You’ve secured a real estate license and are ready to make 2016 your breakout year as an agent. Smart move. According to Kiplinger, the market is settling into a steady upward groove after years of turbulence, and the future is bright for resourceful real estate professionals.

When it comes to prospecting activities for new real estate agents, there is standard operating procedure and there are outside-the-box efforts. Successful agents pursue both, which means completing the daily tasks that have worked for decades — calling expired listings, reaching out to “For Sale By Owner” properties — and doing the things that make you stand out in our digital world, such as personal branding and content marketing.

Reach out to your network regularly
Because friends and family are the easiest people to do business with, you must let everyone know you are a real estate agent. This is a good place to start, but it’s not a one-time event.

“I am currently a top producing agent in my marketplace due to my proactive, activity-based approach towards generating listings and sales,” said Dan Mumm, a Zillow-verified top-producing agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Las Vegas.

Mumm closed more than 20 deals in his first year. He suggests calling, texting and sending messages on social media. Track your efforts with a CRM and don’t stop after a single effort.

“Most people are not going to give you a referral the first time you speak to them,” Mumm said. “It is imperative to reach out to your sphere of influence regularly — at least once a quarter — to stay on the top of their mind.”

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Engage in content marketing
If you’re pursuing a career as a real estate agent, it helps to select a niche in the market, whether it’s first-time home buyers or multi-unit properties, and become an expert. Then, think about making some clever how-to videos or putting together regular blog posts to share your knowledge and build your brand.

“I’m less than a year into my real estate career and when I go to bed at 9 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m., there are typically two new leads waiting for me,” said Ryan Fitzgerald owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I did this through content marketing and SEO.”

Become a data nerd for your area
As in most industries, deep knowledge is power in real estate. Both buyers and sellers respect agents who know things they don’t know and can speak intelligently to trends, new laws or long-term economic outlooks for an area.

“Get involved in your local government,” said Shelley Griffin, a Harcourts agent who’s ranked consistently among top producing individual agents in the real estate market in Central Oregon, and ranked No. 10 out of all agents in the Harcourts USA network. “Go to city council meetings or chamber meetings to get a good understanding of how your town works.

Focus on a single area and get to understand it from all angles. Understand the schools and any issues like zoning or new building in that area.

Focus your efforts on securing first appointments
Don’t think about all the closings you’ll soon be attending. Think about appointments, appointments, appointments. This is the sales pipeline input over which you have control — and the activity that is most likely to lead to the closings of your dreams.

Generate Your Own Real Estate Leads

“New agents need to understand their key performance indicators — this means knowing how their efforts and milestones end up producing commission,” said Patrick Sprouse, president of Autus Real Estate and Development in Washington, D.C., and Houston.

Sprouse explained that key performance indicators are the foundational structure of a real estate business plan, and include leads, first appointments, service agreements, contracts executed and sales or leases signed.

Get involved in your community
Successful real estate agents Real Good Agents, have a passion for the community in which they live. It helps enormously to know the area well and take a problem-solving attitude to everything involving the real estate business, from securing a home loan to fixing a crumbling driveway.

Because people prefer to buy from people they like and already know, one of your key sales activities as a new agent is getting to know a lot of people.

“One thing technology will have a hard time replacing is relationships,” said Aaron Norris, a real estate investor in Chicago. “Some of the most successful agents I see in town serve on boards, volunteer their time, don’t miss a single chamber meeting and are just awesomely integrated into the community.”

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