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First Person

Online Presence Expert Italina Kirknis On the Role Social Media, Videos, and Podcasts Play In Fostering Relationships

Online pro Italina Kirknis wants you to (maybe) consider a podcast

Italina Kirknis helps the real estate community upgrade their presence online through LinkedIn, Facebook and Email Newsletters. A frequent speaker at industry events, she is an expert in using social media and online communities to build relationships in real estate.

She sat down with First to talk about the role social media, videos, and podcasts plays in fostering relationships.

Among the highlights:

  • Podcasts and videos can help build relationships. Even though they are not face-to-face, it is a way that viewers can see and hear you.
  • While there is a lot of customer relationship management software out there, your cell phone is a wonderful tool for staying in touch. While you are waiting in line, text a contact to set up a meeting.
  • Agents are great at using email, but they need to explore using Facebook and LinkedIn for keeping in touch with people.

Rather read? Check out the transcript below.

Mike Schneider: Welcome to another episode of First Person. I'm honored to be joined by Italina Kirknis. She is the real estate community's online presence expert and speaker.

Italina Kirknis: Thank you.

Mike Schneider: Which is just amazing. I mean, I want to hear more about that already. Alright. Well, as you mentioned as we were getting started, we're all about relationships here. We're a tech company focused on that. But we really like talking to industry leaders.

Italina Kirknis: Okay.

Mike Schneider: Because, as you probably know, over 70% of transactions come through relationship, and so we want to hear how does that actually work? What does that look like on a day-to-day basis? And I'd love to hear your perspective on that because you've got the whole online community perspective.

Italina Kirknis: Yeah.

Mike Schneider: A lot of relationships are online, offline.

Italina Kirknis: Right, right.

Mike Schneider: So, with a very broad start, how do you see relationships fitting into the real estate space?

Italina Kirknis: So, first off, real estate is a relationship-heavy business, and while I'm not a realtor, we service realtors, helping them with their online presence. So, relationship-wise, I would say most of our clients have either met me or heard me in some capacity, whether it be via video or some connection.

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Italina Kirknis: So I know that that impacts whether someone decides to do business with you.

Mike Schneider: Sure. Yeah, you have to have that connection. What does that look like online versus offline? Like you said, you're on the online side. 

Italina Kirknis: Sure.

Mike Schneider: Yeah, what's changing or what’s new?

Italina Kirknis:  Well, personally, I'm able to do a lot of podcasts. I get asked to do things like this. And while this is not technically face to face, it's still a form of relationship building in that right now viewers can see us and hear us.

Mike Schneider: Sure.

Italina Kirknis: They get a sense of our personality. We've been laughing.

Mike Schneider: Right.

Italina Kirknis: So people online can still see me and feel like a relationship via the videos they see or even hearing my articles them being in my voice.

Mike Schneider: Now they know you were a tennis coach for your first job.

Italina Kirknis: Yeah, right?

Mike Schneider: It's great. Yeah. They get a little bit of history.

Italina Kirknis: Oh yeah. And, you know, I still play tennis and in fact every Tuesday I do a Tennis Tuesday video.

Mike Schneider: Whoa.

Italina Kirknis: And people look at those and they love them, and they feel like they know me as a result. They know me a little bit better.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Italina Kirknis: They know something else about me.

Mike Schneider: That's cool. Well, what's hard about being in a relationship business?

Italina Kirknis: What's hard? Well, because you have some people who, right away, instinctively, they're like, "Yes. I want to work with you."

Mike Schneider: Yep.

Italina Kirknis: And then there are some people who, no matter how great your relationship is, they still want to mull over it. So that can be challenging, spending a lot of time and knowing that it may very well be in the best interest of the other person in their business but they still struggle with making a decision.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. One of the things we look at is when you talk about relationships, those last a long time. You're playing the long game.

Italina Kirknis:  Yeah.

Mike Schneider: Right? And so you end up with hundreds of past clients and thousands of relationships and how do you think about managing that? What are you coaching people, recommend people to do on that front?

Italina Kirknis: So, there's tons of software, as you know, out there to help with that. But honestly, the cellphone is huge. You know, even if you're waiting in line. On my way here, I shot out texts to a bunch of people and just got a little lunch. You know, your phone is huge, and I think if we're doing a good job with staying top of mind and being good to people and the people in your realm are good to you, you're going to remember each other and shoot a message.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. That's great. You're right. Your phone has all of it. And what you hit on there is you're starting conversations even when you're on the go. We're really interested in that conversation, that two-way.

Italina Kirknis: Right?

Mike Schneider: So how is that different, you know, when you're posting it online. A lot of people are in the publishing, right? Publish, publish, publish. How do you get into the conversation? Is that a broader net? I'm curious how you think about the different layers of relationship handling.

Italina Kirknis: Sure. So, like I said, video is huge.

Mike Schneider: Okay.

Italina Kirknis: That's just, it's just so huge.

Mike Schneider: It's more personal.

Italina Kirknis: Because it's definitely more personal, and you are talking to the individual. And I've certainly had people still reach out to me, even though it's online, even with the, just text. People will say, "Hey, great to see you. Shoot me a message. Would love to catch up."

Mike Schneider: Cool.

Italina Kirknis: So I think, in this online digital world that we're in, people have realized, "Okay, while she may not be in front of me, this is her post. I can still communicate with her via this medium."

Mike Schneider: And just seeing that face, your face, and you talking actually makes it more of a conversation.

Italina Kirknis: Absolutely.

Mike Schneider: That's cool. That's really cool. I'm curious if you have any ideas or recommendations for what we call sparks. Like, you haven't talked to someone in four or five years, but they're a past client. You want to reengage that relationship for some reason.

Italina Kirknis: Sure.

Mike Schneider: What do you do?

Italina Kirknis: Okay. So, I mean, start from honesty. "Hey, haven't seen you in a while, would love to catch up." Or, "Hey, I see that you're at this company." Molly's really great at that if I can mention her.

Mike Schneider: Yeah.

Italina Kirknis: She’s been moving around, and she's always really great about touching base.

Mike Schneider: Yeah. Cool. Well, we always end on what is a pro tip? So if Italina's going to give you a pro tip on your relationship side, what would be a pro tip you'd share with agents that you recommend?

Italina Kirknis: Okay. So, I think agents tend to be really good with face to face or even they're really good with shooting out emails. I'm on different agents' lists. I've probably got emails sitting in my inbox right now. But I think there's a reluctance or a tendency to kind of slack off on touching base or using sites like Facebook, using sites like LinkedIn to touch base. So I would say add to all of your different types of relationship building. Add to that, liking someone's post every once in a while, shoot them a direct message every once in a while.

Mike Schneider: Well, thank you for being on First Person.

Italina Kirknis: Absolutely, thanks for having me.