Finding Your Why: How to Create A Successful and Authentic Online Brand Presence | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

By: Aly Nauta, Connective Consulting

Building a personal brand changed my life. Three years ago, after a damaging relationship turned into a divorce, I found myself trading in luxury living for a 300 square foot apartment and a checking account balance too embarrassing to admit. I had a decision to make. Would I let my circumstances define me? Or would I redefine my circumstances? I knew that if I wanted to overcome the odds, I would need to rebuild my mindset, get clear on my purpose and decide what kind of impact I wanted to make. With a background in journalism and years of brand building experience, I decided to take a leap. I left the comfort of a consistent paycheck and started my own creative agency. Through the process of defining my personal brand came the creation of Connective Consulting — a creative agency rooted in personal brand integration and intentional marketing. In fewer than two months, Connective Consulting had over 15 monthly retained clients. Now almost three years later, we’ve impacted over 250 businesses — including Tony Robbins, Wood Properties, Design Hotels, Sotheby’s International Realty, and more — all through referrals. We have built this incredible client base and referral network simply by leading with who we are, rather than what we do. By teaching our clients to do the same, they’ve seen firsthand the powerful difference that comes from authentic, intentional marketing rooted in personal branding.

So, what is a personal brand? And what does it have to do with real estate? Your personal brand is at the very root of intentional marketing, or leading with who you are, rather than what you do.  All of this starts with defining your purpose and your passions. To help get a little more clarity, let’s break that down even further. Your purpose is a combination of what you know, what you do and how you want to serve the world. Your passions are the things that light you up and the things that break your heart.

Ask yourself:
• What is the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning?
• Why do you think that is?
• What do you see in the world — and this can be as specific as the world of real estate — that you’d like to change?

Once you’ve established what your purpose and passions are, combine these all together to create a unique combination that is your personal brand. While it may sound simple enough, getting clear on your passions and purpose can take work. As you can tell from my own introduction, defining your personal brand will often mean digging deep and connecting to your own vulnerabilities. While this may initially feel uncomfortable, the internal clarity and sense of direction that come from having established your brand will translate into success far beyond the business world. That being said, in the business world, and particularly in the world of real estate, one of the most important and difficult tasks is setting yourself apart from the crowd. What makes you different? How can you uniquely serve the needs and interests of your client in a way that other brokers can’t? Once you’ve attached a why to your purpose and passions, answering these questions becomes easy.

So, what is your why? To put it simply, it’s your leverage. When combined with your purpose, it makes you into the offering. I always remind my clients that entrepreneurship is simply having a solution or better method. To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must always stay connected to your why. Ask yourself:

  • Why does my particular method or solution need to exist?
  • What makes it better than others?

When you can establish the difference in your why, it will become clear that there is no one else who can do exactly what you do. Just as important, it will help you become more confident in the unique offerings that only you can provide.

Now that you’ve figured out your purpose, your passions and your why, it’s time to take stock of your online presence.

  • How are you showing up online?
  • Does it align with your personal brand?

If you have yet to build a strong online presence, knowing where to start can feel overwhelming. But here’s the best part — now that you’ve done the hard work of defining your personal brand, this next part will be easy. Show up as you. That’s all you need to do. By sharing your story, your passions and your knowledge, you’re creating a space for others to do the same.

As human beings — whether that’s a potential homebuyer or fellow REALTOR® — we crave connection. We all want to feel seen, heard and understood. By sharing more about yourself and your unique story, you will open up a world of opportunities to connect with people on all of those levels. That same authenticity and warmth should also translate into the imagery you’re sharing. Photographs can be an incredibly powerful sales tool, and what you’re sharing should always be a direct reflection of your personal brand. If your online space is filled with cold, stock-like images of homes, those will be the images and emotions will be attached to your name in people’s minds. Staging homes and photos to have warmth and life in them is not only more visually appealing, but also communicates to your clients that you know what they’re looking for in a home. If you find that the photos you have don’t align with your brand, it’s time for an update. This may mean looking into different ideas and designers for staging or reaching out to different photographers whose style you feel compliments yours. One of the most valuable decisions you can make for your real estate business is dedicating time and resources to extend your personal brand to the photos you’re using.

At Connective Consulting, we’re thrilled to be paving a new path for the real estate industry with our unique brand of intentional marketing. We continue to help both large firms and individual brokers completely transform the way they’re communicating and connecting with prospective and existing clients. By helping our clients discover their purpose and passions, and then rooting our marketing strategy in that personal brand, we’re seeing a change in the way people buy and sell homes. Not only do we provide a unique set of tools and knowledge to maximize social strategy, but our emphasis on leading with who you are rather than what you do, has cultivated a space for authentic connection in the world of real estate.