Make a Better Connection with Network Savvy

September 1, 2000

Whether you sell real estate out of a home office or run a small brokerage with several employees, linking your computers on a network should be one of the next technology investments you consider.

A network centralizes computer resources so those in the office can share a printer and other peripherals, move files back and forth without anyone leaving their desk, review the same listing information at different computers, or work in the same application at the same time. It’s basic stuff, but still a new concept if you’ve arrived at your technology solution one computer at a time.

And in today's competitive real estate market, where the window of opportunity can be short lived, setting up a network can boost productivity by making it possible for salespeople and administrative support to use software and peripherals when and as needed, even simultaneously.

With more computers in use in homes and offices, there has been a real push among computer vendors to get computer users thinking in terms of creating networks, even at home, where you might only have a couple of computers and peripherals. Options range from home network kits to adapters which use home wiring to create the network to wireless solutions.

If you don’t want to worry about installing cards and cables, or if your office demands anything relatively ambitious, you must hire or train someone as network administrator, or turn the job over to an outside company. Creating a sophisticated computer network requires careful needs assessment and thorough planning. And once the network is in place, there’s an ongoing call for troubleshooting and system maintenance to enjoy the full benefits of investment.

Whether you want to do it yourself, hire an expert, or turn the job over to an outside company, know what you’re talking about first. The world of computer networks is rife with technology all its own: LAN and WAN, groupware, hub, and server. Educating yourself, even on the most fundamental level, will put you in a better position to grasp your options and achieve the network that adequately serves your real estate practice’s present and future needs.

Fortunately, there’s a good selection of information available online to give you an understanding of what networks are and how they operate. It’s little surprise that most of this information is posted by consulting companies eager to help yours build its network. Commercial aspirations aside, the information at many of these sites is generic enough to make you a smarter shopper, wherever you turn for your network solution.

A good starting point is the tutorial on local area networks offered by telecommunications specialists and consultants FICOM. Over several screen pages, it offers a thorough introduction to networks, the technology and terminology. If you’re more technically inclined, try Dan's Data site. Along with an explanation on what a network is and how it operates, it offers detailed instructions that guide you through the process of setting up a local area network.

Another site posted by a British Internet user offers a quick introduction to the both local and wide area networks (LANs and WANs) with diagrams to help explain how they work. For up-to-the-minute information and product reviews, try zdnet.com or cnet.com.

A few minutes spent at these sites should give you a good overview of networks, and why one should figure in your technology solution, wherever you rely on computers to help market property.

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