Relationships Matter…Connectivity via the Blogosphere

Less than Six Degrees of Separation




















They say that we are all separated by just six degrees from every single person in the entire world.  This theory about the Human Web is a powerful reminder of the fact that we’re all connected…and that connections and relationships matter!

A couple of months ago, I was in Ann Arbor, MI to teach a series of two Real Estate Continuing Education Classes, Blogging Basics for Real Estate Professionals (K1061) and Blogging Basics for Real Estate Professionals K(1062).

Prior to my experiences on the blogosphere, I would have walked into a room of complete strangers.  But, the blogosphere has a way of making strangers into friends.

Karen Moorhead was the first person I met, or should I say hugged. I had never met Karen or Marian Gregor who introduced herself next, but meeting both of these ladies felt like greeting a friend.

When Missy Caulk walked in, it was great to see her again after our first meeting in Grand Rapids last year. There were several agents from Missy’s Keller Williams office and I had the opportunity to meet Chet Hill, the Broker and office manager.

One of the benefits of having fellow bloggers in the class was in the way in which their presence expanded the discussion.  Missy, Karen & Marian were generous in sharing their insights with the class in a way in which really enriched the experience for everyone. 

This is one of the most impressive contributions of the blogosphere to our profession; the sharing of ideas and the power of the synergy which this generates. 

The picture above illustrates in a way, one of the ways this has impacted my learning curve.  Everyone in the flower circle is a person who I’ve talked with because of my blogging…an individual who I might never have met or learned from apart from this remarkable medium.

I’d have missed getting to know Jeff & Racquel Turner who are extraordinary people in so many ways, nor would I have known about Real Estate Shows, a service which has generated thousands of hits to my listings and website.  

Talking with Jeff Dowler and the subsequent introduction to Amber Riviere would never have happened.  Jeff Dowler is also a trainer at heart and Amber, an innovative writer and entrepreneur.  And then last but, not least…I wouldn’t have been embraced by a warm circle while visiting another city for a presentation.

 This experience has given me the privilege of a less than six degree connection through which I’ve talked with or met the Broker & the Lovely Wife from Florida, Midori Miller my friend and fellow trainer, Sally Cheesman in Hawaii, Jesse Clinton in Alaska, Colleen Kulikowski in upstate New York, Sara Bonert andCraig Schiller in Chicago, Lydia & Matt Heaton from Washington, Maureen Francis, Kris Wales, Russ Ravery, Sonya Loose & Gary Smith from Michigan, Carol Smith in Ohio or Steve Volkers and Michelle Gordon in Grand Rapids, MI amongst others. 

Has your world been shrinking since you started blogging?  Mine has…and I think that’s a wonderful thing!

Related Articles:

Blogging Wiz, If Ever a Wiz There was! by Marian Gregor

Real Estate Blog – The BEST con-ed class I’ve ever attended and it … by Kris Wales

Making the Change We Need Happen…Active Rain’s Michigan Agents Lead the Way! by Lola Audu

Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors hosts Lola Audu for Blogging Con Ed by Missy Caulk

Blogging Class Taught By the Wonderful Missy Caulk by Lisa Bender * Coming up in March!

 real estate shows: The Smartest $10.42 Investment I’ve Ever Made! by Lola Audu

Nine Nifty Reading List Suggestions for 2009

Blue Light Ray

Blue Light Ray

2009 is the year to take your knowledge to the next level!   Here’s a partial list of some books which have made an impact in my life and world perspective.  The titles are arranged within similar topical areas.

Trend Setters:

Grown Up Digital by Don Tapscott

The Net Generation (defined as those b/w 11-30) is changing the world as we know it dramatically.  It is imperative that real estate professionals understand this generation and the way in which they are re-shaping the context and methods of communication.  If you don’t think that you will be affected, your model may already be irrelevant and you’re simply unaware…

Nextville by Barbara Corcoran

On the other end of the continuum is Nextville by Barbara Corcoran.  This book talks about the trends impacting another large demographic…baby boomers and their retirement plans.  Written by someone who has had her hand on the pulse of what makes the real estate market tick, I appreciated her insights and engaging way of communicating where she thinks the values and movements of retirees will be trending in the future.

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

This book was given to me as a gift when it first came out in 2006.  Since then, I’ve bought several copies which I’ve given out as gifts.  It’s just that good.  Pink’s ideas about the paradigm shift which is occurring and will necessitate that we evaluate our problems and decisions differently is fascinating.  He uses examples for the world of storytelling, design and symphony to engage you in re-thinking your world.


Mortgage Crisis & Financial Markets:

When Markets Collide by Mohamed El-Erian

This is an interesting book to read if you’d like to understand more of what is happening in the world of global investing.  As it became painfully apparent this year, what happens in this world can dramtically impact our lives as real estate professionals.

Confessions of a Subprime Lender by Richard Bitner

Reading this book was an eye opener.  Enough said.



Affluenza by John DeGraaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor

This book really made me think about what drives us to buy to live.  It’s a thoughtful book which will cause you to examine your live or more simply put, what surrounds your life.  It’s really a book about the stuff of our lives and why this has crippled us as we have continued to strive for more & more & more…

Deep Economy by Bill McKibben

In the real estate industry, we’re seeing a shifting focus towards neighborhoods and communities.  Here on Active Rain, Localism was revamped in view of this trend.  Deep Economy explores how local communities and grassroots movements can be mutually beneficial for society and business and sustainable environmentally.  A thought provoking read…


Inspiration & Spirituality:

The Spiritual Man by Watchman Nee

This three volume series (bound into one book) is one of the most profound spiritual books that I have ever read.  It’s not a quick nor easy read.  It took me a year to read it the first time and I’ve pondered on the depth of truth revealed many times.  Nee’s expose of the inner life of man is one of the most exhaustive and exquisitely mapped guides that I’ve ever encountered.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This book is about the perils of Resistance.  We read through much of it as a group this year.  It forced us to look at the myriad of clever obstacles that we were continually putting in our own paths.  As we enter another year, I would highly recommend this book to jump start your thinking in the right direction

*A more complete list and summary can be found here…

You Just Never Know Who’s Reading…

I’ve been blogging for since November of 2006.  My initial blog on Real Town Blog has expanded and my blogging efforts have grown to include:

Grand Rapids Real Estate Musings…the blog you’re cureently reading.

Active Rain Blog…Real Estate blog

Localism Blog….Local/Grand Rapids MI focus

Facebook…Social Networking which also uploads my blog feeds

Twitter…micro blogging in 140 characters or less

LinkedIn…Largest Network of Professionals in the world

Flickr…Photo Blogging


A snapshot of this past week reveals why the Internet continues to be such a powerful platform.  There were:

2  new website inquires for real estate services,

1 listing appointment who wanted information about our method of home marketing 

3 professional contacts exploring future business opportunities, 

8 new contacts from individuals I had lost touch with on Facebook,

3 comments from visitors to Flickr and a discussion about a local condo project  

1 Neighbor in my community who spoke to me about reading and enjoying my blog.

3 comments about a Brand New Listing w/in the first hour of posting it.

On a combined basis, the totals for the visits to the sites have been extraordinary.  The Active Rain Blog has logged over 1 Million hits since I started blogging there and many leads.  The visibility for listings has risen significantly and we now place Google This Listing Signs on all our listings.

I’ve learned to be more effective with my communication tools.  I’ve used my blog posts for Marketing pieces and to respond to inquires on specific topics.  I’ve found that different readers prefer different sites, so cross posting similar material reaches different audiences.  I’ve also learned about the power of images.   A picture is really worth a 1,000 Words!

This year, I’ll be speaking to real estate agent outside the Greater Grand Rapids, Michigan area to share some courses that I wrote about Blogging and Ethics.  These courses have been approved by the State of Michigan to train agents on using new technology.  (Blogging Basics for Real Estate Professionals K1061 & Blogging Ethics for Real Estate Professionals K1062, Sponsor Code K355 both approved for a total of 4 hours of Continuing Education Credit)

Today, our listings are exported through sophisticated virtual tours across the world.  Home buyers and Home Sellers have an extensive array of articles online to assist them in understanding the market and preparing their homes for sale.

All, this would not have occured without our exposure to the world of online marketing, blogging and social networking.  During a period of time when many agents have gone for 6 months without closing one single transaction, we remain grateful to God for His guidance and wisdom and look forward to continuing to serve our clients with the most innovative tools available to our profession.

How Open Are Things Going To Get…Calculating Value in A Social Network?

beesCourtesy of a link on gigaom  I read a fascinating article today by People Aggregators creator Marc Canter who runs a social networking company called Broadband Mechanics. 

This particular article is answering a question posed by a Paul Montgomery, a gentleman in Tanzania (correction) Geelong, Victoria, Australia regarding why Open ID should be adopted by blogging networks. 

The discussion addresses the implications of moving beyond transparency in communication to a more intimate involvement by users of blogging platforms.  This would be facilitated by a site’s clients utilizing source coding behind the scenes to control access and movement of their individual content.

Yes, it’s very technical, cutting edge stuff about interconnected social networks. In a nutshell the thrust is to enable networking platforms which will allow users to integrate ALL their Web 2.0 activities through one or more sites.  If you’re interested in understanding where this whole Web 2.0 wheel is trending towards next, it is well worth reading.  

However, I found the issues with reference to ownership of content and subsequent monetization particularly interesting in light of recent events on Active Rain regarding the proposed buyout and subsequent lawsuit against 

Marc Canters’ take on ownership of a database (of names) when it comes to a Web 2.0 portal is that you don’t…indeed can’t. In fact he seems to dismiss the issue as ultimately irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

“But dude – look. NO ONE is gonna wanna hang out in YOUR network. Its as simple as that. Trust humans – they migrate to where they’re wanted, to where they’re welcome, to where they feel comfortable. So if someone finds your network comfortable – then it’s the right place for them – right? How do you determine who’s welcome or not in your network? Their proximity to Tanzania? Golfing? Chocolate lover? Gay? Hispanic? By what criteria do you welcome people into your network?”

The issue is not about owning bloggers or owning their content as Canter rightly points out.  It’s about creating a portal which people want to come back to as your guestIt’s also about Attraction and the fine line between being Open & Engaging while repulsing unwanted intruders.  Blocking attempts to Undermine the “sanctity” of an on line environment may prove to be the most pressing and critical issue all networking platforms face in the future.  That is if they want to be profitable. More Cantor in his own words…

“So please stop thinking like you own a database of people. That list of people is there so they can come back and re-log-in. Period” 

In a related post, Marc Canter predicts that: “So 2008 will see a growth in the ability of end-users to freely move between networks – taking their social graphs with them”

With that settled, there are going to be plenty of ways to make money…a lot of money through this medium. It’s going to be a playground for creative thinkers…fortunately, there’s not shortage of them.  Some ideas mentioned on People Aggregators which I appreciated include: (my personal thoughts follow the Bold print)

Sponsorship Deals: Definitely used effectively by Active Rain and other platforms.  But, I think this will be an avenue that individual bloggers explore more extensively in 2008.

Premium Pricing:  Different levels of usage and support on a tiered pricing structure.  For a blogger, this could mean offering readers additional access to certain articles or groups.

Setting Up A Marketplace:  Once again, the Active Rain platform is well ahead of the curve by providing the Referral Network option.  Of course, the monitoring of entries is crucial to ensure that this continues to provide benefit to potential users.  But, this is also an avenue which can be explored by an individual blogger with users who access their niche.  It creates Value and more importantly repeat business.

I can definitely appreciate the huge potential benefits to Open ID.  As more people engage in the blogosphere there will be increased differentiation and specialization…not less.  We can witness this happening with the explosion of groups on the Active Rain platform.  I think it’s only a matter of time before the burden of remembering who you are on which network with any one of a dozen passwords becomes more tedium than the average consumer will consent to suffer.

Copyright 2007 Audu Real Estate  All Rights Reserved

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As the World Turns…Connexions

Na Wa O!  De thing whey happen’ today no be sometim whey one dey forget.  Conexcion…you hear me say um.  My head dey turn.  Na only today whey I take my self go visit some people on one place dem call Facebook. I see one pickin face whey I think say I recognize.  Whether na him O, I no know.  Anyway to make long torie short…I send message to ask de oyimbo man one small question. To say whether na him be de same Kevin Boer whey I know before…before…long time ago!


*The paragraph above is written in Pidgeon English. The following is a story of the power of Connections & how the Internet is connecting people and ideas across continents and bringing new and fresh inspiration from all corners of the globe.

*************        ****************        *****************      **************

Kevin BoerI continue to be amazed at the way in which connections occur.  Today, browsing through Facebook, I came across a familiar name.  It had been decades since I had last encountered this individual in Jos, Nigeria.  I wasn’t even sure it was the same person.  But, a question in an e-mail was quickly answered. Yes, Kevin Boer replied, he had grown up in Nigeria.  His e-mail reply in Pidgeon English certified that!  He and his family had lived in the same community and attended the same school, Hillcrest School that I had graduated from in the early 80’s.

Now, fast forward  several decades.  Kevin Boer is the CEO of 3 Oceans Real Estate in San Francisco. CA and the author of the popular real estate blog by the same name. This summer Kevin moderated one of the forums at the Bloggers Connect Conference.  I’ve stopped by to read the 3 Oceans blog, but never realised that this was the same Kevin whose family had lived overseas for several decades.  It’s funny how a large world can shrink so quickly.

Kevin & I got to chatting this evening and I was amazed at the African Connections which are informing the conversation about real estate across the United States. Kevin shared with me other African Connections that link together many well known services in the real estate world.  They include v-flyer co-founder Martin Muoto who also attended Hillcrest School, Zillow’s Community Relations Director David Gibbons who grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and Stefan Swanepoel who authors the widely influential Swanepoel Trends Report and is also from the Southern region of the continent.  It’s extraordinary to link connections across the world through the blogosphere.  Goodness, the online world is breaking down the “6 degree connection” faster than you can blink an eye!

P.S. Kevin challenged me to write in Pidgeon English.  I’m glad I still know how. 🙂

Here’s A video of one of Africa’s most Famous Songs…this updated version combines Pidgeon English and French.  It is a tribute to Africa’s Mothers…Enjoy!