Real You: The Fun of Constant Learning

Recently, I hosted a a webinar for the Women’s Council of Realtors. The focus was on how to get your business up and going as a new sales associate in the real estate business. The thing is, the advice for new real estate entrepreneurs is the same for new entrepreneurs in any business. Today, you are your strongest competitive advantage. It all starts with you. Your personal brand, clearly articulated, is your killer app. Your shining story. Uniquely yours and there for you to use to connect with your perfect customer. We spent a lot of the webinar discussing personal branding and target marketing. As you know, the ability to target, truly reach the right customer at the right time, has never been better. But it’s also really confusing to folks unfamiliar with the social media tools and platforms. I know, I’m learning every day, too.

For yesterday’s presentation, I created a chart—a hierarchy of sorts of how to present the Real You on the web. It starts with your website. There, you and your company tell your story to your target audience, clearly and with passion. Next, start networking. Online, the best place to begin is LinkedIn. Next step, Facebook. And once you’re comfortable with those two platforms—and perhaps you’ve added a blog—then tackle Twitter. If you’ve done your Real You chart , the words you see in front of you should often be found in the 140 characters you post on Twitter.

Trying to explain it better, a woman named Linda chimed in. She said she’s begun to think of LinkedIn as a Chamber of Commerce Small Business Meeting. Informational, flat and decorous. She considers Facebook a business cocktail party, where people are sharing a bit more of their personal side and conversing freely. (Hopefully, not too freely). I asked, so what’s Twitter?

She hadn’t decided. So I’ve been thinking about it. I love Twitter. To me, it’s about sharing thoughts and insights closely aligned with your personal brand and business brand in the world. In that sense, perhaps Twitter is the fly on the wall at the cocktail party. Gleaning the best, most concise insights and sharing them outward. At least, that’s what Twitter can be at its best.

The best way to learn about what any of these platforms can do for you and your business—or the business you are dreaming of creating—is to jump in and learn.

Cheers! And thanks for the learning, Linda!

Real You: The Power of Twitter Babble

A new study by Pear Analytics said 40.5% of tweets are “pointless babble”. Hrumph. Yes, some of it is: “I just had the greatest new ice cream flavor.” But some of this said babble is for a point. When businesses and entrepreneurs share information important to them and their industry, insights into how they’ve achieved what they have and the like, it’s far from pointless. It’s illuminating. As Twitter has grown from small personal networks (how most people start on Twitter) to a blend of personal and professional networks of people—followers—the great potential here is to connect. These tweets humanize each of us. They connect us with like-minded people, folks who are interested in similar topics, and these simple tweets actually can lead to life-long friendships, new clients and referrals. Some of the most-followed people on Twitter provide both “useful” book-type knowledge on a regular basis AND personal insights that humanize them and build connection. And I’m talking about regular folks here; not just celebs.

So whatever it is that you’re tweeting, keep on keepin’ on! I’ve said this before, but I can’t drive home enough the many friends I’ve made, followers who have found my book through Twitter, and interviews I’ve been asked to participate in—all because of my “pointless babble”. Many someones out there think it’s a little more useful than that.

Follow me: @kairarouda.

Businesses Use Twitter to Engage Customers Online

If you haven't jumped on the social media bandwagon, hop on! More and more companies are coming up with creative ways to engage their customers online. According to Marketing VOX, a recent study indicates that more than eight in 10 Twitter users, most of which represent small businesses, expect their company's use of Twitter to increase in the next six months. Juicy Juice AdAnd if you know me, you know how much I love Twitter and believe in its power. Nestle is taking an interesting approach to get moms talking about their product. The company is running a Juicy Juice ad that asks questions like: “How do you help your child shine a little more every day?" and "How do you stimulate your child's mind?" If you go to CafeMom and BabyCenter, you can tweet your answer, and it will be live on the ad, wherever it’s running in cyberspace. Talking about the love(s) of our lives and being an online celeb for a day. Who doesn’t love that?

How are you using Twitter to grow your business and increase awareness?

It's never too late to tell you about trends, is it?

Ok, here's a funny story. My friend Stefan Swanepoel is THE real estate trends guy. He publishes a well-researched, well-read Trends Report each year and the industry folks who are smart, read it. I realize it's April, and first quarter is over, BUT I am finally reading the report! In my defense, for some unknown reason, it took two months to arrive from California to my mailbox in Ohio. (Yes, even reports don't want to visit Ohio if they're from Laguna Nigel.) But enough excuses. I learned a lot, and here are the trends that resonated with me:

1. Real estate is in the "transformation years", and those years will continue until 2012 (yikes!)

2. Social media is a real estate agent and company's friend! (yay!)

I'm not going to dwell on the negatives surrounding point 1 above, as I'm sure if you live in a home or know someone who does you've heard just about enough even if you aren't a real estate agent. But point 2 is exciting! As Stefan writes, "some 530 million individuals are now participating in some sort of social networking . . .and each person on average belongs to two or three social networks."

That's huge, in my industry and yours. If you aren't out there blogging and tweeting about your expertise in a meaningful and helpful manner—as a real estate agent it is your local market knowledge and your niche knowledge-you're missing out on customers. As Stefan writes: "Real estate professionals have an excellent opportunity to take advantage of this emerging trend by influencing others through creating meaningful content and releasing it through blogs, online communities, wikis and social networks....only 18 percent of online Americans actually create content or publish an article or blog at least once a month."

So get out there and get writing. You are an expert in your field, and you have something your tribe wants to read about. Write it, and they will follow!

Of fortune cookies and creative business for times like these

Here is what’s great about Twitter. Yesterday I tweeted about my fortune cookie message: Look for the dream that keeps coming back. It is your destiny. About three hours later, FortuneKookie Crew from Chicago followed me on Twitter. Their goal: “We like to follow people who tweet fortune messages!” Works for me!

Where else but Twitter? On a more serious business note, I was followed by the founders of Lauren Porat and her partner, Cari Sommer, created a company—beta testing in NYC right now—to connect small business owners with college educated assistants, on a paid or unpaid basis. I love hiring interns at our company. We always learn from them, and hopefully the feeling is mutual. And sometimes, when it’s possible and the fit is right, these intern positions turn into full time employment. And everybody’s a winner. In today’s tough economic environment, which is about to see an influx of college grads, interning is a great solution.

Who else have I “met” on Twitter? So many great folks! It’ll be fun to make this a regular feature of my blog. And, just like an intern, I learn something everyday! And that’s fortunate.

Kaira Rouda is an entrepreneur and author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. Sign up for a weekly dose of inspiration!