We’re certainly in an unprecedented time, but some of us are adapting a little easier than others because we’ve worked from home for over a decade. We’ve spent the time and money learning the lessons and overcoming many of the challenges.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is figuring out how to forge relationships with people you only see once or twice a year. And while people remain skeptical that this is even possible, I must tell you, once you figure it out… it’s no different than building relationships in person.
Let’s think about this from a business perspective for a moment, because I think there are 2 big misconceptions when people start working from home and taking their relationships “online”:
Be Realistic About How Many Relationships You Can Maintain
First, I think people start to believe their sphere of influence can and even should be unlimited in size. Not only is it unrealistic to think you can maintain quality relationships with a large number of people, it’s just not necessary for your business.
Much like face to face interactions, there are only so many online relationships you can maintain at a given time. Let’s think about going to a party (in those days of yore when parties were still a thing). At a small party of 10 people, you have a great chance of having a real conversation and building relationships with everyone there. However as that party grows to 100 or 200 people, you’re presented with an option. You can have those same 10 relationship-building conversations, or quickly shake hands with everyone in the room. Most folks pick a combination of the two.
Let’s add to this, that relationships break down over time. So you need to reinforce each of those conversations after the fact, which either means a lot of face to face with the same people, or consistent communication in between.
It’s simple math really, to figure out the balance between how many relationships you can truly manage, to how many relationships you actually need to hit your income goals. As some of the top real estate agents in the World have demonstrated, you need to maintain 250 quality relationships to make six figures a year.
Use a Mix of Personal Contacts
Second, some folks treat their “online” relationships differently than they would treat their friends and family. Some great examples of this are things like:
- Text messages with signatures
- Direct emails with headers and graphics
- Long, business like messages on Facebook Messenger
- Newsletters with nothing but real estate information
People do business with those they Know, Like and Trust. One of the easiest and best ways to break the barrier between being someone they “know” vs. “like” is to get them to associate you with their friends. This includes using things like familiar language or dialogue and humor in the right spots. Essentially, if you wouldn’t communicate that way with a friend or family member, you shouldn’t do it with a business relationship either.
Automate What You Can (Reinforce Personal with ‘Personal Looking’)
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that making 250 calls, or personally messaging 250 people every month can be challenging, especially on top of what you’re already doing. Making time for this level of intimate contact with your list is critical though.
So how do you do it all then?
Get smart with automation! That’s right, you can still use technology to save you time here, but you need to be selective with how you use it. Everything you send should look ‘personal’ regardless of whether it is. Steer clear of highly-designed, slick marketing pieces and trade up to things like greeting cards, postcards – or one of your best options, a personal newsletter.
Personal content humanizes your brand and creates a sense of accountability between you and your contact. When someone you know sends you something valuable that ‘they created’ you feel almost a sense of obligation to look at it and return that value – this is called ‘reciprocity’ and is the exact dynamic you are looking to create with your marketing.
A great example of this and something that’s used by a lot of members of our community is the Service For Life! Newsletter. It’s a type of marketing that we call “shockingly down home” so it looks like you created it yourself as personal correspondence. Plus it uses the core principles of Direct Response Marketing like helpful “How-To” articles, trivia, tips and humor to engage your readers and build personal relationships with your sphere of influence.