So, how do you unwind at the end of a hectic day in real estate? Join friends for cocktails at your favorite happy hour lounge? Nine holes before the sun dips beneath the horizon? I’m willing to bet we won’t find you where native New Yorker Renee Fishman hangs out: flying through the air on a trapeze.
“I’ve been doing the trapeze for nine years. It’s really fun and it allows me to let loose, to let go, to stretch beyond my comfort zone,” Fishman says. “I can’t be checking my phone when I’m on the trapeze. It’s very hard to disconnect in this business, so I like to do things that require focus and concentration and pull me away from my day-to-day,” she continues. “On the trapeze I can let my mind clear.”
When this former attorney isn’t flying through the air with the greatest of ease, she works in real estate. But, don’t call her a salesperson. She’s an advisor, a consultant and a teacher.
“I don’t consider real estate to be a sales job. I have a very client-focused approach to my business,” Fishman explains. “I’m an advisor and I’m working with people who are going through some sort of life transition – they’re having babies, they’re getting married, they’re getting divorced, they’re moving in together, maybe it’s an estate because somebody died. Buying or selling is always an emotional event, but you’re dealing with people, so there’s always a precipitating emotional event, and that’s my focus,” she explains.
“When I practiced law, I did fun areas of the law. Not real estate law but licensing and technology; I did false advertising law, anti-trust and some of it was more fulfilling than others,” Fishman continues. After seven years as an attorney, Fishman reached a point where the law wasn’t fulfilling. She wanted to help people more directly – the face-to-face kind of help. Real estate does that for her.
In an industry where the median tenure of agents is 10 years, some may say that Fishman’s five years consigns her to rookie status. Those people would be wrong. Rookie status came and went a long time ago for this agent, whose career has moved at warp speed since its inception.
“I won the Rookie of the Year award from the Real Estate Board of New York back in 2009,” she recalls. The board credited a lot of her success to her social media strategy and invited her to speak to other agents about what she does and why. She now teaches her strategy to agents in her office, at the real estate board and has a consulting practice where she works with agents one-on-one.
When a woman has 2,100 Twitter followers she has to be doing something right. “I tweet a lot, but I very rarely tweet about my listings. I post a lot on Facebook and very rarely post about real estate,” she explains. “I’m working with people in one of the most intimate parts of their lives so my social media presence is not pushy or salesy. It’s about connecting with people and forming relationships. I don’t feel you can do that effectively through some system of automating tweets and just pushing out content. I think your content has to be real, it has to reflect who you are,” she explains.
Aside from the basics of communicating without being pushy or intrusive, Fishman offers agents another bit of social media advice. She calls it her CLEAR system and claims that “It’s the secret to connecting on social media.” CLEAR stands for connect, listen, engage, add value and respond.
“The ‘add value’ part of the system does not mean promote your listings,” she explains. “Giving someone that is actively looking to buy or sell a market report is adding value. Giving someone a market report that is not currently looking? That’s promotion. That’s not adding value,” Fishman continues.
“A lot of agents think if something is about real estate they’re adding value. Adding value is sending a coupon for a discount at a local store where you know they shop. Try to innovate and find things that will really add value to their lives. Act on the little things you learn while listening to people.”
When she’s not selling real estate (don’t tell her I used the “s” word, please), flying high on a trapeze or teaching, Fishman spends time on her two passions: City Harvest and the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
But the thing that gets Renee Fishman out of bed in the morning is her real estate practice. More specifically, it’s the people who come to her for help.
“I have clients who were dating when they got their apartment,” she recalls. “Then they got engaged, they got married and then they had kids. I’m a part of that – I helped them find the place where they wanted to make that happen.
Then, when that place got too small, I helped them find a new place for the next stage of life. That type of fulfillment is something that really stays with me and it’s the reason I do what I do. I can really help people – I can make an impact.”