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To Whom It May Concern

Address your clients by name not only in conversation but also in emails and texts to deepen the connection.

September 21, 2018

Do you address your clients by their names? You may think it’s a silly question; it’s natural to use a person’s name in spoken conversation. But think about all the emails and text messages you send. Do you always use your client’s name in electronic communiqués? This more casual mode of communication lends itself to bypassing basic formalities, and that shift can have no small impact on the perception of you as a real estate professional.

I learned this from Dale Carnegie’s Depression-era book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I had initially given it a wide berth, as the title always sounded smarmy to me. I assumed it was about grabbing for dollars and manipulating people. But of course, I was dead wrong. The book bursts with all sorts of insights into human emotion and behavior that are applicable to today’s world.

If you take the book’s principles and apply them toward your career as a real estate professional, then consider this: Think about all the emails and texts you’ve received from clients and colleagues in the past 24 hours. How many of those were requests for your time, advice, or possibly some documentation? How many of them launched right into whatever they were demanding of you? Even if you’ve done business with that person before, receiving a message without any sort of greeting can be a jarring experience. It’s the equivalent of a customer walking into a store and, before even saying “hello” or acknowledging the store clerk’s presence, immediately launching into a shopping list: “Hey, I need a new shirt and three pairs of socks!” The clerk will help you, because that’s the job, but how eager will he or she be to do so? How much fun would either person have in that interaction?

Think, on the other hand, how differently you would feel if you opened an email regarding something you weren’t eager to do, such as updating paperwork to satisfy the underwriter of your client’s mortgage, and the sender paused to say, “Hi there, [name].” That’s the equivalent of saying, “You’re a real person, and I just want to start by acknowledging your existence.” That’s the effect using someone’s name can have.

You don’t have to address someone by name excessively throughout dialogue so as to become obnoxious and phony. You can do it in a genuine way, a respectful sign of acknowledgement that reaches across all cultures and backgrounds. As Carnegie notes, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Typing out a person’s name isn’t a huge burden. If you have time to select the perfect emoji to use before sending a text, you have time to include a person’s name in your message.

You might wonder if what I’m suggesting is overkill. After all, as the world and technology plunge onward, who has time to bother with old-fashioned methods of communication? I would argue that as making such an effort becomes increasingly rare, there’s a premium placed on it. Simply put: You will stand out because few of your competitors are doing it.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of violating these guidelines at times. Often, I’m in a hurry or feel agitated, and I quickly hit “send” to be done with a message and move on to the next pressing task. But I’m motivated every morning, knowing I have another chance to do better by my clients.

Anybody can make connections, but being a real estate professional is about deepening those connections. It’s often something small within a relationship that moves a person from an acquaintance to a friend—or a lifelong client. By addressing your clients by name more often, you can make your interactions with them more valuable and personal.

Nick Curtis

Nick Curtis is a sales associate with RE/MAX Unified Brokers in Macomb, Ill.

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