Last week on Active Rain agents got into a spirited discussion about photos on business cards. Some say yes and others say absolutely not.
Some who are against it say it doesn’t look professional. After all, doctors and lawyers don’t have their photos on their cards.
Are you a doctor or a lawyer?
I don’t understand why some agents persist in comparing a career in real estate to a career in medicine or law. Do you know ANY agent who had to go to college for 8 years to become licensed? I sure don’t.
Education aside, doctors and lawyers don’t gain clients in the same manner as you do. Granted, some of them do place ads in newspapers and phone books – generally in a manner that states their area of specialization. (I recall when that was not allowed – it was considered entirely unprofessional.)
But I’ve never heard of either a doctor or a lawyer sending prospecting letters; nor have I heard of them making cold calls, knocking on doors, or leaving their cards with a tip in a restaurant.
As for networking … perhaps a real estate attorney would hand out cards at a meeting of REALTORS® but can you imagine a criminal attorney handing you a card and saying “Next time you’re arrested, give me a call.” How about a doctor giving you a list of symptoms and telling you that if you have them, you probably have “his” disease, so get in touch?
For the most part, doctors and lawyers get their clients through referrals and people who are seeking them out for their specific expertise.
Real estate agents market themselves in a different manner.
As a Real estate agent, you don’t wait for referrals and you don’t sit back and wait for someone to search for you. (Although you do appreciate it when business comes from those sources.)
You’re looking for business everywhere you go. Every new person is a possible client, whether you meet them at a ball game, a Chamber of Commerce meeting, or a baby shower. You are hopefully handing your card to every one of those people. You might even hand your card to someone you meet standing in line at the grocery store or while sitting in a waiting room.
In other words, in addition to your website, your blog, and your direct mail, you prospect, network, and gain clients in a face to face manner.
And that’s why your photo belongs on your business card.
When you meet someone new and hand them your card, it’s your face, your smile, your voice, and a feeling that they will associate with your face that they remember – not your name.
Once they go home or back to their desk, they’ll probably toss that card in a drawer with a dozen others – and then what? Maybe they’ll have written a note on the back to remind themselves that they were impressed by you. But how many people are likely to do that?
Of course, the card might might reside in a pocket or a purse for a few days and then go into the “round file,” especially if all it offers is a name. I read of a study stating that people are 90% more likely to keep a card with a photo than a card without a photo.
But lets suppose the card went into a drawer. A few months later, when they need an agent or want to tell a friend about you, they have no clues to tell them which of the cards in that desk drawer belongs to you – unless your face is there, smiling at them and reminding them of the good vibes they got from you. With no photo, they’re apt to make the wrong guess and end up calling someone else.
What about that photo?
Make it real. If you want to go to a studio for a professional portrait, do so. But dress the same way you do for business. If you’re a lady, use the same hairdo and makeup that you use for business. You want people to see the same person on the card that they met in person. Glamour photos on cards simply look silly. THAT is when it becomes unprofessional.
I was going to say “Ever see an agent working in an evening gown?” But then I remembered the time I saw an agent dressed in a hot pink, low cut satin sheath and 4″ heels – in her office at 10 a.m. She DID stand out!
Does it have to be professional photography? No – and in fact it could look more natural and friendly if it’s not. Just take care with the background. Some agents prefer to be photographed outdoors, with a house or pleasant scenery for a background. One agent who sells waterfront homes has a lake in the background – an effective clue to his area of specialization.
The beauty of digital photography is that you can keep trying until you get a shot that really looks like you and conveys the feeling you want.
<em>Man handing card Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</em></p>
Glamor Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</em></p>