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A couple of weeks ago I was reminded of the value of personal connections. I love the social world, the ability to connect and build relationships online has been a powerful resource for my business. As a writer it is so easy for me to hide away behind my pen and paper and remain in the safety and comfort of the office. Trusting relationships can be established through many different ways, including online, but I think like many of us, I had lost sight of actually connecting in person.
When organising my trip to New York with other entrepreneurs for an event with our business mentor a small group of us decided to share an airbnb. Honestly, my first reaction when this was suggested was to say no. I love my privacy and personal space, but I knew if I want to get the most of this experience I needed to throw myself into it with heart and soul. Facing my fear, I agreed to share and arrived at the Manhattan apartment to meet 5 strangers from different continents.
Facing our fears is something we have to do a lot in business, it’s what challenges us, makes us stronger and also helps us succeed. Those 5 strangers, over our brief time together, have now become great friends and advisers. We connected not only on a personal level but we shared a passion for business that infused our creativity for our own businesses. Our mentor Todd Herman, likes to describe us as ‘weird’, and it’s a word we embrace. That weekend we were with like minded people who understood our workaholic nature, our desire to be challenged, and our thirst for knowledge.
But returning home it got me thinking, what if I hadn’t faced my fear? What if I have crept into my safe bubble and got myself a hotel room on my own, would my experience have been the same?
The simple answer is no!
Meeting people in person puts a whole new dimension on a relationship, it makes it stronger and more meaningful.
Get out there
Just as I did, go and face your fear. Get up from you comfort zone and experience something new and exciting. You don’t have to take a trip to another country, just push yourself to do something different. Why not have a tweet-up for your social media following and take your online relationships to the next level.
I often find doing a training programme, whether online or off-line is also a great place to build a relationship with people. You can learn together, get frustrated together and succeed together. Don’t fall into the trap doing the same training as your colleagues as it will be easy to just communicate with those that you know. Remember everyone is a stranger to each other at the beginning, you may start that way, but you won’t be strangers by the time you finish.
There are thousands of networking opportunities across the globe. I know how frightening it can be to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone. You worry about babbling or you hide in the corner. See every networking group as an opportunity, the people you meet may not be a direct client, but you never know who they have in the circle of connections.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson, my social connections are amazing but if I take those connections to the next level who knows where it can lead!
As we rapidly head towards our second anniversary, I grabbed Andrea for a quick chat to find out more about writing for estate agents. Where did her passion come from, how did Citrus Content start and what challenges and key trends do we face.
How did Citrus start?
I have always had a passion for property and interiors, but writing? My career took me down a different path until 4 years ago when I joined twitter. Here I shared my love for property and started to attract a following, this led to my first blog post. I was asked to write a guest post on my passion, incredibly it was for Rightmove. Over the next couple of years I was asked to write more and more, and realised two things; firstly, I loved it and more importantly, the industry wanted more. So two years ago, I grabbed my pen and paper and started to write as a profession.
Let’s face it, estate agents historically don’t have the best reputation and are renowned for being stuck in their traditional roots. I admit some agents are grasping onto their past with both hands but many are embracing the future and breaking the mould to emerge as a new breed of estate agents.
What are the challenges?
Estate agents are not marketers, designers or creative professionals but the business community and our technological society is asking them to be. They often find it hard to translate their knowledge and personality into content that emotes the reader. But being able to be the solution to this challenge is so rewarding.
Are there any key trends?
Like similar industries, traditionally estate agency content has been cold and corporate. This has changed, whether it’s down to social media or customer needs, the industry leaders seek warm and engaging content that speaks directly to their clients. We work hard to establish a tone of voice for each agency to highlight their individuality. I have created, what we fondly call, our Voice Document. This document is the foundation of everything we write and also means we can write numerous articles on the same subject and you can clearly identify which agent it was written for. Storytelling for estate agents is now very client centric, we focus on using words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than ‘we’ and ‘our’.
Estate agents are also fusing this new trend with traditional values. They want to be seen as not just based within the community but also part of it. There is a growing demand for editorial content which features local businesses and events. Blog posts, newsletters, and magazines featuring a community touch are a trend that again is growing. No matter whether we feature a local store, artisan, or product, we have to find a way of relating it to the agent or buying, selling, renting or letting a property.
We are required to be all things not just writers. Working with estate agents is fantastically creative; we are often required to be marketers, coming up with inventive ways to promote their business. Some clients require even more, we have written press releases, organized events and so much more.
How have things changed?
Every day I see a change in the industry and a growing acceptance that engaging content is a necessity not a luxury item. There is still a long way to go, as this acceptance is still very much a minority. This is not to criticize those that have not adapted the new trends, as a culture change in an industry never happens over night.
Looking to the future
There is definitely a change in customer perception, and an estate agent is no longer the most hated profession. I often say ‘There is nothing more powerful than words.’ Words are breaking down stereotypes, strengthening the client and agent relationship, aiding an agency to financial success and most importantly, changing how the industry operates.
I’m proud to be part of this incredible change and look forward to breaking many more moulds in the future. Writing for estate agents is anything but dull, it is often said when buying a house you think with your heart and your head. Passion, industry knowledge, and adaptability are key to our success at Citrus Content.
Letting you in, opening up, talking to myself…all facts and fears about writing my first blog! To imagine someone who is the class clown but would never read aloud, who loves to sing but can’t find her voice is completely me. My new found confidence has been thrust upon me by my “pushy mother” style boss lady Andrea Morgan suggesting I write a blog so here goes…
So far 2014 has been a year for all things “new”. New baby, new house, new job. All positives you would think but they have also come with new fears, new pressure and new worries. My aim of the year is to turn the few negatives, which will never get their air time in my blog, in to more and more positives! My beautiful new baby, a constant positive who makes me smile and be silly every day. My new house, a home for my family, transformed by my fiancé and never to be completed. My new job, an unexpected encounter with endless opportunities.
Citrus Content so far has been refreshing, inspiring and exciting! In the space of a month I have gone from working with dreary CXO’s to the interior design and content writing industry. The splash of colour has been a huge welcome to my new life and every day I am learning and smiling; both as refreshing as Citrus Content aims to be!
Working at home and in our new office gives me a balanced work life although some of my work doesn’t feel like “work”! Each client has their own needs and my work allows me to help them in various ways of never ending content and sharing all with an aim to grow their business and ours. “Our business” Andrea has encouraged me to use “our” and “we” which has made me feel so at home in a company which was her baby. This has all added to my continued passion for the job and eagerness to grow together and with whoever else wants to join us on this ride to the top!
At Citrus work never stops, finding great websites and products, sharing our work and stories on social media and working with interesting clients! I have 3 aims for my future here:
Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Never stop smiling.