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Broker and Digital Marketing Strategist Andrea Geller Talks About Who to Stay Connected With

It’s okay to drop someone from your contact list.

That’s what Andrea Geller, a digital marketing strategies blogger you’ve seen on the stage at the Zillow Summit, Inman News Agent Reboot, and Connect on the Road says. An active broker with Hot Property, the Chaz Walters Group, she’s big on staying connected, but in ways that make sense.

She sat down with First to talk about relationships, networks and the online world. Here are the highlights:

  • Keep the people you click with in your network. It’s okay to remove those that were difficult – they aren’t a likely source of referrals.  
  • If your goal is to grow your price point, vs. volume, a small network that you stay in touch with regularly works better than a big network.  
  • Make sure you connect your offline relationships to your online world. LinkedIn is a good choice as it allows you to focus on the professional vs. the personal.

Rather read? Check out the transcript here

Mike Schneider: Thank you for joining us for another episode of our First Person Series. And today, I get to have Andrea Geller here from the Chaz Walter's Group at Coldwell Banker, Chicago.

Andrea is very influential in the industry and has tons of experience so we're really excited to talk about this intersection that we focus on which is relationships in business and how that drives this industry. So, thanks for being on.

Andrea Geller: Thank you for having me.

Mike Schneider: How did you got into real estate. Was this something you were planning on? How'd you get started?     

Andrea Geller: It was kind of an accident. I had been living in South Florida for six years. I'm a Chicago native. I came back for a variety of reasons and what I was doing in South Florida was selling. I was a sales rep for furniture and accessories. And I had the jewel of sales person's territories which was from Ft. Myers on the west coast and Vero Beach on the east coach going down to the Keys.

Andrea Geller: On the East Coast nothing was more than two or three hours at the most from my house, except for trade shows. I guess, maybe, that's where I got the conference in me.9 But, I ended up coming back and thinking I could do the same thing, got a job in Chicago. And you know what? It's not as much fun, you know, the territory's bigger, in the middle of the winter. And there's snow and there's ice and you're having to take samples in and out of your car and you're having to get to these trade shows and, like, trying to get in and out of Chicago in the winter.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Andrea Geller: So, my sister, who was a real estate attorney and taught the class at the time for pre-licensing, said, "I'll give you a scholarship," which, I don't know, a couple hundred bucks or whatever, and "come and get your license and see if you like it." She's like, "The worst thing that'll happen is you’ll have a license."

Mike Schneider: Yeah. Great. And how long have you been in the industry now?

Andrea Geller: Next year, 2019, will be my 20th year.

Mike Schneider: Wow. That's great. Well, I'm excited to hear more of your wisdom on that. So, as I mentioned at the beginning, we're all about relationships. I'd love to hear how you think about relationships in your business. How does that drive your business?

Andrea Geller: I think it totally drives my business now. When I started in this industry I kind of fell into developments rather quickly.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

AG: And it was in a boom. It was, '99 to 2004 and in 2005, I saw people weren't lining up at the door anymore.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Andrea Geller: So, I always had some resale business but in development, the relationship is with your developer, with the seller client.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Andrea Geller: But it's retail at the buyer end. It's like working retail which I did many years ago. So, that's how I look at it. Resale business is all about relationships.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Andrea Geller: So, I started it slowly and I went into management for a while and then I needed to kick start my business because I decided, at heart, I like to train and I like to sell but I don't like to manage.

Mike Schneider: Okay.

Andrea Geller: So, I got out of it and when I decided was the worst time, like, 2009 when there was no market. All of a sudden there was this company named Zillow and they were selling these zip codes.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Andrea Geller: And I was actually one of the first ones in the area who started to get some business.

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Andrea Geller: So what I realized as I started building my clientele back up, going back to people I knew, things like that, and starting to come up in social was the referral business from other agents. That's really what changed my attitude about going after the people I don't know to the people I know because agents still are a great referral source.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Andrea Geller: Even local, I started just from connections on Twitter. I mean, it was amazing in 2008, 2009, 2010 where that became a big referral business and social started to pop up. And then I realized, in order to move this on I needed to take those relationships offline to online. And it was about 10 years ago that I started to get involved. I mean, it was Chris Smith who brought me into one of the first agent reboots they did.

Mike Schneider: Okay.

Andrea Geller: And, from then on, I became involved with the Inman Organization. In 2011, I became very involved at Coldwell Banker on their social squad which is similar to being an Inman Ambassador. I became so engaged in those communities of my brokerage and the real estate community at large with Inman and a good portion of my business is based on the referrals from these relationships I make through other agents and vendors. And then, I started to realize that my best business is going to be from the people I know and the people I don't know, and that's how I really manage how I grow my business.

Mike Schneider: Cool. And one of those transitions you just mentioned -- you said, "I started reaching out." And I'm really curious to hear, what are the sparks that you have? If you have someone that maybe you sold a house to three or four years ago, and maybe you haven't kept in touch with them, how do you restart that conversation?

Andrea Geller: Typically it's something that I remember that we connected on. Probably, maybe not even anything to have to do with their home but something in their life.

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Andrea Geller: I might see something pop up on my Facebook or Twitter stream or on Instagram or, even in the media, some sort of media. Or something occurred to me, like I see something going up in the neighborhood.

Mike Schneider: Got it.

Andrea Geller: And it's like, you know what, I just saw that. That's, like, a great thing.

Mike Schneider: And they think, then, "Oh, yeah, I know this person in that neighborhood."

Andrea Geller: And then I reach out. So I'm not necessarily keeping in front of them to get the next transaction from them because the reality is people aren't moving as quickly.

Mike Schneider: Yeah, sure.

Andrea Geller: It used to be three to five years. It's five plus now.

Mike Schneider: Yep. So you have your radar up for what's going on and how could I maybe reach out?

Andrea Geller: Right. And because it's not necessarily that I'm going to get the transaction from them, it's going to be the person they refer.

Mike Schneider: Yep. So, if we do role play, if I'm someone you sold a house to three or four years ago, and there's nothing on social or whatever and we haven't stayed in touch, how would you re-engage with me?

Andrea Geller: And this is where I count the people who I want to work with versus the people I don't want to work with. Because typically if we had a good relationship there was something -- we bonded over something. I typically find that those people will refer people very like them.

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Andrea Geller: The people who it just didn't gel with -- and sometimes transactions are bad and you still have a good relationship with the client. Just, you can't control the other side.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Andrea Geller: Things happen.

Mike Schneider: Yeah, it can be messy.

Andrea Geller: But it's like, you know what? We did not get along -- it's not somebody I want in my world. So, I use someone I want in my world, whether, the next transaction or connecting on some level and then I'll typically find something that we can connect with.

Mike Schneider: Got it.

Andrea Geller: And even if I have to go back and scrounge, see what's going on in the neighborhood if I can't find anything.

Mike Schneider: So you'll come with a tidbit.

Andrea Geller: Right. And sometimes if you just go in and look on LinkedIn, even if you're not connected there, if you are still a working professional you're going to have something. Like, you know, "Oh, I saw you're now with so-and-so," or something.

Mike Schneider: Right.

Andrea Geller: Or "You got a promotion, that's great." You know, "How are things going?"

Mike Schneider: Cool.

Andrea Geller: So sometimes, because there's so many new companies that are coming up in different industries in these pocket parts and saying, "I saw something about that and I was really interested in your take." And I say, "You're doing this now" or "that now." And sometimes it's just reaching out to them on a professional level because everybody does not want everybody in their lives on this very tight personal level.

Mike Schneider: That's right. Yeah.

Andrea Geller: So, you have to find that distance between, where it's still comfortable approach someone that you haven't communicated with.

Mike Schneider: That's a really good point. Because if you don't have the relationship, you don't want to just go straight into it. You have to have some kind of buffer.

Andrea Geller: Code.

Mike Schneider: That's a great tip. LinkedIn -- here are some job changes or something that's low, you know, easy for you to reach out to.

Andrea Geller: And you don't necessarily have to be connected with them, because it's all public.

Mike Schneider: Sure. It's all public. So that leads me to my last question. Any pro tips on how to manage your people, in your follow-up?

Andrea Geller: How do I manage? I'm very basic in terms of how I do it. I keep it in a client list because over the years, it's gotten smaller than bigger because I weed out, add in.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. Well, there's a pro tip right there.

Andrea Geller: Yeah.

Mike Schneider: Weed out, add in, keep it smaller.

Andrea Geller: Keep it smaller.

Mike Schneider: Cool.

Andrea Geller: I can only manage so many, and you have to decide how you want your business. If you are doing business based on the people you don't know, you can have a buyer's agent, a listing agent, because there's not really that relationship there.

Mike Schneider: Uh-huh.

Andrea Geller: But for me, I find that I do higher price point transactions if it's the people I know. And so, I don't necessarily need to grow my number of transactions, I grow my price point.

Mike Schneider: Great. Well, thank you Andrea. This has been really helpful. Thanks for being on.

Andrea Geller:  Well, thank you for having me.

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