Becoming a person of influence as an appraiser


What does it mean to have influence? Maybe a better question, what does it mean to be a person of influence? The definition of influence includes the word ‘power’, as in the power to affect something, the power to sway based on prestige, ability, position, notoriety, or message. We all have influence over something and someone, even if only ourselves. We have the power to influence and affect how our day turns out despite the influence of outside forces always applying pressure on it. We have the power to influence how our businesses run and how our businesses might influence another. If we didn’t, some might say ‘what’s the point?’.

If we weren’t able to influence how our lives and businesses turn out, why put in any effort? The good news is that we do have the ability to influence how our lives and businesses turn out, and the even better news is that, once you really understand what influence is and how it works, the path becomes much clearer. The day you awaken to the power of influence is the day your directive becomes much clearer: become a person of influence.

Friends, it’s no secret that the world is changing rapidly. Sometimes changes occur and then eventually swing back to the way they were. And sometimes things change never to go back to the way they were regardless of whether or not the old way was better. Many of the things changing in the world today will never go back to the old way of doing things. The sooner you wrap your head around the fact that change is truly the only constant, the quicker you’re able to first see, and then pivot to take advantage of opportunities. Those clinging to the old ways will do what those kinds of people typically do; complain, yell at others for doing things differently, call people heretics and industry killers, and just generally be unpleasant.

And then there are those who, not only embrace change, but encourage it, take advantage of it, and leverage it in their favor. The great thing is that we always have a choice of whether or not we’ll be the former or the latter. Will you be the one screaming on social media that your world is coming to an end? Or will you be one of those quietly creating in the shadows and reaping the benefits of your ingenuity? The choice is always yours.

One of the great things about the time we currently live in is that it’s a time that has never existed before. I know that sounds like a bit of mental ‘trickeration’, but what I mean is that there has never been a time when almost every one of us carries around a mini supercomputer in our pockets. That supercomputer gives us 24-7 access to real time news updates, the ability to make massive calculations and predictions like never before, the ability to connect with people on the other side of the planet in milliseconds, a sophisticated media production studio in your pocket, and the ability to start, scale, run, and monetize business ideas and opportunities from your bedroom.

This episode is not about the power of the smartphone, although I could probably do a whole hour-long episode on just that topic. No, this episode is about influence and become a person who leverages theirs. The smartphone is just a tool, but it’s a symbolic tool because you can’t talk about the power of influence in the world today without mentioning it because never before in history has the average person like you and I had the same power as a big brand or a media company, until now. Think of Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan, Justin Bieber, and the tens of thousands of YouTubers, TikTokkers, Instagrammers, and social influencers who were nobody yesterday, but somebody commanding millions of eyeballs and attention today.

In some cases, the average guy or girl is more powerful and influential than the old traditional media companies. Joe Rogan, as an example, has more than 15 million followers on YouTube. When he puts out an interview it gets 10X the reach and views than a news story on CNN or Fox. I’m not advocating one way or another for an internet personality, simply pointing out the power of influence that exists within all of us, and the power to create more influence for yourself, which, in turn, has the ability to create a whole ecosystem of opportunity for you and others.

One of my mentors is a man named Daniel Priestly. Daniel is an author, speaker, multiple business creator, coach, and mentor to many. I’ve never actually met Daniel in person, but I feel like I know him personally because of his books, his content, his speaking engagements, and his message about becoming a key person of influence. His message is a simple one and it’s one that I want to share with all of you in this episode. His message is one that, when I first read his book in 2017, resonated deeply with me because it was something that I had been living and building without knowing it. The simple message is this: the quickest way to success in business is to become a person of influence.

I’m going to be sharing with you the 5 things you need to be doing to become a person of influence, and also why these things are important. But, before we do that, it’s important that I reiterate what I started off this show with. Things are never going back to the way they were. Many industries are changing very fast and will never be what they were even a year or two ago. If you’re not keeping up, as much as it pains me to say this, you will be relegated to living below the API. If you’re not familiar with that term, search out the episode I did on that subject. In short, in this day and age, you’re either the creator or you’re the consumer. When you’re the consumer, you’re dictated to by the algorithm and the software. When you’re the creator, you get to dictate some of the outcomes, how people come to you, and how they utilize you and your services.

The first thing I believe you need to be doing in order to become a person of influence in your market is to be presenting all the time. What do I mean by ‘presenting’? I mean that everybody is selling something, and if you’re not presenting all the time what you’re offering or selling, how will you ever get new business coming in? Real estate agents and loan originators might recognize this as prospecting or pitching their product. Appraisers listening are probably cringing at the words prospecting and pitching because most of them got into the business so they wouldn’t have to be in a sales type job. Well, I hate to break the news to everyone listening, regardless of what industry you’re currently in, but every one of us is selling at all times. The only question is, who is it most important for you to be presenting and selling to in your specific role? For lenders, you need to be presenting to and pitching to agents and the home buying public all the time. For agents, you need to be presenting to the potential home buyers and sellers all the time. For appraisers, you should be presenting to agents, lenders, title agents, attorneys, financial planners, and anybody else who might have the ability to refer you business or refer you to the person who needs your services and product offerings.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the janitor at a warehouse, a waitress at a diner, or the CEO of a large corporation, your job is to sell you, your ideas, your work ethic, your proposals, your vision, your ability to influence, your products, and your services. If you don’t like the thought or idea that you are always in a position of presenting and selling, you will always be at the bottom of pyramid competing with everyone else who doesn’t want to present, promote, influence others, and not just be a commoditized factory worker. No offense to factory workers, they’re needed and valuable, but they are also the most easily replaceable because they are just carrying out a function or process within the system. When you don’t meet the standards, you’re replaced by somebody who else who can.

So, the first step in becoming a person of influence is to recognize the need to always be presenting what it is you do, what you do differently, and how choosing you is the lowest cost, highest value option given all other options.

The next part of becoming a person of influence, and this ties in closely with presenting, is to be publishing. We live in the age of information and intellectual property. We’ve moved out of the industrial age and into the information age where almost everyone is a walking media company, or at least has the capability to become a media company. Every one of you listening is likely listening on a device that has more photo and video capability than professional studio cameras had just 20 years ago. You have the ability to write, create, record audio and video, and publish to the world to make yourself known like no other time in history.

One of the great things about the world we live in today is that publishing content digitally is easy, the tools are readily available, and the final product transcends time, space, and decay, unlike the days of old where a video tape or a record album needed to be in your hands, you needed the player to play it, and it would degrade and decay over time. With digital content, you can be anywhere in the world, you can listen, watch, and participate when YOU want to, and the quality never degrades.

Studies have been done and the results show the amount of time the average person researches things before they feel comfortable making a decision. That number is approximately seven hours of content consumed before the person felt confident enough in a product, a service, or a person to make an educated choice. So, the question becomes, do you have at least 7 hours’ worth of consumable content out in the world so somebody could get to know you, like you, and trust you before making a decision to choose you? If not, why not? You can write blogs, make videos, record podcasts, write short books and white papers, interview others, start a YouTube channel, do webinars, and the list goes on. Becoming a person of influence almost guarantees some level of success and publishing content is a requirement if you want to stop trading your time for dollars at some point. If you don’t mind always trading one of your hours for some amount of money, keep doing what you’ve been doing. However, if you want to someday move beyond trading your time for money, you’re going to have to get good at presenting and publishing content, it’s that simple. 

The third part of becoming a person of influence is to choose one of two paths: either productize, or at a bare minimum ‘packagize’ (my word;)). Productizing is simply defining a problem your market has, developing a solution(s), and turning your solutions into easily understandable and buyable products. Packagizing is closely related, but slightly different in that some people are just not going to have the wherewithal to turn their service into a product, so the next best thing is to at least have packages of your product or service so that your clients and customers have a choice in how they spend their money with you. 

If I’m talking to appraisers with this step, productizing simply means taking what you offer in the way of appraisal services and creating different product offerings for your market to easily get educated on, and then purchase without you having to do much in the way of personally educating, assessing, talking with them on the phone, consulting with them and so on. Of course, this can be difficult to do in the lending side of the appraisal world, which is why we focus so heavily on the non-lender side of this business. The non-lender side of the appraisal business lends itself much more nicely to creating a productized service offering since you’re more free to get creative with what your market of potential clients might want to purchase from you. 

Other examples of productizing a service business would be to write books that you can sell, have free and paid communities that people can join, offer monthly recurring services that your clients get value from, and so on. I mention it because it’s a completely different way of thinking about business, especially when it comes to service businesses like the appraisal business.

An example from one of my own businesses is my coaching business. When I first started coaching people many years ago, I did it as a one-on-one transaction. I traded my hour, they traded their hour, and they got coaching. Obviously, that type of business doesn’t scale because it’s dependent on how many hours I have available each day and week, not to mention the amount of emotional energy I have available to give to people throughout the day. After 2 or 3 back-to-back coaching calls, the law of diminishing returns kicks in and I have less and less to give the next clients. One way to solve that issue was to productize my coaching business by having multiple different offerings like small group coaching, large group coaching (Appraiser Increase Academy), events, webinars, and a variety of different products people can choose from. 

A step down from productizing, but still an important strategy for becoming a person of influence, is to at least ‘packagize’ your offerings. This simply means that you need to have packages that you can offer your clients, instead of one basic product or service. In my appraisal company, we have several different packages that people can choose from depending on what they need. They can pay for the full package, the drive-by package, the desktop package, and the consulting package. Each one of those packages comes with different value added mini-products or services like a screen capture video highlighting the key points of the appraisal, or a 3D rendering of their home for them to have and keep forever. All of those little value-added options with your packages take little to no extra time, but you can charge more for and they add lots of value for the customer.

The next part of becoming a person of influence is what I call your persona. Your persona is the version of you that the public sees. It’s your social profiles, your posts, your videos, your blog posts, your notoriety, your opinions, and your celebrity out in the world of the internet, in your market, and on social media. If you can’t be found, you might as well not exist in the world of business in the 21st century. Harsh, I know, but it’s the reality of the world we live in today. If you want to build a successful business as a solopreneur, your customers and clients have to first be able to find you, but then they have to be able to spend some time with you virtually so that they can come to know you, like you, and eventually trust you before they ever reach out to do business with you.

Everything we’re talking about in this episode is about business strategy that, not only shortcuts the process of building something, it’s also about bypassing many of the traditional means of marketing and advertising from the days of old. Instead of running an ad in a magazine or local paper, you can now create a YouTube channel, a podcast, or speak in front of a group of 40 to 100 people who specifically want to hear what you have to say. With traditional advertising and marketing methods, 80% or more of the cost is wasted on people that have no interest in what you have to say and no need to do business with you. This is called ‘watering the concrete’. 

If you were to set up a sprinkler on your lawn so that it can be watered and turn into a lush, green lawn at some point, you wouldn’t set up the sprinkler on the edge of the lawn along your driveway with the water spraying onto the driveway. You’d set it up so that the vast majority of the water ends up on the lawn. When you pay for advertising or most forms of marketing, a large portion of the money it costs you is to put your name, your brand, or your offer in front of people is wasted money because you’re talking to people who will never need your services, never choose you, and maybe never even see your marketing. You’re watering the concrete when you choose to use traditional advertising and marketing methods to build a business. 90% or more of the people who get your mailer, your advertisement, or your marketing piece have no interest in what you’re selling. It’s that simple.

What we’re talking about when we talk about becoming a person of influence is flipping the old traditional methods on their head and making yourself magnetic to the very group of people who need and want what you do or what you’re offering. To become magnetic to the specific group of people who want and need what you offer, you must be findable. The question you should be asking every single week is, ‘how do I make myself more findable for the people who already want to buy what I want to sell?’ The way you make yourself findable is with your presentations, your content (publishing), the way you productize and package your stuff, and your profiles and persona.

Google did a study back in 2010 and then wrote a little book about it called, ‘Zero Moment of Truth’, which is how they define the key moment when somebody begins researching a product, topic, or service on the internet. This is the key moment that buying actually begins because all of us as consumers want to feel educated, knowledgeable, and feel like we know the people and products we’ll eventually end up choosing when the final moment of truth occurs, which is when we collapse all other buying options into one key moment of selecting who and what we will choose. One of the data points their study uncovered was that the average person consumes around 7 hours of content on a person, a product, or a service in their pre-buying research.

The important question then becomes, ‘how many hours of content is there out in the world for your future customers and clients to get to know you better?’ Is there at least 7 hours of content for them to consume so that when they are ready to make their selection, they feel like they know you? If not, why not? What are you waiting for?

Here’s the thing about content and how it has an inbuilt bit of time bending magic. If I asked you how many hours you have in your day you would be forced to answer based on science. You’d inevitably say 24 hours, as would 99% of most people. However, about 1% of us who create content have more than 24 hours each day available to us, and here’s how. When I record a podcast and send it out to the world, somewhere around 11,000 people are going to consume it over the next week. If an episode is about an hour long, that means that I actually had 11,000 hours last week conversing with people at some level. That means I had around 2700 hours in front of potential clients and customers last week along, or about 400 hours per day talking to people who are getting to know me, possibly like me, and hopefully trust me on some level. If you wanted to spend 2700 hours in front of potential clients and customers next week, you couldn’t physically do it, unless you spoke to a huge crowd of that many people, two crowds have that size for an hour each, three crowds of 900 people, and so on.

We have an arena in my city called the VanAndel Arena and it holds about 11,000 people for hockey games, and about 13,000 people for concerts. By putting out content every week in some form I am getting in front of a completely sold out VanAndel Arena each and every week. Imagine what you could do to get in front of a sold out arena every week beyond being a professional athlete or rock star. To be clear, I am neither of those things, nor do I share that to be arrogant or to brag in some way. I tell you simply to share how math works in the world when you focus on becoming a person of influence. You could have coffee with one or two lenders this week, which will cost you at least 4 to 5 hours of your time. You met 2 people for the hard cost of 4 to 5 hours, which is actually an opportunity cost of 12 to 15 hours lost or invested, depending on how you look at it. Those invested hours might turn into something valuable, and maybe not. But what if you could have virtual coffee with 20, 50, 200, or 11,000 people each week? Which one would you choose? Better question, which one should you choose?

This is why your persona and profile matters so much in your effort to become a person of influence. Just do a Google search of your name and see what comes up? Is there at least 7 hours of research and content on you or from you that a potential client or customer can invest time in to get to know you? If not, that’s what you need to start to focus on. Inspect all of your social profiles from the perspective of a potential customer and get a sense of what they might think about you from their research. Are 50% of those people going to be turned off because you post all of your political and religious views? Are people going to get the impression that you’re an alcoholic because of all your party pics? Your public persona is a crucial piece of becoming a person of influence.

I’ll wrap this episode up with the last important part of becoming a person of influence, and that is to prospect less and partner more. Now, I already know that the vast majority of you do zero prospecting as it is, so maybe partnering will sound a little more palatable and enjoyable to you. What is partnering? Exactly as it sounds! When you’re prospecting, you’re trying to find people who have the ability to buy what you’re offering and, for many of you, without anything of substance offered in return. You’re like a basic vending machine waiting for people to put some coins in you and you give them a Snickers bar in return, which they can get from any number of vending machines on every street corner.

When you have a partnering mindset, you’re looking for people and companies who think like you do and value a long-term relationship that adds value for all parties. Instead of a transactional relationship where somebody just seeks you out for that Snickers bar, you find people, groups, and companies that maybe want to trade education, hold mutually beneficial seminars, share client lists, and add value in a variety of different ways beyond just the product or service you offer. Think of these as alliances, collaborations, and joint ventures.

An example from my own appraisal business is the partnership we have with several title companies. They value our educational offerings and the benefit it provides to them in the way of putting 50 to 150 realtors and lenders in an auditorium for a couple hours of education sponsored by the title company. There’s tremendous mutual benefit for both of our companies in doing these events since we share those people as valued and valuable clients. I get to add value for those people, thus giving me recognition as a person of influence interested in their growth and prosperity, and the title company gets recognition as the company who sponsored the event, which shows that they value the same things. Win win! Stop prospecting and start partnering if you want to become a person of influence.

Present, publish, package, persona, and partner if you want to build the business that comes to you instead of you always having to chase after it. Until next week, I’m out…

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