Real Estate Initial Impressions…

So it’s been three or four weeks since I passed the test.  That very next day, I walked into a brokerage which is lead by a guy I was put in contact with probably four or five months ago–Matthew Sutter, at Keller-Williams Capital Properties in Fairfax, VA (or, KWCP, for short).  He and I shook hands, sat down, and I signed the papers which would make me officially affiliated with KWCP as a real estate salesperson.

I did some homework and met with a Long and Foster broker out here near the house before I signed up with KW; she was pleasant, but never once mentioned the words “building a team” or “managing your business,” whereas I’ve known that a major emphasis is put on that at KWCP since well before I was licensed.  I chose KWCP mainly because Matt turned out to be one of the first people I’ve ever mentioned my big, hairy, audacious goal to who literally didn’t flinch when he heard it.   See, Matt’s a special breed.  He seems like he’s barely older than me–35, max–and he’s achieved a 7th-level business in Austin, TX, and moved here to northern VA as a Team Leader (downplaying title for a CEO within KW) to get this office off the ground.  They have grown like crazy over the past three years, making it onto the Inc. 5000 list for all three of them–almost unheard of for companies, especially for a real estate brokerage firm.  He’s fit, (presumably) financially stable, driven, and successful.  The day I met this guy, I remember thinking, “I want this to be me in ten years.”

At this point, I’m a licensed real estate agent, but I’m still finding my direction.  I show up to team meetings every couple of weeks, and do whatever I can to help out during them or other office-related events; this is mainly because I have learned how to be a good worker and houseguest over the past ten years–and both are successful doing these things among company old and new.  But the fact is, I’m still adjusting to the entrepreneurial aspect of this, and despite the comfort I take from feeling helpful, doing what I can to help out around the office carries the same productivity level as spending three hours designing a business card:  Exactly zero.

The truth is, I’m not quite sure what it is I’m supposed to do yet.  They say that the hours between 9 and 12 should be spent “Lead Generating,” whatever the heck that means…I’ve heard some agents say they cold-call everyone and their mother, and others say they have never had to bother with it.  Still others say they’ll knock on doors, or focus on a technology-based lead generation system.  I’ve learned that there are probably ten good ways to generate leads, but I don’t know which one suits me.  Hell, I haven’t tried a one of them yet.

I may not be a lead-generating monster yet, but I haven’t stopped networking.  The book to the left of this column has blown my mind on several levels, but one of them really struck a chord with me:  Networking is best done around a dinner table.  Think about it: people tend to open up and show their colors when there’s food–and plenty of wine–around, and for me personally, I get so energized around meeting new people that I decided to have the first of many dinner parties to come, in a week or so.  Heading into the holiday season, we’ll probably only do one more–if that–but come the new year, we’ll be running them probably once a month.

The great thing is, it isn’t even about the food.  A homemade meal is almost universally appreciated (even if it’s terrible, people usually appreciate the effort), but something I learned from “the Orange Book,” as I call it, is that the point is to get people around the table.  It’s a traditional, communal thing for us humans to do this, and I have a firm belief that around a table is where humans are at their most intimate (excepting the obvious other place that they are, of course!).  It’s true now, among all of my closest friends in my adult life, but it’s also been true among all sides of my family since I was a kid.  In my family, there’s been a kids’ table and an adults’ table since I could remember–simply because we couldn’t fit 25 or 30 people around the table–but it didn’t matter.  When a hilarious story comes up, it’s usually shared with the whole room, no matter who’s sitting where.  Christmases, Thanksgivings, Pool Parties, July 4th Parties, Tailgate Parties…everyone gets together, eats too much, pops that belt buckle out a notch, and talks candidly about politics, football, opinions on so-en-so’s kid heading down the wrong path–it’s all there, and it’s all because of food (and beer or wine…and in some cases, Bag-O).  I feel very close with a good majority of my cousins simply because of that time we spent each year hanging out and catching up.  It’s still the same as it ever was…only now the kids’ table is all grown adults, and some of them have their own kids to look after 😉

The really great thing is that I’m expecting between 6 and 12 people to show up for dinner, but it really isn’t to corral them into buying something or giving me leads.  I’m not selling timeshares in the Carribbean, for god’s sake.  In fact, I don’t want to talk shop much at all (unless it comes up naturally) because I won’t subject my friends to any kind of manipulation just because they’re a captive audience.  That’s just crappy, far as I’m concerned.  I really just enjoy the company of people around my dinner table, and I love introducing people to each other who can help each other accomplish things, or just get along well.  One of my best friends told me once, “You’re the glue that keeps this group together;” well, now I’m starting to take that seriously, and make it into something bigger than myself.  Here’s to the journey!

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