Technology for the ADHD Real Es…SQUIRREL!!!

Real Estate Agent & Trainer using the power of technology to achieve maximum productivity

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Why you need Google Voice – TODAY!

There are only a few programs or services I recommend with the same fervor as I do Google Voice (“GV”). Let me lay out the case:

0.5 – Before I get started, the first point: IT’S FREE!!!

1. You get to pick your own number – My name is Kale, so the last 4 digits of my GV number spell out KALE. Easy to remember & reinforce your brand or line of work.

2. You determine where it rings – Send it to your cell phone while you’re out. Send calls to your desk phone when you’re in the office. Have GV simultaneously ring your home, cell, and mobile device if you want the convenience of deciding as the phone is ringing.

3. Since you determine where it rings, your clients get seamless service when you’re away – Getting ready to go on that cruise with the family? Program it to send your calls to a colleague’s phone. A programmable setting allows you to determine whether Caller ID shows the caller’s number or your GV number, so change it to the GV number & ask your colleague to answer any calls showing that number as if they’re sitting at your desk. For example, if your client is expecting you, “John Doe,” you can ask “Mary Lamb” to answer “John Doe’s office, Mary speaking” instead of “This is Mary.” How’s THAT for professional?!?

4. Transcribed voicemails – Set your phone to send calls to GV voicemail instead of your provider’s voicemail, and a transcribed copy of the message will be sent to you via text message and/or email. This will help you determine if you need to drop everything & return the call or if it can wait (80/20 focus at its finest). If by email, the sound file will be attached. No more “I never said that!” when you can email them the sound of their own voice.

5. No more fat-fingering or misdialing a number found online – Download the GV extension for your web browser (which, IMHO, should be Google Chrome anyway), and when a phone number appears on a webpage, simply click it to call. A pop-up will ask you which phone you would like GV to ring, and once you’ve answered the phone specified, GV automatically dials the number for you. You can’t possibly get through your database touches any faster than when you bring up the next contact in your database program as your current call is winding down. Say “Goodbye,” hit the “Connect” button in the pop-up window, and you’re speaking with the next contact faster than answering call-waiting.

6. Define groups & have each hear a customized message and/or ring to a different location – Have your current clients to come to you immediately, but people who are not listed in your address book go to voicemail or be screened (where they are asked to say their name so you can decide whether to take the call). Not a problem. In the cold-calling zone? Send everyone except those marked as “Prospects” directly to voicemail.

Have you signed up yet? If not, go to http://www.google.com/voice and get started right now.

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Favorite Websites vol. 1

Frequently I’ll be working with or talking with an agent about how to improve their business and/or life, and I find them scrambling for a pen as soon as I say “.com.” In order to keep whiplash injuries down, I thought I’d start listing them here. Of course, this will only be a partial list, but at least it will provide you with some helpful – or just plain cool – websites I often use and recommend.

Social Media

Digsby (www.Digsby.com) – Does your notification area look like a small town with the icons for AIM, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, and all of their cousins? Digsby allows you to incorporate all of your chat programs into one stream and shows a dashboard for notifications & pending messages from sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, etc. Contacts can be segmented into groups, and an icon will tell you which service they’re using.

Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) – IMHO (In my humble opinion), THE BEST service to read & post updates on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. Design your screen with 1-4 “streams” (basic Twitter stream, keyword streams, list streams, etc.) and connect with up to 5 services for free. My favorite feature is the ability to pre-post updates. Schedule a reminder about Daylight Saving Time to go out to your sphere. Tweet posts of your favorite quotes on a set schedule. Going on vacation & don’t want people to notice your absence? Post random notes throughout the time you’ll be gone. The possibilities are endless!

Computer Safety

AVG Antivirus (free edition: free.avg.com) – My preferred antivirus program. ‘Nuff said.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (www.malwarebytes.com) – It removes malware and it’s good. What else can I say?

Financial Protection

Home Inventory (www.KnowYourStuff.org) – If you were the victim of a theft, fire, or natural disaster, would you have any idea where to begin in listing your assets for the insurance company? You will if you use this program. Designed & maintained by the Insurance Information Institute, you can rest assured that the list won’t fall into the wrong hands. Create a room-by-room inventory of your home, list the model & serial numbers, all the purchase information, and even upload a picture of the item AND a scanned copy of your receipt. Online storage allows you to access it anywhere, or download a copy onto a CD & put it in your safe / safe deposit box. (NOTE: A business version is available at http://www.BusinessInventory.com)

“Embedding” a video in your email

Keller Williams has created a monthly video series entitled “This Month in Real Estate,” or ‘TMIRE’ for short It’s a phenomenal look at the current market and is short enough to keep most anyone interested. It’s highly recommended as a touch for agents to use in their 12-Touch or 33-Touch program. However, many agents don’t do it because it’s perceived to be some huge magic trick of computer coding that John Q. Agent couldn’t figure out.

So I’m here to do what I love to do – demystify the process & show you how easy it is for you to do it. Let me first pull back the curtain and show you the biggest secret: it’s usually NOT a video embedded in an email because videos themselves consume a HUGE amount of space that would take a long time to download into email – if the email provider would even allow something of that size through. It’s merely a picture – a teaser, if you will – from the video that acts as a hyperlink to the actual video.

Today’s lesson will consist of three components:

  1. The video
  2. The teaser picture
  3. The email

The video

In most cases, this will be the store-bought ingredient of the bunch, or you may want to create your own video. YouTube, Vimeo, Metacafe, Hulu and others will host your videos online and usually allow you to embed them into your blog or website if you like. Creating, editing, & uploading a professional-looking video is a topic for another day, so we’re going to go with a pre-existing video. When you find the video you want to e-mail, such as the TMIRE video,  you will find a button like “Share” (terminology may vary by site) underneath it. YouTube makes this very easy and provides the instructions “Paste this link into an email or instant message:” followed by a URL (“Uniform Resource Locator” – or a fancy way of saying a web address, like http://www.ThePolarisTeam.com). When you click in the box displaying the URL, YouTube conveniently highlights then entire address for you. You have the option of right-clicking and selecting “Copy,” or using Ctrl+C to copy it to your clipboard. For now, however, just watch the video (preferably in full-screen mode) so we can get the teaser pic.

The teaser pic

You may already have a graphic or picture that you want to serve as the teaser pic. If so, you can skip this part. If not, a great way to get one is to watch the video you wish to send and find a frame – some portion of the video – which looks good and represents the content of the video. Before you get started, it’s recommended that you select the image editing software (Microsoft Office Picture Manager is fine, but use what you wish) and open it. We will be cutting-and-pasting shortly, and the clipboard may lose the image if you wait until then to starting the program.

I usually recommend watching the video in full-screen mode for best results, but try it various ways until you find your preference. Good teaser pics usually aren’t the stock layout opener at the very beginning of the video, or the moment when the talking head is caught mid-word and looking like she’s just been surprised. Find a graph, a smiling face, or some illustration that piques the interest of your reader.

When you’ve isolated that moment which embodies the message & will interest your reader, simply pause the video. This may take a few tries so you don’t get blurring or faded backgrounds, but you can do it. After you’ve paused the video – and preferably after the progress bar at the bottom or pause symbol in the middle have disappeared – press “PRTSC” or “Print Screen” on your keyboard. This is, in effect, the same as Ctrl+C in that it copies the image from your computer screen to the clipboard. Switch to the image editing software you opened earlier, and select “Edit -> Paste” or use Ctrl+V to paste it into the program. Crop the picture to remove anything that is not part of the picture you wish to use, and resize if necessary. Picture Manager has recommended sizes named Web-Small and Email-Large which are great for teaser pics, depending on how big you want the teaser to appear in your contact’s email.

Once you have cropped and resized the photo, save it to your hard drive. Now you will want to upload it to a photo library or hosting site. Keller Williams agents have a free one built into their website administration under Section 1.3. If your library is full (you can have up to 50 hosted here), or you are not a KW agent, Flickr is a great service. Just be sure you don’t use something like Facebook where membership and/or registration is required to see the picture. Once you’ve uploaded the picture, you’ll need to get the URL for it. Often you can do this by bringing up the photo in your web browser, right-clicking and selecting “Copy Image URL” (terminology may vary by browser).

The email

Now we get to bring it all together. I’m going to use the words and commands from Microsoft Outlook because it is a very commonly-used email client, so yours may vary slightly. In your email program, begin a new message. Enter the recipients you wish to send the video to, remembering that anyone shown in the “To:” or “CC:” lines will get copied if any recipient clicks “Reply All.” This could present a very embarrassing situation. I recommend entering your email in the To line and using the BCC line for all recipients. Type the greeting and opening lines of your choice, and introduce the video. After explaining why the contact should watch the video, a simple “Click the image below to watch this month’s news” works fine, but make it sound conversational for you.  Skip down about 3 lines and type your closing lines or the remainder of your email if you wish.

Now go back and click on the first new line under your video introduction. Click “Insert -> Picture” from the toolbar at the top. In the space marked “Picture Source,” paste the Image URL from the teaser picture above and enter pertinent Alternate Text if you wish – such as “January 2011 TMIRE,” then click “OK.”

Once the image appears in the email, highlight it by clicking just to the left of the image and dragging the mouse to the right. With the image selected, click “Insert -> Hyperlink” from the toolbar at the top. When the dialog box appears for the hyperlink, simply go back to the video you wish to send, copy the URL for it, switch back to your email client and paste it into the box marked “URL:” and click “OK.” Now simply click “Send” and watch it go.

Voila! You’ve mastered the magic of sending out a video to your database. On this blog, it might look like a lot of work, but once you’ve done it a couple times you’ll have your newsletter out in 5-10 minutes at most. Go do it!