In all of the articles I’ve read about using social media in the real estate business – be it residential or commercial – one network that’s not really discussed a lot is LinkedIn.

It should be.

In fact, it should be a big part of a real estate agent’s or broker’s client acquisition efforts. This is mainly because more of your potential clients are both already on LinkedIn and more ready to do business than when they’re on the more “social” networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A recent study showed that LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate (2.74%) than both Twitter (0.69%) and Facebook (0.77%).

What’s more, LinkedIn’s user demographics are ideal for real estate. Seventy-seven percent are 30 years or older, 41% earn more than $75,000 annually, and about the same number of users are in upper-management positions.

More than 7.2 million real-estate professionals already use LinkedIn, too. That’s good for them, as 74% of the platform’s user base check out a profile before they make a purchase decision for their business. While a similar statistic isn’t available for consumer-based decisions like real estate, it’s pretty safe to say that audience is more than likely using LinkedIn to look at potential agents and brokers – especially when you consider that 90% of its users say they make the buying decisions for their households.

To use LinkedIn well, though, you have to be active on it. With that in mind, let’s dive into using LinkedIn specifically for real estate-related activity, whether you’re in residential or commercial.

Build a Foundation with Your Profile

One of the examples I cite often involves the use of the LinkedIn profile. When using LinkedIn, you should view your profile as the foundation of a house. You shouldn’t start building the house itself until the foundation is strong. For your real-estate practice, this translates to the foundation being your LinkedIn profile, with everything else resting on it.

The main idea here is to re-jigger your profile from (what we say) “a resume to a resource.” Here are a couple of quick ways you can get started:

1.     Background banner. The background banner is the first element that people see when they click into your profile. Yet, this valuable real estate is criminally underused. So, spend some time getting this right. Ideally, you should include your logo and branding. You might want to insert your company’s Website address, your email address and maybe even a phone number.

2.     Profile photograph. Your photo needs to reflect the fact that you are a professional. Make sure your picture reflects how you are seen every day by your clients, colleagues and future customers, and presents you as someone with whom they want to do business. Statistics show that adding a professional photo to your profile will give you 21 times more profile views and nine times more connection requests.

3.     An effective, “what’s in it for me” headline. You want to “attract” people to your profile by phrasing your headline to provide your value proposition, or what you bring to your customers or clients when they become your client. An effective headline contains three items: Who you help, how you help them, and an invitation to click through to your profile. A headline you don’t want may be “Real Estate Agent at XYZ Realty.” Instead, think about something like “Helping home buyers negotiate the real estate process | Tips in my profile.” Design yours to have that same focus.

4.     A values-based summary. Your summary is huge. Think of it as more of a marketing and educational section than what a typical summary looks like on a resume. Consider offering insights and advice in your industry. Give them vendor-agnostic tips – what you mentioned in your headline – they can use right away, without having to contact you. When you bring value to your target audience in your profile, they will get excited to have a conversation when you ask for one.

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Want to really dive in on using LinkedIn for your real-estate practice? Join us LIVE on Thursday, February 28th at 1:00 PM EST for a Webinar on incorporating LinkedIn to not only your client-acquisition strategy but your allied network efforts as well. We’ll take your questions during this session, too. Can’t make that date/time? No worries… sign up anyway, and we’ll send you access to the recorded version. Sign up … today!

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Network and Engage

Once that foundation is solid, it’s time to put up the rest of the structure. Begin by connecting with any old contacts you have, as well as former co-workers, brokers, clients, alumni, organization members, and even friends. Then either ask for introductions to their connections or directly connect with those people, who are known as “2nd-degree connections” in LinkedIn lingo.

It’s also important to engage with those people with whom you’re directly connected, known as “1st-degree connections.” You’ll do that by liking, commenting and sharing the content that they post to LinkedIn. When you comment, though, do so in a way that adds value to the share and doesn’t pitch you or your services. For example, if someone posts an article about real estate trends in your area, you can reply to it with your take on current conditions.

Become “The” Expert in Your Niche/Specialty Area

After building that resourceful profile and starting to network and engage effectively, it’s time for you to become the “expert” in whatever niche or specialty area you’re in. Are you a buyer, tenant, or selling rep? Do you specialize in relocation, seniors, first-time buyers, or land sales?

You can tap into all kinds of valuable, helpful content out there that you can share as the true expert in your niche. Through this sharing, you’re actually attracting leads to you, while at the same time not pushing out overt marketing messages that may repel leads from you.

When people start engaging with your content, you can then add your expertise by adding valuable information or answering questions about what they’ve posted. At that point, you can start communicating with them directly and potentially pick up a “hot” lead or a future client.

You’ll especially want to reach out to those who click through to your strong LinkedIn profile via LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature.

Start/Increase Your Allied Partnerships

How’s your allied partnership network of people like mortgage brokers or commercial lenders, title/real estate attorneys, architects, contractors, and so on? No matter where it’s at right now, it can always be improved. The pros in a vast majority of those areas are on LinkedIn, so use it to build your partner network so that you’re giving to and receiving more referrals from it.

The old real estate mantra of “location, location, location” for property is also right about LinkedIn. You really need to have a strong location on it to start your business or expand your success even further. This goes for both residential and commercial brokerage, too.

Bob Woods is Executive Vice President at Social Sales Link, a LinkedIn and social selling consultancy firm. At one time he worked in residential and commercial real estate. He was also involved with a tech start-up that developed a social platform for commercial real estate pros of all kinds. During that last stint, he taught those in CRE about using social media (and especially) LinkedIn in their sales efforts.