January 30, 2011

11 Ways to Sharpen Your Saw in 2011

What is your plan for growth in 2011 and beyond?

What will you proactively do to improve your skills?

How will you boost your confidence levels to continually push yourself outside the comfort zone where the "status quo" lives?

Here are 11 things you can do to improve your skills, systems or services this year. Read through the list and pick one to start this week and then add one each month of 2011.

Daily Affirmations - Positive, self statements that you say (or think) to yourself daily. They should always be stated in the present tense. Adding a feeling or sensation will help you "feel" them coming true. E.g. "I deliver truly remarkable service to every customer and client I encounter" or "I weigh 170 and I feel great."

Download and Listen to PodCasts - Think of how much time you have sitting in a car, exercising or waiting at appointments. Utilize that time by listening to podcasts that you can find on iTunes or even check out the Books on Tape section of your local library. You don't have to listen to real estate or sales related content all the time. You could mix in motivational or spiritual messages, leadership lesson or interviews with other successful people.

Webinars - Like a podcast, these on-line classes allow you to listen to some brilliant people deliver presentations on topics that can help you with a specific actions (skill-based), help you learn about a new way of doing business or introduce you to new people in your industry. You can "attend" these session "live" or on demand and depending on the content and instructor, you'll find a mix of no-cost sessions (Freemium) and cost-based events (a.k.a. Premium content). Does your broker, company or board offer any recurring session or have a library of "on demand" topics you could listen to?

Mastermind Groups - Gather with other agents in your peer group to "idea-share" or even invite people at the level of business you might aspire to achieve to join you for some mentoring opportunity. No one wants to attend these sessions without sharing valuable content so it really challenges everyone to bring their best efforts. You can create a Mastermind Group in your office or in your company or even go outside the industry and gather other like-minded entrepreneurs who are seeking to reach new levels of success in 2011.

One-on-One Coaching - Does your manager or someone in your company offer one-on-one coaching? The accountability you get when you are challenged by a coach is a great factor in your success. Top athletes all have them because the extra set of eyes and ears can really see more ways to help you achieve your goals. Coaches will provide you with guidance and support and serve as a sounding board for many of your ideas, allowing you to isolate the worthwhile ones and convert them into action.

Dialogue Practice - Show me a sales agent who is confident in what to say, no matter the situation, and I'll show you a successful agent. Dialogues should be delivered naturally so don't focus on "memorizing" what to say; instead, "internalize" what needs to be said and before you know it, the right words will be rolling off your tongue with the exact right intonation and emphasis.

Office Training - Take advantage of any training opportunity you can, especially when it happens right down the hallway. have you ever attended a session and there was only a few agents who showed up? That's a bonus for you because you're learning something new and just may have a leg up on the competition. Always open your mind to new learning, share what you can with the fellow students and figure out a way to begin applying what you learned within 24 hours. If you're part of an office that doesn't offer and training, you owe it to yourself and future clients to seek out a branch or company that does. This career is too hard and too demanding to "learn as you go."

Company Training - Are you part of a company that brings in events outside of the branch level? If you are, you're lucky and need to take advantage of them. Arrive early and sit towards the front row. Take plenty of notes and be open to new ways of thinking. You don't need to buy the speakers materials if you don't see any value but any good speaker/trainer should be offering plenty of great ideas for the cost of admission (which is usually FREE).

Seminars - I think it's a great idea to get out of town every now and then (or at least across town) to attend seminars or designation-related types of training. It's even wise to think about attending events that aren't real estate related. You can always learn something new and you just might develop an interest in something that could help you build more relationships, solve more problems or have more fun down the road. Grab a peer from the office, contact one of your friendly co-op agents from Slippery Slope Realty or contact one of your clients and ask them to join you. It might be the best day or two you've had in a while and it will get you fired up to return to work "full steam ahead."

Read More Books and Blogs - I used to joke that for a long time I was a great book starter but a horrible book finisher. I loved to start a book but my attention span often waned and the newest title or author had me off starting a new book. My shelves were littered with half-started books.

Then a few years ago I started focusing on my discipline and said I would quit starting books until I finished the one I was on. Now I have a system that helps me avoid jumping to the newest, shiniest, trendiest new book until it's time.

I have four piles of books; Sales, Leadership, Biographies and personal interests. If someone suggests I read a book and the topic, title or author interests me, I will add that book to the bottom of the specific pile it belongs to. I will not start it until I have completed the books above it. This allows me to always be focused on something new but helps me learn about things and people that interest me and also keeps me focused.

As for the blogs, don't try to read too many but there is certainly some fabulous material out there on the web to digest. You might consider subscribing to an RSS feed and saving the posts to a reader or setting up the blog posts you read via email to be filtered into a specific mailbox for reading at night or over the weekends.

Customer Surveys - Another great way to "up your game" in 2011 is to find out what the people you serve like or dislike about your services. Don't take the negative feedback personally. Take it as constructive criticism and determine if you can eliminate the issues or actions that people don't like. It's also important not to listen to much to the positive statements and start resting on your laurels. Many people would rather pass along mushy positive feedback just because they don't want to hurt feelings. Never settle for good when great is still possible. You can use services such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang or the old fashioned was of gathering feedback - asking for it in person.

What about you? What will you be looking at to help you become better in 2011? Leave me a comment below and tell me which of these 11 ideas you plan to focus on this year or add something I left off the list?