where’s waldo? now you can know!

I’ve been playing with new social networking site, Brightkite.  At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would use it, but now I find it as addicting as Twitter.  It’s really neat.

One of the more interesting things that I heard years ago was that applications would be “location aware” of where you were.  The context of these applications were more centered around phones and IM clients.   Brightkite takes it beyond this level, and I find it pretty enlightening.    Sure, if you use Pidgin or other IM clients, you can have different “resources” identified as “Home” or “Work.”  Brightkite allows you to update wherever you are either by the web or by SMS.   If you can send emails from your phone, you can email pictures of whatever is interesting at the location you “checked in” at.

Today I “checked in” at my barber and I got a message from a friend that said, “Hey, you’re in my ‘hood!”  How cool.  Think about this in larger terms if more people were on board with this.  I could “check in” and if my online or social friends are nearby, they can announce it, and who knows?  Maybe we can meet for coffee.

Imagine how this service could help Realtors or other professionals that travel around a limited area.    Imagine how cool this would be if people could have GPS units that could somehow update locations?   Imagine if you could update via Bluetooth?

This is a different kind of service and it might take some getting used to.   But I like it and I’ll use it.  If you are on Brightkite, please feel free to make me a friend and if you are Twitter, feel free to follow me; if you aren’t a ‘bot or something, chances are I’ll follow you back.

more than six degrees

I was trying to find new folks to follow on Twitter and Facebook tonight.  I have an RSS feed for tweets for people in my zipcode, but it is often hard to know people based on username verses their real or known names.

Our subdivision has a web-based forum and tonight I posted a question asking how many of the residents were on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.  I’ll be curious to see the response… if any.

I’m sometimes surprised of the “online persona” I’ve gotten to know verses the real person.  Since we have kids and our neighborhood has a community park, we meet a lot of other parents.  I am really curious how much of an online presence other people have, and who do they think is important or who do they follow.  It’s an interesting experiment in social networking.

I’ll follow up with notes from my ‘hood forum post.

it’s overwhelming sometimes

I like to check out new things on the Internet especially some of the new services out there, like SocialThing and Ping.fm. I’m on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blah blah blah…

But, sometimes it’s hard to keep all of them up to date, or updated or even to just check in. I have a Pownce account, but only visit when I get a notice sometime has happened, (like a new friend or file). I have a SocialThing account, but I think I’ve only been there once or twice. What else?

With all of these services, I feel like the spinning plate guy, trying to keep up with all of them. Sure, it’s getting better as more ideas become reality. Services like Ping.fm let you update Twitter, Pownce, Facebook, etc all at once.

But then you have to decide if you are going to use IM to update your status or post message, or use a desktop client or the web UI or your cell phone…

I don’t want to be the plate spinner, I want to be like Cardini. If you have not seen the video of Cardini, you’ve missed out. He was so masterful, he took slight of hand to a new level.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these sorts of things. I am enjoying Remember The Milk and Grandcentral. I’ve been using the heck out of my Pbwiki account, and LinkedIn has helped me make new contacts, but the daily routine of checking in everywhere gets old, and some of the newer services don’t seem to have much value for me at this point, so I’m likely not to visit them as much as the others.

So yeah, I want to be like Cardini of the Interwebs. I want to have such mastery of these applications, it looks beyond natural.

see me for who I am; how can I help?

I had a hard time coming up with a title for this post. I wanted to have something clever but not sound cliché, so I decided to start writing can see it something came up.

It’s always funny where inspiration comes from. It can hit you when you least expect it. It can be that little glow of an ember that could ignite into something wonderful, but only if you give it those first few flames of air. I’ve posted in the past about some really great TV shows on the BBC. I don’t watch BBC America often but every once in a while I’ll find something that I get a kick out of. I’m sure you’ve also heard how the BBC comes up with a great show and here in the U.S. they’ll try to copy it and just don’t do it right. There are plenty of examples; Who’s Line is it Anyways?, Coupling, Weakest Link, Who Wants to be Millionaire, The Office, and I am sure there are others.

We just started watching “Last Restaurant Standing.” We had three episodes on Tivo from last season. It’s really an interesting show. Surely you are aware of “Top Chef.” Top Chef on its own accord is pretty cool, but “Last Restaurant Standing” is sort of like ‘multi-dimensional chess” in comparison. The premise is that one of England’s most predominate chef and restaurateur, Raymond Blanc, is looking to partner with a couple to open a restaurant. Nine couples are given a restaurant to run, (none of them have any experience running a restaurant), and are given direction from the chef. The winner of the weekly change is given immunity and the rest of the couples face some sort of elimination challenge. The winning couple is split up and offers help to the remaining competing teams.

The last two episodes were around identifying and strengthing the restaurants’ brand.  Last week, each couple was given simple directions to “develop a brand” and then set up.  It was interesting to see how each couple went about what they each thought what was “their” brand and how to establish it.  Most of them floundered, most of them had a really hard time with this excersice.  And with this, I found myself relating.

The next episode they were given more clarification on what or how to identify their brand;

What excites you? What is your passion? What do you believe in?  That is your brand, and that is what you must do.  You must make other people, your customers understand and identify with your brand!

I’ve heard it before, this is nothing new.  But the difference here was seeing the people in the hot seat and how they reacted to this.  It was like they were too close to it to realize it.  Each contestant had that moment where they said, “Oh! I get it!”

It was at this time, I had a realization.  No, I didn’t realize what my brand was.  I think I have a good handle on that, (don’t get me wrong, it did take some time to get there).  What I realized was that manybe I wasn’t doing enough to promote what my brand was.   Some of the contestants had really clever and innovative ideas on how to promote their brands.  I would have not thought of them, but what I did find myself having, and this was like getting hit with a ton of bricks, was the permission to try really different things.  I’m talking about stepping out of my comfort zone.

One thing is clear, is that you have to have a personal brand. I saw something on a new blog I started reading, Wirelessjobs.com.  It referred to the 95% rule.  Whenever you are at a networking event, see and hear what 95% of the people are doing.    Then, do the opposite.  If you are in the 5% minority, you are sure to get noticed.

more on real estate martketing, 2.0-sytle

I have to thank all the people that viewed and commented on my previous post, “responsible email marketing… for real estate professionals.” I got a lot of views from that post and I got nominate for a weekly web award.  That was the first time and I was pretty honored, so thanks!

But I am still pretty frustrated at how many emails are in my “Spam” folder that are advertising properties.  I’ll never look at them and the fact that is is spam; email that I never asked to receive, is frustrating.  I imagine that 99% of the recipients of those types of emails either never see them, (since they’re in the Spam folder), or you just receive so many of them, that anything that comes into your inbox is so insignificant, you either just delete or mark it as spam.

Now, here’s the rub.  It’s a hungry market out there and there are a lot of hungry agents and brokers.  I, myself am a licensed agent, but that ain’t my bread n’ butter.  I have other things I’ve been doing to make some money so I don’t feel the pinch as bad as some might.  So no doubt, there are agents out there pulling out all the stops trying to generate some business.  It’s not your fault.  You are being preyed upon.  I get tons of emails from people offering to “blast my listings to their 500k+ database.”  I don’t bother opening these emails.

I know there are a lot of agents out there that have been in the game for many, many years.  Some of these seasoned agents out there, still have a voice mail box phone number they give out; you can’t call them directly.   Some of these agents and brokers haven’t really made themselves available on the Internet.  And that’s okay since they’ve been doing business in a traditional way in non-traditional times.  They’ll find customers who also use the traditional ways.  These folks tend to be less Internet-savvy.

But the wave of the future is being able to be contacted.  My generation is people who like to send emails and like to look at webpages and like to be able to find out some information online about the person who is going to help them buy the most expensive purchase they’ll make in their life; their house.

You got to have an online presences these days.  If you don’t the person that does will get your business.

I wanted to post a picture of all the spam in my spam box that is related to properties for sale.  I got a fair amount of Viagra spam, (some of which is actually kind of creative) so I decided to pass on that.  Rather, I’ll share my thoughts on not only your online presences, but also how to be affective with online marketing.

  • Make sure you can be contacted easily:  No matter how you are found, make sure you can get your email address or phone number.  Okay, if you have a voice mail number, you can use that.  But please please please make sure you call back ANYONE who makes the effort to leave you a voice mail.   If you get an email from someone one, at the VERY LEAST, acknowledge you got the mail, even if you can’t answer it right away: Dear So-n-So, thank you for your email.  I wanted to let you know I got it and that I can’t answer you right away, but you are important to me.  As soon as I am able to get back to you I will call/email/fax/whatever…” Touch your customers in a meaningful way.  Tell them they are important and they matter to you.  Your competition isn’t doing it.
  • You heard you need to have a blog: There are those that say you NEED to have a blog  That is easier said than done.  A  blog needs to be tended like a garden.  You don’t have to post every day, but if you decide to have one, you do need to post at least a couple of times a month.  Your topics could include anything from good deals on interest rates to a sad goodbye to an agent who’s leaving.   But don’t commit to a blog if you don’t think you have the gumption to keep up with it, otherwise it will smell like a marketing gimmick.
  • You should have a website: Yes, you SHOULD have a website.  If you work for one of the major brokers, they might help you make one, but if you are an independent broker, you should have a website.  And it should have easy ways to contact you and be SEO-friendly, (Search Engine Optimization-friendly…  If I go to Google and enter “city-I’m-in-interested-in realtor” you want to pop up in the top of the search results).
  • If you have a website, allow follks to sign up for a newsletter: Back to responsible email marketing… you want to make it into your list subscribers inbox instead of their spam box?  Let them sign up on your website and use a reputable email marketeer.  There are several out there.  Do it yourself so you can learn about the technology, marketplace, and learn how to be effective.
  • Finally, do not give any business to the fly-by-night email spammers. Over the long haul, you are most likely to hurt your online reputation more than help it.  DO NOT sign up for offers like “send your listing to 10,000 readers!”  You will end up in 99% percent of those readers’ spam box.  And with search engine technology, you could show up as a spamming agent and potentially loseWeight Exercise business.
  • Use Craigslist: It’s free, somewhat anonymous, and readers go there to look.  Make sure you take advantage of the four picture upload limit.  Again, if you use Craigslist, make sure you can be contact by either email or phone really easy and follow up with your leads.
  • If you have a website, make sure it is updated frequently: If I am thinking about moving to a  particular part of town, I might bookmark your website.  Every time I get the itch to move, I am likely to check your website to see if you have any new listings.   If a listing sold, at least “mark” it as sold.

Having a presence on the Internet might be a little daunting for some agents out there.  The reality is that many of today’s buyers are using the Internet not only as a research tool, but also as a tool to find their next buying agent.  They are using the Internet to find your expertise.   Make it easy for them to find and show them you care about them as a client.  As always, I am happy to consult on these matters so feel free to contact me.

savvy shopper part II when trying to find a job

Back in February, I posted about “being a savvy shopper” when it comes to finding a job. I posted a list of domain names that are sending out boiler plate emails with enticing job offers. I have to admit I got a kick out of that list and I began to keep a running list of domains with the intention of updating the list over time. Then in the beginning of March, I updated the list to 17 entries.

I am happy to report… what, no not happy, perhaps amused that the list has grown even larger. And I began to keep track of the subjects of these emails. What made me think about this was I saw a Tweet from someone yesterday:


I can relate to their frustration. If I didn’t ask for your emails, *I* shouldn’t have to do the extra work to unsub myself from them. You deserve to be “Marked As Spam” in my opinion. Banished to the Spam Folder, never to be seen again. As always, I am worried that if you “click here to remove yourself” of “login to change your email preferences” really does nothing more than to confirm that your email address is valid and someone is reading it.

I could go on and on but would rather out the people trying to scam your email address with bogus job offers.

The domains:


The enticing subjects:

A new Engineer opportunity with Triad Manufacturing
A new IT & Sciences Staff Evaluator opportunity is available
A new Network Administration Lead opportunity is available
A prominent company is currently hiring a Software Architect
A Telephony/Infrastructure Consultant job with IBM is available
Bausch & Lomb is looking to hire a Senior Programmer
Interested in being a Computer Science Staff Liaison?
Interested in a Senior Programmer job with Bausch & Lomb?
There is a Lead Software Developer position you might qualify for!
Wachovia is looking to hire a Technical Implementer
Work as a Manager of Events
Work as an IT & Sciences HR Coordinator

I only wish I collected the Subjects from the get go. If you happen to find this post because you are googling the domains, I hope this helps you and you don’t give away your contact information.