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Building Relationships: There Isn’t An App for That

Brooke Wolford

By Brooke Wolford

We have all gotten sucked into this world of technology. We do everything we can to stay on top of what’s new and hot and purchase the latest iAnything. Even I can’t help but admit that that I do like the “shiny” things in life. However, the other evening, I looked over at my 10-year-old son. My son has his own laptop, iPod, cellphone, and every gaming system imaginable. He’s learning a ton about technology and is even dabbling in learning how to code. Being the techie that I am, I feel proud. But while watching him type on his computer, listen to his iPod, and simultaneously check his cellphone, I began to think about the possibility that he was missing out on basic relationship building opportunities. I think for many of us, we are heading down the same path.

Recently, at the St. Paul Area Association of REALTORS® YPN Smarty Pants Tech Bar, a lot of agents were asking technology-related questions like, “What apps should I be using?” and “Why and how should I use social media?” Many seemed overwhelmed. They all wanted to know, “What gadget or social media site will solve my latest business problem?” I sat at the gathering knowing that it was this question itself that was their greatest problem of all.

The truth is, it’s not all about technology. Sometimes, the best way to fix something is on our own without any devices or gadgets, because in the end, nothing is ever going to replace human contact. At the 2012 Massachusetts Conference for Women, Arianna Huffington warned against this while delivering her keynote speech: “If we don’t learn to disconnect from technology and really connect with ourselves, we will become fried,” she said.

As REALTORS®, we still have to connect with our clients, and the more times we reach out to them behind a computer, tablet, or cellphone screen, the farther away from them we’re really getting. Think of those moments when you show a client a home and they instantly fall in love right before your eyes. Personally, as an agent, that is one of my favorite moments and something I really enjoy about being an agent. No amount of technology is ever going to replace that.

The real dilemma with technology is that it causes people to hide behind text messages, e-mails, cellphones, and social networks instead of communicating directly. It’s still very important to reach out to your clients offline. People still crave human contact and always will. Yes, some of the technology out there will help you be more productive, but you should be spending the time saved to personally connect with the consumer and be present in their lives.

Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Woodbury, Minn.  Follow her blog at www.thehousingword.com.

Comments
  1. Brooke, thanks for the article, your topic and perspective are timely. I’ve been a broker and agent for over 25 years. As I work with newer, younger agents in our sales office, this issue of interpersonal communications repeatedly comes up. I’ve heard all the arguments about Gen Y and Millenials having grown up on the internet, etc. But as longterm real estate professionals know, this is a relationship business. I encourage our agents to use email, Facebook, texting, etc. for simple data transmission or once you have a solid relationship with the client, but use phone and face to face meetings during relationship building period.

  2. I agree with your article! It’s hard to stop trying to learn everything there is to learn about all this new technology. The most important things in our lives are our relationships. I have to stop myself so many times from emailing or texting and see someone in person or call them. It’s where it all starts and ends, in our personal relationships.

  3. I agree and find real estate is a people business and that is what I like the best.

  4. Right on Brooke, it’s about taking the online conversations off line. Letting technology speed up your response times and communication avenues not add another “thing to do” each day! Thanks for all you do!

  5. People do not truly have the opportunity to Know You, Like You and Trust You through a voicemail or email or Blog and that is the basis of establishing a lifelong Client relationship.

  6. Well said. I’m working on edition six of my book “Your Succesul Real Estate Career.” It’s aimed primarily at folks considering a career in real estate and those new to the profession. My problem in updating the discussion on technology is that by the time I finish a sentence, the informtion is obsolete. So I simply focus on the importance of interpersonal skills and cite links to get updated technology information. The Realtlor website is the best I’ve found for that. Dr. Ken Edwards GRI

  7. Great Article! It’s so easy just to shoot a text or email. I’ve learned keeping verbal and face to face contact is very important! Thanks for touching on this topic!
    Tamra Provines, Realtor at Smith Co Auction & Realty Woodward Ok real estate

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