LinkedIn is a great place to connect with other real estate agents. But if that’s all you’re using it for, you’re missing out. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with local influencers, the very people who might become your next buyer or seller clients.
This week on The Walkthrough, nationally-recognized LinkedIn coach Judi Fox shares a specific plan to help you connect with local buyers and sellers, become an influencer in your community, and grow your business.
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Links and Show Notes
(SPEAKER: Matt McGee, Host)
[Sound effect: group of people talking in multiple conversations]
Matt: This is what comes to mind when I think about LinkedIn: business and networking. Connecting with other professionals in your industry. For you, that would be connecting with other real estate agents. I think of it like the conversations you have at a business conference. You’re trading phone numbers, business cards, maybe a few stories too.
But what if it’s more than that? What if you could use LinkedIn to find and connect with potential buyers and sellers in your local market, and not just use it as a tool to network with other agents? What if you could use LinkedIn to become a leader in your local community, a trusted voice, an authority, someone who’s connected to all the right people?
My guest today says the real estate industry is sleeping on LinkedIn. You’re not taking advantage of it the way you should. And today, she’s going to share exactly how to do it. What to post, why posting is actually not the main thing you should do, what your profile should look like, and so much more.
This is “The Walkthrough.”
Hello, hello. My name’s Matt McGee. I’m the editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center, and welcome to episode number 50, five zero, of “The Walkthrough.” This is a weekly podcast. We have new episodes every Monday. This is the show where you’ll learn what’s working right now, from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re on a journey to find out how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. If you want to get involved in the show, there’s a few different ways you can do that. Find me in our Facebook listener community. Just go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, and the group will come right up. You can also leave a voicemail or send a text. The number is 415-322-3328. Or send me an email. The address is walkthrough [at] homelight.com.
Let’s talk about social media. TikTok and Clubhouse are the shiny new objects in social media right now. They’re new. There’s not much competition for attention. So, that’s an opportunity to build an audience. By the way, I’m hoping to do episodes soon on both of those.
Facebook and Instagram are still super, super popular, of course. They’ve been around a lot longer. They also have mass adoption by the general public.
So, where does LinkedIn fit in all of this? Well, guess what? Right now, LinkedIn represents the best of both worlds. For the past year or two, Gary Vaynerchuk has been saying that LinkedIn today is kind of like Facebook was 10 or 12 years ago. An opportunity to build an audience without much competition, while also offering mass adoption. So, that’s the case for you to give some serious thought to being more active on LinkedIn, and also having a strategy for success there.
I know I don’t have to convince you to get on LinkedIn. In the latest NAR member profile, LinkedIn was the number two social network among Realtors, only behind Facebook. So, you’re probably already on LinkedIn, but the question is, are you using it to grow your business and stand out from the crowd?
My guest today can help you do exactly that. Judi Fox is one of the leading LinkedIn coaches in the country. She calls herself a LinkedIn business accelerator. It’s a combination of coach, mentor, and teacher. That’s also the name of the training program she offers. And yes, she counts real estate pros like you among her clients. Judi is also a national speaker, and she’s been cited countless times in publications like “Inc.,” “HousingWire,” and others.
Today, Judi is going to walk you through her proven LinkedIn business strategy. So, listen for her to talk about how to connect with the right people in your local market, why posting is not the best way to get noticed on LinkedIn, and three LinkedIn profiles that you can R&D: rip off and duplicate. Get ready to take a lot of notes in this one. Make sure your marketing person is listening, too. This is sort of a LinkedIn masterclass in about 30 minutes.
As our conversation begins, I’ve just said to Judi that I think of LinkedIn as a place for agents to network with other agents. Listen in as she explains how it’s a lot more than that.
Judi: LinkedIn, I will be aggressive here and say blow up B2B, B2C, B2Z, B2F, whatever letter of the alphabet, literally, it’s like bomb to bomb. That’s what I call B2B now. Like, I just don’t believe that exists on LinkedIn the way that we thought of it. Human…it’s H2H, it’s human beings doing business with other human beings. The gatekeeper for that referral is one particular human being that just happens to be a networker.
So, I like to look for two things. My early, early boss told me to look for people with brains, energy, and enthusiasm. Go out and find BEEs. So, when we think of H2H, people are like, “How do you do that?” And I’m like, “I’m looking for BEEs.” Like, zzz, bee, not the letter B. And then BEE, brains, energy, enthusiasm, so that way, I know who I want to send messages and interact with, and I can just tell. You can tell when you start thinking about it like that.
The second thing is I’m looking for three qualities from Tipping Point. I’m looking for connectors, mavens, and persuaders. And I’ve detailed out how to actually spot them on LinkedIn, because those personalities will make your referrals better, your business better, your visibility better. And we do actually go further with other people in collaboration.
Matt: Right. So, you’re saying, don’t go into it thinking just as a place to connect with other agents. The opportunities are there to connect with non-agents in your local area, if you do it right.
Judi: Correct. Because there are all those personalities I just mentioned. There is somebody in, you know, a parallel industry. Say, for example, accounting and tax and everything like that, they do people’s taxes. Well, when you’re doing your taxes, you probably talk about your opportunities for your dreams, your future, your goals. There’s investment opportunities. There’s people who are doing financial planning. And all of these people can funnel into being a referral to, “Wow, I know in my financial plan, I wanted to buy a house.” Who are they going to refer you to?
Matt: Let me ask you just a purely logistical question, for somebody who has never tried to make these local connections on LinkedIn. We just get on LinkedIn, search for our city name, and see who comes up, and look who the connectors are, the influencers, that sort of thing?
Judi: I would look for the hashtag. So, I would go into the search area and I would see who is actively trying to create content in your local area. So, I would either start with local hashtags, like hashtag, I don’t know, you said you’re in Washington state, right?
Matt: Yes. And actually, there’s two hashtags that I see on social media. There’s #tricitieswa, for our area, and #lovethetri. Two fairly well-known hashtags.
Judi: I’d be interested to see, number one, who’s trying to use them on LinkedIn. I’d be curious. I’ve come into LinkedIn, if I was brand new or I didn’t quite know where I wanted to put my feet, or, most people think, and I know we’re going to get there, but most people think I want to get on LinkedIn, and they immediately think, “What am I going to post?” That is self-focused.
Matt: Yes. That’s always the first question.
Judi: That’s not how LinkedIn operates. LinkedIn has made it extremely clear they want conversation, and they want community.
Matt: Let me dive a little bit deeper into what you were just talking about, not being self-focused, but being other-focused. This story, I assume, won’t surprise you at all. Three, four years ago, I’m doing marketing for my wife’s real estate team. We decide to create a team page on LinkedIn, set it all up, the logo, all that sort of… And then I start posting, “Here’s our latest listing for sale,” “Here’s our latest listing for sale,” “Here’s our latest blog post on the local housing market.” Miserable failure. That’s probably not a surprise to you, is it?
Judi: So, first, don’t get on the platform and think, “I’m just going to create links and send people somewhere.” We have to trust you. We have to trust that you’re sending us to someplace that’s worth our time. So, the only way you trust people is yes, if you build out your personal profile, and you don’t try to send us from the company page to a link. I’m going to trust when Matt sends me a link, and if Matt sends me a direct message or something because we’re friends and we’re besties and we’ve been hanging out for years, and Matt now sends me something on my phone, I’m just putting you in the hot seat, I’m going to get, “Oh yeah, I’ll click on that.” Because he knows me and he knows what I would like to see. Like, that’s the kind of energy. So, that personal energy, you can maintain it, but you can do it on your personal profile. It’s much harder to build it from the company page from scratch. Because a company sending me to a link is like, “Well, thank you very much company XYZ trying to send me to a link.”
Matt: Okay. So, if there’s agents out there that run teams, try to do your LinkedIn presence through your individual profiles, not from a team page. Because that creates the personal connection, the personal trust that you’re talking about.
Judi: But I’ll tell you a fun trick that they can do. Not a trick. A good strategy for those teams is to open up your thought process around how to highlight those people. If people are posting, and they’re sharing to their personal profile, they’re sharing…when I say sharing, their original content, they are saying, “Hey, here’s a great post.” “Here’s a great blog post I wrote about the current trends in our industry.” Whatever they’ve shared, right? They’ve posted it on their personal profile. The company, the team page that we call company pages, they, that company, can click the share button, and share it over to the company page. It’s more powerful to share your collective individual voices as a collection of voices underneath that company page.
Matt: Stop. Let me jump in here, because Judi just gave terrific advice for those of you with a LinkedIn page for your team or your brokerage. Since trust and connections are stronger at the personal level, she says have your team members share from their personal profiles, and then you use the team page to reshare their content. You’re basically using your team page or profile to sort of curate what your team members are saying and doing.
Now, we’re talking about LinkedIn. I actually think this advice would also work on Instagram, Facebook, probably any social media platform. Post from personal accounts, then reshare from the team or company page. I love it. All right. Let’s get back to the conversation. We’re talking about what to post on LinkedIn. And listen closely, because Judi says posting should not be your main focus.
Matt: What else do you say when your clients, be they in real estate or anywhere else, when they ask you, “What should I be posting?” What else do you tell them?
Judi: “Stop thinking about posting.” The first thing I tell them is, like, back up the truck. I want to merge you onto the highway, the superhighway of visibility on LinkedIn. So, think of it as like merging onto the highway. You got your driver’s license. You’re a little bit nervous. I think every single person listening right now can imagine that first time they ever had to merge onto a highway. Do you remember doing that? I do.
Matt: Scared to death. Yep.
Judi: I remember who was in the car, because I was like, “I hope I don’t get anyone hurt in this current experiment. We are all driving. I am driving 60 miles per hour with my peers, my other 16-year-old kids in the car.” I don’t know how they let us all do that. But the point is, merging onto a highway was super scary. That’s how I feel like people think about LinkedIn, and they think, “Let me get onto the content highway.” Think of content as the fast lane. So, that’s where you’re getting your visibility. You’re on the fast lane. You’re a confident driver. You already knew, you’re like, “Oh, I’m in the fast lane.” Do you merge on the highway? Now, if you’re, maybe if you’re a bad driver, but some people merge on the highway. As 16-year-olds, they should be merging and just only going into the slow lane, if you think of the correct lanes and you’re not one of those people.
But the fast lane is over here. Merge onto to the, not, like, into the natural flow of the conversation, and that is with commenting. And the reason why, there’s one thing that happens with commenting, LinkedIn shows your comments to your community. I will repeat that. If you have 100 followers on LinkedIn, those 100 followers will see your comment as content. So, your comments are posts. And if you treat them as posts, they can get you a ton of visibility. A ton. Not a little, a ton.
Matt: If I’m hearing you right, you’re saying don’t just hop on LinkedIn and start posting stuff right away from your…but look for other people’s posts and add value in the comments?
Judi: Mm-hmm. So, as an example, I saw Gary Vaynerchuk. I’m putting him in the hot seat because he is a powerful account to comment on, but only if you do it strategically, and smart. And I give you those five strategies, but you have to do it smart. So, there’s two things. You can comment on somebody big, a hot audience. And you can also comment in your niche, where you’re commenting and engaging with other agents, other financial planners, or people who are in parallel industries, or just fricking go out and have a good time, and comment on something you found interesting or parallel, like maybe you love talking about the books you read, and maybe you love mindset. Maybe you love morning routines, and you get into a lane of people who are all, like, a highway of people talking about self-habits and care, self-care kind of content. So, be open to other subjects. Don’t just be so like, “I only talk real estate and I list my listings.” Like, we want to work with people who are relatable.
Matt: So, A, commenting is really important. B, make it relatable. You talked about being willing to comment on the big accounts. What other commenting strategies are working these days?
Judi: So, I created, and I tell people to create a top 10 list. Now, that top 10 list can change if you want. You can pick three people who are your current clients. You can look, and if you don’t see anything active happening, that’s okay, move on. And again, three people who are current clients, or three people currently active in that hashtag, the niche hashtag. So, again, if you don’t find anyone active, go find somebody active. And then, three people who you would love to work with, or it could be referral partners. Three referral partners active on LinkedIn that you think, “Oh my gosh, if they started referring business my way…” and they’re pretty active. And then three kind of voice amplifiers, where they have a podcast, they have something that is very intriguing to you.
So, the next person is the wild card. So, you want to maybe pick somebody you just enjoy. Maybe they’re a little bit bigger. Maybe they have a huge following, and you just want to stay engaged. Maybe it’s Arianna Huffington. Maybe you love Thrive Global. Maybe it’s somebody that talks about movies all the time, and they’re a movie executive. I have no idea. So, that’s your wild card. And those are the people, your top 10 list. And what’s interesting is I picked a top 10 list about four or five years ago, and that top 10 list has never changed. That’s me, but what’s interesting is going deeper with 10 people on LinkedIn that were active, they all were active accounts. So, you don’t want to pick somebody that doesn’t like LinkedIn or isn’t using it. You want to pick people who look like they could stay active, and actually like the platform, and they’re kind of all in, and they’re really there. They haven’t dialed it out. And you can just tell when somebody’s dialed it out to an agency to run it for them, and not be there.
Matt: You’ve got your top 10 list, and then what are you doing? How are you engaging with them?
Judi: You are consistently commenting on them.
Judi: So, you are showing up in their comments, engaging, because their content makes you look good when you comment on it. Early comments matter, so that’s why I tell people to pick a top 10, because then you can stay consistent and you can start noticing, oh, they always post at 9:00 a.m. If you’re hopping around to 10 different people all the time, or you’re letting the news feed dictate who you should comment on, that doesn’t serve you. What serves you is early commenting. If you can be on somebody’s content early, that is powerful. That gets you more visibility to their audience. So, Arianna Huffington has 9 million followers. Now you can see why Gary Vaynerchuk can give the advice that he gives. He has 4 million hot followers. If you are an early commentor, you are guaranteed to get visibility. Guaranteed.
But only if you’re early. If you’re late, if you’re past an hour or two, you won’t be a top comment. So, you can still comment, it’s not going to be wasted, but it won’t get the same visibility as if, like, my face, when I’m like, “Oh my God, this person posted five minutes…” Like, literally, if I catch it and it’s like two minutes ago they posted this, I’m like [types fast on keyboard]. Like, I am typing like a madwoman to put out an amazing comment. So, I did that. I caught an early comment on Gary Vaynerchuk one day. And I wasn’t obsessed. I wasn’t trying to follow and get an early comment, but I caught it. And I was like, I did that, and I ended up with 200 or 300 likes and comments on my comment.
Matt: Wow. And then once you get…so, that happens to a real estate agent, for example, they get 200 or 300 likes or reactions on their comment. What happens after that?
Judi: People check out your profile. And that’s where you want your profile built to sell.
(Announcer: Do you know someone who has a great story to tell or is someone who has a real estate superpower they can teach other agents? They should be a guest on “The Walkthrough.” Whether it’s you or another agent you know, we’re always looking for new guests to join us. Think about what you would teach if you were asked to lead a class for the agents at your office. Send names and topics to walkthrough [at] homelight.com, and tell us why you want to hear them on “The Walkthrough.”)
Matt: You just heard Judi talk about having a profile that’s built to sell. You need that, because people will check you out when they see you leaving quality comments on LinkedIn. “Who is this person?” I asked Judi to share a few LinkedIn profiles as examples of this. And she gave me three names: Barry Wolfe, Chris Ressa, and Beth Azor. They all work in commercial real estate. I’ll link to their LinkedIn profiles from today’s show notes, so that you can see for yourself. As we get back to the conversation, I’ve just asked Judi to explain what she means by having a profile that’s built to sell.
Judi: Building it out to sell does two things for you as a real estate agent. Number one, if you don’t create any content, that’s okay, because if you build it out to sell, if somebody Googles your name and decides to click on your LinkedIn, because almost every single agent that I have seen out there at least had some point created a LinkedIn profile, and then you click on it, and that is a wasted opportunity to not immediately process them through. They could be processed to a call. They could be processed to your website. They could be moved to a podcast episode you’ve been on. They could be moved to your listings, your available properties.
Barry Wolfe has built his profile out to sell him. And I love that. Because if he stopped making content tomorrow, which he makes great content, he’s had a post go to, like, 50,000 views recently, he’s had thousands and thousands of likes and comments, millions of views. And he’s now reaching almost 30,000 followers. So, great success. Love it. What I will say is his profile is built in a way that when you look at it, it is funneling people into the highest converting pieces. You’d have to look at it, and then just think about it. He has his testimonials visible, right there. Yes, they’re down below, yes you can scroll on LinkedIn down below, but as much as you can move above the fold, what do we think about why do we hire people? I hire people because they come highly recommended.
Matt: You talked about this idea…we talked about the merging onto the highway.
Judi: I got you in the slow lane.
Matt: Exactly. Start out in the slow lane. Don’t immediately get out there and start, like, just spamming and jamming all your links and your blog posts and all your houses for sale. Start out with high-quality comments, and then use the comments to pull people over to your profile, right? If you have high-quality comments, they’re going to want to check out your profile, and that’s where it’s okay to sort of sell who you are, and tell your story.
Judi: Yes, you have earned the right to get them to click onto your profile, by providing a high-quality comment out in the world, out on the content, and then swoop on over, and get on the fast lane. Now, you’re just cruising. You’re not even driving anymore. You’re on, like, what, like a monorail thing that you, like, click your car into and it’s, like, driving for you.
I’m commenting at least two high-quality comments per day. That’s not that much. I’m on what’s called my… So, you go ramp up, I want visibility, sustainability. I have my master’s degree in business sustainability, and that’s what this is all built on. This is built on the back of myself saying, I, as a single parent, especially now that we’ve gone through the pandemic, this has been tested. Like, it’s been tested hardcore, and it’s been tested by my clients, because my clients have now gone through.
And so, all this advice is coming from a place of, like, aggressive testing. So, when people don’t…how do I say this? I literally tell clients on week two that I work with them, stop posting. Stop it. Stop it. I don’t care. I don’t care if you have a planner. I don’t care if you hired a social media manager. I don’t care, stop. Because we don’t care about what you’re saying in your posts unless you actually build trust in your comments. We will only care more about what you post when we actually see you joining the conversation, and then you’ll make sense when you make a post. You don’t make sense to the platform when you post from a place of not knowing the conversation.
Matt: What about the friction that an agent might have between deciding to share business-type content versus more personal-type content?
Judi: So, there’s private and then there’s potentially personal. So, maybe don’t confuse what is actually private. I am actually extremely private in some ways. Like, extremely private. But people feel like they get to completely know me. And I’m not saying I’m hiding anything from anyone. I just, we don’t have to post about everything. So, what I tell people is you can have a bit of a story. Maybe there’s a story wrapped up in your first listing. And there’s some story, just a tiny little thread, not the whole story, maybe not the moment where you, like, cried in your car or, like, I don’t know what happened, but the point is there’s gotta be some thread of a story.
“I learned the art of the follow-through. I learned about following up in my business, from my first listing.” And that’s the story. It’s like I get to open a magazine of you and be like, “Ooh, she wrote a little story, a little blurb in that section in a magazine.” You don’t have to think about selling at that moment. You just have to think about sharing that story. And at the bottom of that post, you earn the right to mention, because you’ve earned it. You’ve earned your story. You’ve earned your lesson. You’ve earned offering a little bit of value. I know the word “value” is, like, super overused right now, but you’ve earned something up there. We’re sold on stories. We want to hear your story to be able to work with you and be sold by you. So, down at the bottom, you can actually either say something like, “Check out my profile for any current listings.” You’ve earned it, at the bottom, like, not mixed in, but just as a byline at the bottom, like a signature. Kind of like you put your signature at the bottom of an email. Give us your signature. What is your signature at the bottom?
If you look at my posts, I have a signature. And my clients start to have signatures. So, I go through what I consider a sales-closing signature on every single post on LinkedIn. Every post, you get a chance. I call it my…it’s like, again, I don’t, like, worship Gary Vaynerchuk, but I sound like him sometimes because I believe it’s that jab, jab, right hook. Well, how do you do jab, jab, right hook on LinkedIn? How do you actually do it? And it’s not the full post jabbing and jabbing and then right hooking. People think, “Oh, I need to jab, jab, and then make a post all about selling myself.” No, no, no, no. Jab is a light signature. Jab, it’s like light punch, harder punch, and then knock out, because you can always be punching at the bottom of your posts. So, punch somebody today at the bottom of your post.
Matt: As long as you’ve told a good, interesting, relatable story first.
Judi: Yeah. Something, something. It could be anything. It could be… I made a post one time about launching my business, just the post about launching my business. I made it September 2018, when I officially launched the full LinkedIn Business Accelerator. That post was ultimately about telling you that I launched my business, but it didn’t open like that. It opened with what is your favorite quote that you live by? And then I shared my favorite quote, because a leader just doesn’t leave you hanging and force you to carry the weight of the conversation, because that’s weird. I shared my favorite quote. And then I shared why, like a tiny little why, and then I shared, “I’m super excited to tell you that I launched my business.” That’s how you do it.
(Speaker: Matt McGee, Host)
So, who else besides me is ready to take another look at LinkedIn? I actually started trying some things there last week, following Judi’s advice, of course, and we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll do a One More Minute segment soon, telling you all about my LinkedIn experiences.
As I mentioned earlier, Judi has a LinkedIn training program, and real estate agents are often among her clients. It’s called LinkedIn Business Accelerator, and you can learn all about it at judifox.com. That’s Judi with an I, judifox.com. She offers some free downloads there to sort of give you a taste of what the program is all about. And I’ll link to her website in today’s show notes. You can also find Judi on all the social networks. And hey, if you’re on Clubhouse, I highly suggest you follow her there. She is often sharing lots of smart advice in the real estate rooms and in other rooms, as well.
Speaking of smart advice, let’s do our takeaways segment. This is what I wrote down in my notes from my conversation with Judi Fox.
Takeaway number one, LinkedIn is all about conversation and community. It’s not about dropping links and self-promotion. She said, don’t be self-focused, be others-focused.
Takeaway number two, it’s not just about networking with other real estate agents. Judi says you should look for local leaders and connectors, search local hashtags for your hometown, and see who’s posting. Create a top 10 list with a few big names in your industry, and then some of those local influencers. Follow those people and engage with them consistently. That’s how you get more local visibility and connections.
Takeaway number three, approach LinkedIn kind of like you’re merging onto a highway, right? You start out in the slow lane. So, start by commenting on other people’s posts. High-quality comments will then bring people to your profile, and that’s where it’s okay to sell them on who you are. Judi mentioned three profiles that you can look at for inspiration: Barry Wolfe, Chris Ressa, and Beth Azor. I’ll link to those profiles in today’s show notes.
Takeaway number four, Judi tries to make at least two high-quality comments per day. That’s how you build trust and get people to care about what you’re going to post later.
And then takeaway number five, when you do start posting, Judi wants you to focus on stories. Don’t just drop links to your listings and your blog posts. Again, community and conversation. Tell stories, and then once you have people’s trust, it’s okay to sign off your posts with a little call to action, but just make sure you’ve shared something valuable first.
Okay. If you have any questions or feedback about today’s episode, you can get in touch a couple different ways. Leave a voicemail or send a text. The number is 415-322-3328. You can send an email to walkthrough [at] homelight.com, or just find me in our Facebook listener community. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, the group will come right up, click the join button. If you’re listening to this podcast, you should definitely be in our listener community.
That is all for this week. Thank you so much to Judi Fox for joining me. Thank you for listening. Hey, could I ask a quick favor before you go? If you get a minute, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. That would be awesome if you do that. And be sure to also hit that subscribe button so that you get all of our future shows automatically.
My name is Matt McGee, and you’ve been listening to “The Walkthrough.” At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re on a journey to find out how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable.
Go out and safely sell some homes. I will talk to you again next week. Bye-bye.
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