Nicole Smith had just become licensed to sell real estate in 2014 when she joined EXIT Realty Twin Bridges, Brokerage, in Ontario as a sales representative. She was a new mom with a newer career, but despite her inexperience in the industry, Nicole was able to gain a tremendous amount of traction in a very short time. Within her first calendar year, she closed 55 ends and was named Canadian Rookie of the Year. Nicole then went on to sponsor four associates into EXIT, netting her a potential $40,000 per year in passive residual income. She did this by building her personal brand around relationships first, and coupling it with novel marketing and fun, positive engagement with her network.

Building a database from scratch

One of the first tasks of any new real estate professional is building a database. But don’t fret if the size of your sphere of influence feels inadequate. “Once you start working on it, you realize your network is bigger than you think,” says Nichole, who jump started her database using her wedding invitation list and her connections on social media, among others. Her recommendation is to take stock of everyone you know personally and professionally to build out the first phase of your database. Then, move into phase two by expanding your sphere of influence through local groups and events. “I mostly use Facebook because it’s the best place for finding groups based in my community.” Nicole is an active member on many local pages, posting helpful comments, having meaningful conversations, and radiating positivity. She’s also quick to get involved with local events and charities, but it’s never to directly promote herself. “I’m just there to make connections with others and have fun. When they’re ready to sell, I hope I’ll be top of mind.” The third phase of her strategy is to build on her professional connections with others within the industry. She does this by participating at her local real estate board, engaging with her colleagues, and attending plenty of training and industry events. “The bottom line is that you need to be active in your community if you want to reach a lot of people,” she says.

Standing out from the crowd

When you’re new to the industry, it can be challenging to establish your name among a sea of competitors. In addition to being active on local Facebook pages to build brand recognition, Nicole started canvassing her target market using a combination of flyers and door knocking. But it was clever marketing that really made her name pop in her area. As she door knocks, in exchange for contact information, she hands out free, branded paper lawn leaf bags which homeowners are eager to fill and leave curbside. “They’re basically real estate signs,” says Nicole. “It’s not cheap, but I’ve gotten amazing responses from it.” Afterwards, homeowners can share a picture of the bag in front of their house on social media to be entered into a contest. This is just one of many contests Nicole runs to engage with her community. Previous contests have required submitting pictures of a favorite local restaurant or dream neighborhood. “I’m constantly doing contests awarding tickets to local events or gift cards to local shops. It gets people excited and even helps me build relationships with local business owners.” Nicole’s outside-the-box approach helped establish her name quickly within her community in a playful, engaging way.

 Learning to Sponsor

The opportunity to sponsor and earn residual income was a key factor in Nicole’s decision to join EXIT Realty. “But sponsoring can be intimidating when you’re new – especially around agents who are more experienced than you are,” she says. Her solution was to use Kijiji to meet aspiring agents. She would lend her real estate textbooks out for free, along with an open offer for career advice, mentorship, and the opportunity to shadow Nicole as her sponsor once they became licensed. “Seeing the ins and outs of a transaction really helped them learn. Before long, they were comfortable going off on their own.”

What helped Nicole get the confidence to sponsor seasoned agents was EXIT Realty’s Ambassador Training taught by Erica Nasby. “I’m not pushy by nature, so I struggled at first,” says Nicole. “But Erica gave me the words to articulate what makes EXIT so special and the confidence to know the difference between being pushy and passionate.” From there she went on to sponsor two established agents, and now has six soon-to-be-sponsors getting licensed. “I save all the stubs from my residual cheques each year. This system really works, and I hope it motivates others to overcome their inhibitions and start sponsoring.”

Whether you’re new to real estate or just trying to gain traction, Nicole shows how far you can go by being authentic and creating meaningful engagements with those in your network. To hear the full story of Nicole’s journey, EXIT Associates can listen to her 30 Minutes to Greatness agent webinar on the Resource Center. For information about Ambassador Training with Erica Nasby, please contact


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