Agent Decoded - Jay Thompson
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News

Agents Decoded: How to get clients to contact you 

When Jay Thompson needed to find a great local agent, he went looking for someone with a solid online presence and good reviews — who also responded to calls.

March 29, 2023
5 minutes

The direction of your business depends on decisions you make every day. Agents Decoded can help you by presenting the perspectives of seasoned pros who have been there, made mistakes, and found success.

During the height of the pandemic, my wife and I packed up our car, loaded the bird and the cat in the back seat, and drove 2,300 miles from Seattle to the Texas coast.

Yes, a bird and a cat. They don't really like each other. It was a long drive.

The purpose of our trip was to find a new (to us) home to live in. We knew roughly where we wanted to live, but nothing about buying a waterfront home, or what impact the pandemic would have on our purchase. Despite almost 20 years in the real estate industry, what I really needed was a great local agent. 

But I was moving to Small Town, USA, where I didn't know any agents, and even my agent friends living in large cities nearby didn't have any referrals. Now what? 

Here's how to be found — and contacted — by a buyer like me.

Focus your profile on what you can do for clients

Without a personal referral, I turned to the internet. There are countless agent directories — Zillow,, real estate franchise sites — and lots of "Top 10 agents in Anytown, USA" lists.

Most of the profiles in these directories spotlight an "About Me" section telling you why that agent is the best. But I don't really care what the agent has to say about themself. I want to know what they can do for me

This is why I encourage agents to change that "About Me" to "About YOU" when completing a social or directory profile. Most don't — but you know what some profiles have that are incredibly useful when finding an agent? 


Those little blurbs that so many agents sweat and fret over are gold nuggets because they provide insight into how an agent works.

So when I was looking for an agent, I read every review I could get my hands on, and five agents quickly rose to the top.

Besides reviews, another feature I found extremely helpful were the maps on some profiles and websites showing pinned locations of where agents had listed homes and/or represented the buyer side. Since I was very interested in a waterfront home, those maps helped me narrow down my list of review-worthy candidates to three who had actually sold waterfront homes in my neighborhoods of interest.

You can't get a lead if you don't respond

There is an often-shared, always frightening, statistic out there that says something like 85% of consumers chose the first agent they talk to — because most people only talk to one agent. That always seemed crazy to me, and I was determined to talk to at least three agents before deciding which one I wanted to represent me.

Problem is, I couldn't get three agents to contact me. After pouring over reviews, diving into social media profiles, and getting a feel via online platforms, I found three strong candidates.

I reached out to each one via direct email. I included a short message about who I was, what I was looking for, and what I was pre-qualified to purchase. Leaving my cell number, I asked for a reply, text or call about setting up a meeting.

I clicked send, and I waited.

And waited. 

The next afternoon, one agent replied and asked me to call her. She answered on the first ring, was very personable, and we set up a meeting for the next day.

I never heard a peep from the other two agents, even after I texted and called.

These two agents had a pretty decent internet presence, but they failed in the basic, and most important, lead conversion step of "answer your phone and emails." 

Amy passed her in-person interview with flying colors and did an amazing job for us. I've since referred two friends to her who bought homes. That's three transactions Amy closed because she did two fundamental things for finding new business:

1) She got reviews on her profiles

2) She replied to my inquiry

Keep your online presence professional

And Amy did a third thing right: She didn't come across as an idiot on social media.

I'll freely admit I "stalked" Amy, and others, on the internet before I reached out to them. I'm not trying to find personal information, but I am looking for business acumen and common sense. I don't want to work with some political wingnut on the fringe right or left, or someone who whines and complains. I just want to work with a normal person I can get along with. 

You can tell a LOT about a person by how they behave on the internet. If you don't think people are screening and judging you based on your online behavior, think again.

Be visible, solicit reviews, be responsive

You don't need a vast online presence with thousands of followers to win new business. But you do need to be visible, you need good reviews that help showcase your talents and areas of expertise, and you've got to answer your calls, texts, emails and messages.

Rather than fear online portals, leverage their brand and reach by building a solid profile with messaging about how you can help. That includes getting reviews on multiple consumer platforms. The internet can market for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We found an amazing agent and it all started with looking at her online reviews. I'm not the only person finding my agent this way. Your online presence matters, and you should be mining it for those golden nuggets of new client goodness.

Jay Thompson is a former real estate agent, broker-owner and industry outreach director. He is currently an industry consultant and sits on several boards. The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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