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

Why I’ve Left Sperry Van Ness

With a new year comes new opportunities.  As 2014 starts, I have left Sperry Van Ness to pursue a new opportunity.  I want to share with you what I’m going to be up to and how it will affect my blog.

photo from iStock

photo from iStock

Before I do that, I want to share why I’ve left Sperry Van Ness.  Anytime you leave an organization of any kind, it raises questions.

  1. Was he fired?  No – I wasn’t.
  2. Did he see behind the curtain and hate what he saw?  Negative.
  3. Did he not like the people he was working with?  That is absolutely not the case.
  4. Did an opportunity fall into his lap that he couldn’t ignore?  Bingo.

I started my commercial real estate career the day after I got out of the Marine Corps in 2004.  I was literally fumbling around my dad’s office the following day.  In 2008, we franchised our business with Sperry Van Ness.  After nearly 5 years of proudly flying the SVN flag, I took the corporate position I just left as VP of Organizational Development.

That means that over half my grown-up career years have been with SVN.  I’ve generally strayed away from writing about SVN.  It seemed disingenuous since they wrote my paycheck.  As that is no longer the case, I want to share a few things about SVN.

The People

I remember when we franchised.  I was told that companies franchise for the tools and stay for the people.  I thought that if they were half right about the quality of the franchisees and advisors, I’d be satisfied.  They were right.

I could name dozens of business owners and top performers within SVN that were happy to help me, expand my thinking, teach me how they did business, and even mentor a kid from Western KY.  I will forever be grateful that I was associated with these fine people and can call them friends.

The Platform

I’m a techie – but just in the sense that I love to use technology.  I have no idea how any of it works.  I am much like the guy that can tell time but is in no way a watch-maker.

SVN has the finest technology platform that exists in commercial real estate today.  Admittedly, my experience is myopic so let me share with you why I know this is true.  A portion of my job has been to seek out and recruit preferred vendor relationships with the many outstanding CRE technology companies.  The comment I heard most often was that CRE is in the stone-ages technologically speaking and we wish the other nationals were more like SVN.

Our Their technology platform is cutting edge, cloud based, and brand agnostic.  It is designed with the purpose of making our the SVN advisors more productive and efficient – but ultimately more profitable.

The Model

SVN is a franchise model.  As such, all of our the independently owned and operated offices are led by entrepreneurs.  We generally compete with big nationals that are corporate stores full of employees.  There is a huge difference.  It is entrepreneurial spirit versus resources.

If you’ve seen The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, you will remember him leading a small group of militia.  Their job was to inflict as much pain on the British redcoats as possible.  The redcoats had overwhelming numbers and resources. They would line up in their perfect lines and fire away.  They also made great targets.

Gibson’s troop would use guerrilla tactics to outwit and outmaneuver his opponent.  This reminds me of the entrepreneurial spirit of SVN.

So What’s Next

I have bought into a start-up technology company in the food safety industry called Hollison Technologies.  I’m providing a link to the website, but please don’t go there.  It is dated and vague and one of my first orders of business.

Hollison has a patented process of collecting the air around particulate food (think pieces of food like dog food or breakfast cereal) to test for contaminants.  That may not sound very exciting or earth shattering, but consider what it will replace.

The method of testing now is random grab sampling.  It is literally taking a sample at random and testing it.  If the sample is contaminated, that batch doesn’t ship.  If the sample is clean, the batch ships.

The problem is you make a leap of faith that a clean sample means a clean batch.  You only have visibility into the actual sample, and you are hoping the rest of the batch is also clean.  In food safety, hope is a terrible strategy.

Our process continually samples and gives the food manufacturer visibility into 100% of the product.  We think we can literally improve the quality of food world-wide.  How exciting?!

This Blog

You won’t see much change.  My role with Hollison is not that different from my corporate role with SVN, though I will have more of a role in sales.

What I’m most excited about is all the growth and learning that will come with this new opportunity – and I’ll be sharing it all with you here!

Question: What will be different for you in 2014? New career? New focus? New commitment to excellence? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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!

CRE Tech & App Review – ClientLook and Today’s Big Announcement

In January of this year, I wrote a post on why you should use a Simple and Cloud-Based CRM System.  In that post, I profiled ClientLook.  I’m not going to rehash what I wrote before.  I do want to give you an update and discuss their excited announcement today.

clientlook logo

Update on My Previous Beefs

Speed – I mentioned in my previous post that my main beef with ClientLook was the speed.  That is no longer an issue.  ClientLook has made numerous upgrades in this department and it cooks.  Very fast.  Thank you!

Property Database – ClientLook is now in development of a property database.  Today, I got to see a screenshot of it.  This will make ClientLook a complete solution for me.

Upgrades

Email – One thing that is difficult to track, quantify, and report on is email.  ClientLook makes it very easy to automatically attach emails to specific projects and contacts.  Each project or contact in your database has a specific email addresses generated for it.  All you have to do is include that email address in an email, and that email will be recorded in the correct project and/or contact in ClientLook.

The big win with this is with reporting.  You should be reporting to your clients on a monthly basis.  Most of us track who we spoke with, how many property tours, how many offers, etc.  What gets lost is all the time and work that happens via email.  ClientLook solves this for you.

A best practice for this functionality is creating a contact in your email program with the project email address.  For example, create a contact for your listing 123 Main St.  Now you don’t have to remember the email address.  You just put 123 Main St in the bcc line.  Piece of cake.

Search – I griped a little before about the search capability of ClientLook.  They have taken large strides in this area.  It is now much easier to navigate through 1000′s of contacts quickly.  You can also search and quickly find notes in a contact or project file.

Today’s Announcement (Sept. 26th, 2013)

On a webinar today, Michael Griffin announced that ClientLook has formed a strategic alliance with xceligent.com.  I have known about this for some months, so it is good to be able to talk about it.  I think this is a big with for the Commercial Real Estate industry.

logo_xceligent_hires

xcelligent.com’s answer to Loopnet is the newly launched – and very free – CommercialSearch.com.  Most of the national CRE firms have their listings populated on CommercialSearch.  I am working right now with Michael Griffin to get all of Sperry Van Ness’s listings on there as well.  It may have already reached critical mass.  Your listings should be on there.

Michael’s announcement today centered around 4 things.

  1. Automated Lead Generation – A prospect is on CommercialSearch and is looking at your listing.  When they click to get more information, CommercialSearch captures their information.  It then checks to see if the prospect is already in your ClientLook database.  If not, it creates the new contact, including all contact information, and notifies you of a new lead.  Pretty sweet.  They are also developing a plugin to do the same on your website.
  2. Automatic Activity Reporting – Some of you will run a report on a monthly basis from Loopnet and give it to your listing client showing online activity.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Loopnet automatically put that in your CRM for you – and in the right place?  CommercialSearch does that for ClientLook.  All that data in one place makes me “happy, happy, happy!”
  3. Property Marketing – The information will also flow the other way.  A new listing in ClientLook will automatically be placed on CommercialSearch for you.  Efficiency is a beautiful thing.
  4. Real-Time Embedded Research – This is cool.  If xcelligent.com covers your market and you subscribe, you can run reports.  Say you want a list of all the attorneys in town using over 15,000 sf of office space.  You can import that list automatically into ClientLook.  The exciting part is any time xcelligent.com updates the contact information for one of those attorneys, it will update in your ClientLook account.

I’m excited to see how this shakes out and if CommercialSearch.com can reach critical mass so that these integrations can be of great value.  I am confident that it will.

Question: What do you think about the partnership between ClientLook and xcelligent.com? What new functions and products would you like to see come out of the partnership? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

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.

iStock_000003195421Large

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.