The 30 Tools I Use For Productivity, Blogging, Social Media, & Travel (18 are free!)

I don’t know how many times I’ve said – “I wish I had more hours in the day!”

I’m sure you’ve had that sentiment as well.  Alas, 24 hours a day is all we get.  That isn’t going to change.  What can change is how much you can squeeze out of each hour.

30tools 3d cover

Before I go on, I want to make this point.  I’m not advocating becoming a workaholic – or even feeding that addiction.  I’m talking about getting more work done faster.  I’m talking about being able to have more time for what really matter.  Time for your family.  Time to take care of your health.  Time for self-development.  Time for care for your spiritual health.

Some of the most valuable posts I’ve ever read have been on the subject of productivity.  I consume that kind of information.  Everything I’ve learned about productivity apps has come from others or just tinkering with them.  All I’ve learned about traveling efficiently comes from experience and what others have shared with me.

So here is my resource list of the 30 tools I use on a regular basis to squeeze more out of every day.  I’m going to give you the highlights here, and you will be able to download it at the end of the post.

Productivity

When I did my reader survey last month, the subject of productivity was the number one topic of choice.  In this section, I give you my favorite free and paid tools for increasing your productivity.  And here’s a little hint – 1password and Tripit are completely awesome.  Awesome!

Blogging

Blogging has revolutionized my online presence.  It is not easy to do.  But it is so worth it.  The key to blogging well over time is to systematize it.  I have a few templates that I use for most posts.  It saves me a ton of time.  These are the tools I use to build my email list, optimize for SEO, etc.  These tools will save you a ton of time and allow you to maximize your ROI.

Social Media

I’m almost sick of social media.  I believe most people have accepted that social media provides value – sometimes a ton of it.  Though I’m sick of talking about, I use it everyday.  And if you’ve never heard or used BufferApp, you need to check this section out.

Travel

I traveled a ton for work last year.  I think I was on 65 airplanes.  If there is one thing I’m good at, it is navigating airports.  Traveling is a drain on your energy no matter who you are.  Being able to minimize the frustrations of travel while remaining productive saved me a tremendous amount of stress.  These are the tools I used to do it.

Bonus Section:  Recommended Books

As a bonus, I’ve included some of my favorite books in the following categories:

  • Platform building
  • Productivity
  • Business
  • Leadership
  • Stewardship
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • And others…

These are books that I’ve read and personally recommend.  I’m no expert in any of these subjects.  However, these are books that have helped me grow in these areas.

To download your copy of this free resource list, simply click the button below!

Download Your Free Resource List

11 Benefits theBrokerList Provides the CRE Industry

TheBrokerList is a powerful and free tool for CRE professionals. I asked its founder, Linda Day Harrison to share with my audience its benefits. She has been gracious enough to do so. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

First of all, theBrokerList site is FREE to its Broker and CRE Professional members and is designed to provide a place for  Brokers and CRE Professionals to hang their “digital shingle”. Our site enables our  members to transact business with verified colleagues, supported financially by the tBL Marketplace Partners.  That is the win-win theBrokerList seeks to achieve.

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The database within theBrokerList covers all CRE segments, affiliations, organizations, practice focus types, corporate networks and geographic areas, plus theBrokerList permits the inclusion of any size national organization’s local chapters, no matter how small or large.  An organization simply provides us with their member list and those members are pre-approved! In addition to supporting the search for potential colleagues and deals in different markets, this enables tBL members of these organizations and networks to utilize the powerful broadcast email feature to share HAVES and WANTS of theBrokerList platform, with laser-pointed precision to only those colleagues who wish to receive those emails. This provides extensive benefits to local or even national organizations.

tBL-Icon-512x512To help provide B2B resources for leasing, brokerage, property management and consulting, you can find a wide variety of commercial real estate experts on theBrokerList within all of the industry disciplines.  The difference we make and the added value we bring is that we verify that our members are real people (not fake profiles), and verify those members are active in commercial real estate.

Our verification process protects the quality of our site and creates the only free resource of its kind that is completely focused on only commercial real estate.

11 Benefits Provided by theBrokerList

  1. Post your professional PROFILES (backgrounds, business focus, etc.)
  2. Post, Export or Upload HAVES ( your listings for sale or lease)
  3. Post WANTS (your targets, or your client’s targets, for acquisition or lease)
  4. Post TRANSACTIONS (your completed deals you wish to note for the record)
  5. Unlimited team members, admins and property posts can be added
  6. HTML friendly text fields, and YouTube embeds on posts
  7. Unlimited URL fields and types (hyperlinks to your company or personal website, blogs, Loopnet, Showcase, and all Social Media: like Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, , etc.)
  8. Broadcast email lists automatically created for your Affiliations and Organizations
  9. HTML code for ease in posting to Craigslist, or any other online system
  10. tBL email message tool to enable selected contacts to be emailed
  11. Saved Broker and Search features

The benefits and advantages of these tools to help grow and expand the businesses of tBL members are numerous, and many of these functions have important meaning and correlate well with your social media plan and strategies.

For the more advanced social media and blogging members, direct access to the well-read tBL blog is advisable as our members can easily post their blogs on the site and be part of our exciting and constant flow of editorial content directed to a large audience of commercial real estate professionals.

A daily HAVES and WANTS email blast is also distributed, which  currently includes ALL of our member posts.  Our members’ listings are emailed to all subscribers of those lists as well.

tBL is very customer service focused.  We always answer our phones and do our best to help our members and Marketplace Partners.  We frequently discuss marketing strategies, and offer ideas on how our members can improve their image, their brand or any topic they wish to discuss pertaining to commercial real estate today. Let theBrokerList be your “BFF” and join us or ask your local organization or chapter to partner with us.  Once you do, make sure to use all of the features tBL provides to help you grow your business.

We look forward to meeting you and we kindly ask that you suggest our site to other commercial real estate professionals.  theBrokerList relies on word of mouth, and we verify all prospective members as we do not want non-CRE folks trying to join.  The more Broker and CRE Professional members we have, the more useful the site will be for everyone.  Our team is dedicated to doing the best job we can to keep our database accurate and our features useful to a wide group in CRE.

Photo credit:”Pack Of Money” by Gualberto107 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Systematically Pursue Your Former Clients in These 6 Steps

At the end of this post, you can download a worksheet that will help you put these 6 steps into instant application.

As the father of 3 young kids, I’m always finding things in the couch.  Ninja sword.  Costume jewelry.  Goldfish (the snack).  I never know what I’m going to find when I place my hand between the cushions.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Then there is the wonderful experience that comes with winter.  You put on your coat for the first time since last year and find a $20 in the pocket.  I love that feeling.  Found money.

Your previous clients are like the couch cushions and the $20 long forgotten in a winter coat.  We neglect them.  Then every so often, we lower our hands between the cushions.  I submit that you intentionally pursue these past clients.

You can re-engage your former clients by following these 6 steps.

6 Steps to Re-engage Your Past Clients

  1. Make a list – As in, make a list of all your former or inactive clients.
  2. Scrub the list – You can choose who you would like to work with.  Pursue only the clients that you’d like to work with again.
  3. Prepare – Do your homework.  Be informed.  Have they won an award recently?  Did their daughter get married?  Run a google search.  Check out their LinkedIn profile.
  4. Call 2 a week on Friday afternoons – Call 2 on the list every week.  Do it on a Friday afternoon when the week is winding down.  Make it a habit.  If you would do this every week all year, then you would contact about 100 people that have already done business with you.  These are former clients who have hired you before and actually pulled the trigger on a deal.
  5. Have something of value for them – Don’t just call them to check in.  Maximize this opportunity by having something of value to offer them.  Maybe a building sold by one of their properties and you have comp info for them.  Maybe it has been 3 years since anyone evaluated their portfolio.  Offer to do it for them.
  6. Close for the meeting – Keep in mind the you have an existing relationship.  You should know if they love to golf or would rather sit down for a quick cup of coffee.  Use that information to your advantage and be strategic.  But don’t forget to close for the meeting.  Nothing is more effective than getting face to face.

Question: So what are you going to do now? I challenge you to make your list and then do three things: first, schedule a task on your calendar for every Friday; second, send this article to a friend whom you know needs to read it; and third, tell me when you are done by leaving a comment below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download Free Worksheet

 

How to Find Your Specialty by Answering 3 Questions

At the end of this post, I will share with you how to download a free worksheet of the exercise I describe in this post. It will allow you to visually see where your sweet spot lies.

I am continually surprised by Commercial Real Estate brokers who lack a specialty.  All top performers in CRE have a specialty.  Yet, those mired in mediocrity refuse to hone in on what they can be awesome at doing.  In fact, business owners of all kinds often have this problem.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

I had a call last week with one of our advisors on the East Coast.  He was traditionally a specialist in hospitality.  Because of some changes in his life, he needed to shift his specialty to something he could practice locally.  His question was what should he specialize in.  What would you tell him?

Many of my coaching clients face this question as well.  It doesn’t matter if you are new to the business or you are mid-career.  Making this decision correctly will have a profound impact on your career.  Not only can it determine the amount of income you can make, but it can determine if you will like going to work every morning.

A CRE broker, or any business owner or salesperson, can find his/her sweet spot by answering 3 questions.

Three Questions to Find Your Specialty/Sweet Spot

1.  What do you like?

You should always start here.  What product type do you like?  What would you own if you could?  For me, I love multi-family.  I love to broker these deals.  I own this property type.  I understand it.  I don’t like industrial properties.  They don’t fit my eye.  I don’t enjoy being in industrial parks.  It just isn’t my thing.

You need to answer for yourself – what are my favorite 3 product types?  Write them down.

2.  What are you good at?

This is completely different than what you like.  Consider what you are good at.  Do you enjoy intense underwriting and analysis?  If so, multi-family might be your thing?  Do you enjoy fast paced prospecting and deal making?  If so, then maybe Single Tenant Net Lease (STNL) is your thing?  Maybe you love evaluating how the business aspect of hospitality properties and convenient stores impact value?

Again, list what product types fit your skill set.  Write them down.

3.  Where is the market velocity?

I did this exercise in 2009.  The market had dried up everywhere.  My business was suffering.  I looked around and saw that Dollar Stores were still trading at a rapid rate.  That was the only market velocity I saw anywhere in Kentucky.

Now I already told you that I love multi-family and it fits my skill set.  But no apartments were selling.  If I would have chosen apartments as the object of my prospecting campaign, I would have failed.  Instead, I began focusing on Dollar Stores.  It was a great move, and I learned to love that product type.

Look around your market.  Where is the transactional velocity?  Write those down as well.

Now look at your lists.  Where the answers to the three questions overlap is where you should specialize.  This is your sweet spot.

Now I want you to do two things:

  1. Regardless of what industry you are in, what benefits would you realize by finding your sweet spot and being known as the expert in your specialty? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  2. You have a friend that needs to find their sweet spot. I challenge you to email this post to them so they can do this simple exercise. It could change the trajectory of their career.

To download a free worksheet that will allow you to work this exercise and visually find your sweet spot, click the button below.

Download Your Free Worksheet

 

Survey: Please Help Me Choose My Book Cover

I am very excited to announce that I am almost finished with my first ebook.  In the coming weeks, I will make it available here at BoBarron.com.

Right now, however, you can play a role in helping me choose my book cover.

Below is a simple survey with four choices.  Please take 15 seconds and let me know which one you prefer.  I would be so grateful!

All you need to do is click on the cover you prefer and click the button at the bottom.  Thanks so much!

Who Else Wants to Sell More Property Faster?

If you want to really maximize your income in commercial real estate, this could be one of the most important posts that you read this year.  But first – a story.

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I remember when airbags in vehicles became widely accepted and used.  It was the late 80’s.  That made me about 11 years old.  I remember being fascinated with them.  How did they work?  How could they pop out that fast?

By the mid 90’s, however, airbags were a standard feature of all cars.  At their onset, airbags were a selling feature.  They provided such added safety during collisions.  But once they were standard, that dynamic changed.  You would never buy a car because it had an airbag.  You would hesitate to buy a car without it.

Last week, I wrote a post on the three P’s of real estate:

  1. Put up a sign
  2. Put it online
  3. Pray

The three P’s are the airbags of Commercial Real Estate – or all real estate for that matter.  This list of 3 is what anyone and everyone does.  It is a commoditized feature set.  It is the opposite of a differentiator.

You may have heard of the Broker Continuum – Finding, Winning, and Fulfilling Business.  What I am referencing in this post is moving a listing or assignment from being won to fulfillment.

So here are the steps that top performers execute with extreme discipline when they win a listing.  This is proactive marketing.

The 5 Steps of Proactive Marketing

  1. Profile the ideal buyer/customer – This is a best practice of all salespeople.  What does your ideal buyer look like?  The same applies to a piece of property for sale.  What are the top 3 best uses of that property?  Build your profile and give it a name.  Not only will this clarify the next steps, but it a great way to educate your client and demonstrate your expertise.
  2. Build a list – Once you have the profile of the ideal buyer, build a list of those prospects.  This is just like building a database for your prospecting efforts.
  3. Pursue the list
    • Direct mail – Post card use is a dying tactic, but it is so effective.  Send the ideal buyers on your list something in the mail – a post card or something else.  The mail is a cost-effective way to hit everyone on your list quickly.
    • Email Blast – I am amazed that every advisor or salesperson doesn’t have an account with iContact, MailChimp, or something like it.  You can email your list through these services and almost guarantee it will hit their inbox.  Most importantly, you can see who actually opened the email.  You can see how many times they opened it.  You can see if they clicked on a link, downloaded a package, etc.  These services are super affordable, by the way.
    • Phone Call – Use your email blast analytics to triage who to call.  If someone opened the email more than once or clicked on a link…top of the call list.
  4. Engage the Brokerage Community
    • Contact brokers with similar listings – Advisors don’t do this enough.  Make sure that all brokers who have similar listings know about yours.  Then ensure them that if they bring you a buyer who didn’t like the other listing, you will be happy to share your fee.
    • Host a broker forum – Broker forums are a lot of work to put together.  However, they produce results.  They offer the opportunity to put deals together.  They proactively encourage cooperation.  They build relationships and trust.  All of these are huge wins for your business.
    • Email blast – Don’t forget to blast the brokerage community.  Follow up with them the same way you would the ideal buyer.  The single best way to access the largest buyer pool is through the brokerage community.  Turn your competitors into your de facto agents.
  5. Utilize online ads – I’m not going to unpack this, but look into Google AdWords.  These give you the ability to buy ads that only show up to the demographic you specify.  You can seriously target your ideal profile.  This is cheap and potentially very effective.

I ask you to do two things with this information.  First, apply it to your business.  Build a system and then execute.  

Second, share with theBarronBlog community what else you do to proactively market your listings. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Do the 3 P’s of CRE Apply to You?

Last week, I  had the privilege of being in Portland, OR for a commercial real estate conferencence.  I had never been before and discovered it to be a beautiful and unbelievably clean city.  I was blown away.

Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Our Pacific Northwest franchisees put on a great training conference.  I got to speak on how to improve efficiencies with technology.  I also got to lead a couple of break out sessions on measuring outcomes and accountability.  It was a blast.

Curt Arthur, our managing director and franchise owner in Salem, OR said something there that I had to write about.

He mentioned in his opening remarks the 3 P’s.  These are the three things that typical commercial real estate brokerages do with a new listing.  He was not complimenting our industry of commercial real estate.

3 P’s of Typical Commercial Real Estate

  1. Put up a sign.
  2. Put it online.
  3. Pray that someone will bring an offer.

These are not bad things.  A sign is a great way to broadcast to locals that property is available.  Most property searches start online, so you have to make sure your listings are there.  And I am a huge believer in prayer so don’t get the wrong idea here.  For those of you who would substitute the word ‘hope’ for ‘prayer’ – hope is not a strategy.

This is called Passive Marketing.  The definition of passive marketing is to flood the market with information on all fronts, and then wait for the phone to ring.  That is simply not good enough.

But this is the norm.  Too often, a seller signs a listing contract and doesn’t hear from the broker for 6 months when it’s time to extend the contract.

The other side of the coin from Passive Marketing is Proactive Marketing.  Proactive Marketing is taking the initiative to ensure everyone who could be a buyer knows the property is available.  That takes work.  That takes a system.

So here are some questions for you to consider as you start your week.  I encourage you to ponder and share your answers in the comments section below.

  1. Is hope your strategy?
  2. Will you be described this week as proactive?
  3. In what ways will you proactively market your listings, products, or services?
  4. What are the most effective ways you proactively ensure that every qualified buyer knows about your listing, product, or service?

Question: Will the 3 P’s describe you this week? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


CRE Radio Event: Social Media Best Practices for CRE Professionals

This Friday at 3pm EST/Noon PST, I have the privilege of being one of a few featured guests on the National CRE Radio Show – Commercial Real Estate Radio with Howard Kline.  We are going to be talking Social Media Best Practices for CRE Professionals.  I have been connected with Howard Kline for a couple years via Twitter.  His radio shows are packed full of great content for CRE professionals.

courtesy of iStockPhoto

courtesy of iStockPhoto

I am also excited to be on this panel because it includes some of my favorite people in CRE:  Barbi Reuter, Michael Lagazo, and Sarah Malcolm.

Barbi (www.twitter.com/barbireuter) is the CRE Marketing & Operations Executive for PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services in Tucson, Arizona.  She is a social media all-star and one of the true pioneers of social media use in CRE.  She is also one of my favorite people.

Michael (www.twitter.com/michael_mba) is the guy who I watched to learn how to use Twitter.  He is a CRE all-star in San Diego and has forgotten more about retail than I will ever know.  He also may be the nicest guy on Twitter and will send you coffee.  What could be better??

Michael and Barbi are both founding members of the #crejavaclub on Twitter.  If you love CRE and a hot cup of joe, look us up!

Sarah Malcolm (www.twitter.com/icsc) is the Director of New Media for the International Council of Shopping Centers.  She is a social media power house.  Reading her bio on LinkedIn will force you to be out of breath.  I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about social media best practices.

I hope that you can join us on Friday as Howard normally takes questions.  You can call in with yours at (619) 393-6492.

The show description is below.  This is your opportunity to submit your social media questions ahead of time that Howard may cover.  Use the comments section below!

Show Description

Social media, social media, social media.  You hear it everywhere you go and everyone is telling you that you have to do it. Everyone else is telling you how to do it, but is anyone getting through? Is there any value to it and how much time do you have to spend on it to be of any value to you?

What about sales?  Really, isn’t that what this is supposed to be about, selling and making money?  What good does it do you if you spend 2 hours a day schmoozing online and haven’t picked up a client in 3 months?  Are there any shortcuts and gimmicks that you can rely upon to make it worth your time?

Isn’t social media all about advertising?  How many eyeballs see your name is all that counts, right?  What about relationships and trust, nice words to include in your repertoire, but do those words put food on your table or pay your mortgage?  And let’s not forget the two most chic words of 2013, “engagement” and “collaboration”. Oh, how the experts like to throw those words in your face, if for no other reason then to show you how much more they know than you.

But enough of my ranting, listen in as I discuss these issues and words and the meaning of life, (in social media), with, Barbi Reuter, Sarah Malcom, Bo Barron, Michael Legazzo and I, some of the most well know and most influential commercial real estate professionals utilizing social media to bring in the money.  We are not the social media experts.  We are the pilgrims, the veterans, the ones with the scars with stories of the things we didn’t understand, we don’t understand and what we are figuring out as we go along. We are you after you start “getting it.” We are students of social media and cre, learning as we go along, trying to figure it out and willing to share our experiences with you so that you do not have to get the same scars as us.

During the show, we will also discuss why you should be interested in social media for your business and what services, (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest, among others), you should use and for what purposes.  Property manager, logistics expert, investor, property manager; this is not a one size fits all lecture.  We will help you figure this out for your purposes.

Bo Barron, CCIM Featured in CCIM Publication – CIRE

A few months ago, the CCIM Institute asked me to participate in their System for Success series for Commerical Investment Real Estate (CIRE), their award winning publication.  I was honored to do so.

This is the link to that article where I share what I believe it takes for brokers to thrive in the current economic climate.

System for Success Article for CIRE