, let them know how the market is doing, what mortgage rates are like, and whether it’s a good time to refinance or not. Be the local real estate oracle.

Finally, trade business cards with each of these people and connect with them on Linkedin. You want them to get marketing touches from you regularly, both off and online. Linkedin is a great way to keep those marketing touches up.

Get Out Of The Office And Go To Events

In most metropolitan areas there are hundreds of networking events going on every month. Here’s a list to get you in the middle of the mix ASAP:

Chamber of Commerce Events

Chamber events are a great way to get to know the business owners in your area. Most chambers will hold several events a month. They will usually perform ribbon-cutting events for new businesses as well as lunches and seminars.

Try to make it out to at least two events a month. Meet the business owners and exchange business cards. When you get back to your office (or to your car), immediately try to connect with them on Linkedin.

There are usually always a few real estate meetups around town (lately it’s been all about real estate investor meetups!). The only issue is that they usually attract other real estate professionals. So unless you really want to get to know your competition, it’s probably a better idea to attend other types of meetups where they’re not – such as groups that target:

  • Retirees
  • Small Businesses
  • Arts & Crafts (assuming it’s something of interest for you)
  • Sporting and Outdoors

Here’s a super juicy tip: Create your own meetup. Nothing is better than being the center of the network. Everything flows through you – conversations, connections, and what’s going on in your network. Obviously, don’t abuse this power – it’s going to reward you for years to come. So nurture it. Love it. And keep it going! Consistency is the best characteristic of a successful meetup.


Letip is a unique networking group where membership is restricted by what industry you represent. In any LeTip group, there can only be one dentist, one real estate agent, one carpet cleaner, etc. The purpose of the group is to give each member business and to allow each member access to everyone else’s network.

This situation may seem like a dream come true, but there are a couple of issues you may run into:

  • Most Letip groups have an entrenched real estate agent. What you may want to do is get friendly with your local LeTip groups and make sure the local Presidents knows who you are. That way if a space ever opens up they know to call you up.
  • Some LeTip groups are not the best at networking. Some struggle to bring business into the group or have weak external networks. However, even in some of these weaker groups, the real estate agent does pretty well.

Letip requires a paid membership. However, you are allowed to come to a couple meetings for free so you can get an introduction and feel for the group.

Charity and Community Events

You’ll usually find about these through your chamber of commerce. Getting involved in beach cleanups, food drives, and other charitable events are a great way to show they you care about your community, while earning trust with locals.

Part of being a great real estate agent is being of service to your community. Showing that you care about the region you live in and do business in should be in your blood.

Build An Ironclad Reputation

This is the secret sauce to becoming a seasoned real estate veteran. Your reputation is crucial to getting referrals and, therefore, growing your business. After all, a real estate transaction is the most expensive transaction of most people’s lives. By serving your clients well, the more likely they will refer you to their friends and family.

As a matter of fact, anytime someone needs a referral for a good doctor, lawyer or anything really important – most people don’t go online to find that person. People ask people they trust for good referrals.

You want to be the person they refer without hesitation.

Here are some things you must do to keep your reputation up:

  • Return phone calls and emails in a timely manner.
  • Show up to appointments on time.
  • Use a reliable mortgage broker or a solution like BeSmartee to make sure your clients have access to financing (and financing that doesn’t make deals fall through).
  • Market the hell out your client’s listings.
  • Create and distribute a “What to Expect” guide to your clients so they understand the process they’ll be going through.
  • Don’t work for greed. Rather, be of service. Greed will cause you to cut corners, treat your clients less like humans and more like dollar signs. By treating people right and putting their needs before yours, you’ll last in this industry a long time!

Learn To Market Properties As If You Were Steve Jobs

Marketing properties is an art. It requires a good eye and excellent taste. If this isn’t your cup-of-tea: hire someone.

One part of building your referral network up will be determined by how well you market your clients’ homes. If you blow them away with how their property is presented online, they will surely count that as kudos when it’s time to refer you.

Here are some tips to get property marketing right:

Only Publish Beautiful Photos

how not to take a real estate photo

This is a pretty obvious tip. But we all have seen photos of properties online that look they were taken with grandma’s flip phone.

You should consider teaming up with a local photographer to take photos of your clients’ properties. There’s a lot that goes into producing great looking photographs. It takes the knowledge of lighting and framing, as well as hours inside of Photoshop.

Chances are you don’t have time for this. Once you learn the opportunity cost of spending your time on more important tasks that require your skillset (like prospecting), you’ll understand the value of outsourcing your photography.

Make Typography and Layout a Priority

Steve Jobs’ favorite class in college was typography. He took what he learned from college and fiercely applied it to Apple marketing. From package design to how fonts look on Apple computer screens – typography is just one of the painstaking details Apple never glosses over.

You should take this as a lesson from the master. Everything you publish, whether online or offline, should look like it was created by the world’s best graphic designer. This is why you should find an amazing freelance designer that can work on your marketing materials regularly.

It can take some time to find the perfect designer for your needs. It’s usually a trial and error process. But once you find that perfect designer, you’ll have a great business relationship for years to come. And don’t forget, it will reciprocate.

I recommend checking out Search their websites for flyer and website ideas for inspiration. Dribble showcases the best of the best when it comes to design.


Create a style guide for your personal brand (unless your brokerage has rules making you stick to theirs). A style guide will dictate your color palette, how your logo is to be used, the font style you’ll stick to – and other design related parameters that will make your marketing materials always look top notch.

If hiring professionals is outside of your budget, enroll in a graphic design and photography course at your local community college. You’ll have to become a master of these skills in the interim.

Build Your Own Website With The Intention Of Keeping It For Decades

The beautiful thing about having your own website is that you have 100% control of it. If you can muster an ounce of creativity, you can use it to really improve your business. Here are a few things you can do that will help you out for years:

Create Guides For Your Clients

Whether it’s a “First Time Home Buyers Guide” or “What to Expect During The Selling Process”, this content will help set expectations for your clients and make the transaction process go more smoothly. Additionally, this type of content becomes search engine bait – which can serve to bring new people to your website for years.

Additionally, you’ll cut down on print costs because every time you want your clients to read one of your guides, you can simply text or email them a link.

As a matter of fact, anything that you routinely send to your clients and prospects - you might as well host that material on your site. This can be PDF forms, guides, or surveys.

Create Unique a Webpage for Every Property Your Ever List

Never remove these pages. Because the next time it comes on the market, you’ll be the person getting traffic for that listing. Also, in general, the bigger your websites gets in terms of total pages, the more traffic it will receive.

I would advise removing photos of the inside of the house because that might be off-putting to the current tenants (even though the house interior make look different).

Try Not To Delete Content Or Change Domain Names

Deleting content will reduce your inbound traffic. A lot of website owners will recklessly revamp sites without preserving the old content. Also, constantly changing domain names or letting your domain name lapse will severely interrupt website traffic. You’re basically starting over every time you change your domain name or throw away all of your content.

Find A Mentor

Nothing will get you better prepared for your real estate career than to team up with a seasoned professional that’s willing to spend time to help you develop your skills.

Mike Work Real Estate Apprentice Quote

I saved this tip for last, because yes, it’s the best tip :). A good mentor will save you thousands of hours of hardship and probably save a good number of future deals from going south.

It can be as simple as going to some local real estate meetups, connecting with people on Linkedin and looking up their recommendations. Find the seasoned pro with the stellar Linkedin recommendations. Invite them for coffee and lunch once in a while and pick their brain.

Closing Thoughts

I hope you keep this guide with you throughout your career :) . My goal was to really set the stage as to what it takes to be a great agent.

A lot of you might be just testing the waters to see if “this real estate thing” will work out. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to go all in or go home. And really, if you want to be successful in any career, you’re going to have to be able to make a 110% commitment to be successful.

So, are you in?

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