Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent over six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.
The Clubhouse frenzy is alive and well. People are clamoring, practically begging for invites. Although prices seem to be dropping on eBay, invites are still selling. Yes, really. The FOMO (fear of missing out) is quite intense.
A couple of weeks ago, I penned, “What the heck is Clubhouse? Here’s the haps on this invite-only app.” Since then, I’ve spent time perusing the various “rooms” and “clubs” on Clubhouse as I struggle to find the answer to, “what is the point?” Long fascinated with social media, new applications always make me ponder the best way to get something of value from the experience.
Folks out there are spending hours a day on Clubhouse. Why? What are they getting from it? Is Clubhouse a useful tool for building business or your brand? So many questions.
What’s the appeal?
I had the pleasure of speaking with Renee Funk about her Clubhouse experience. Leader of The Funk Collection Team (love that name!) in Orlando, Florida, Funk (@reneefunk) has amassed 3,124 followers since Dec 29. Like many of us these days, Funk finds herself “videoconferenced out,” telling me quite accurately that “Zoom fatigue is real.”
Therein lies a lot of the appeal of Clubhouse. It’s audio-only. You can open the app anywhere, any time, and find something to listen to or discuss. You don’t have to do your hair, put on makeup, be presentable. In theory, you don’t even need to get dressed (Note: Funk did not mention being disheveled or in pajamas; those are my thoughts).
The audio-only aspect is a little weird at first, but think of Clubhouse as a real-time interactive podcast or a talk radio show. Funk credits her time spent in the eXp Realty virtual world for easing the transition to audio-only. Keep in mind that you don’t have to jump up on the Clubhouse stage and speak immediately; you can get a lot from just listening. Audiobooks were a little strange at first, and now people listen to those in their car or in the background while doing other work. You can also do that with Clubhouse.
Funk sees a lot of value in the mastermind opportunities. There’s an openness to sharing. As with any platform new or old, some self-proclaimed experts are lurking in the halls and rooms of Clubhouse. But as Funk pointed out, “Some big names in business growth are getting in now. Grant Cardone and Gary Vaynerchuk are pouring out tons of info — for free. You could pay hundreds of dollars to hear their keynote addresses.”
What you should know
This “instant access to top-line thought leaders” provides “wonderful opportunities to build your network and relationships,” Funk said. Here are a few things to consider as you get to know the platform.
Don’t focus on consumers (or lack there of)
Funk confirmed my observation that there doesn’t seem to be a large audience of consumers on Clubhouse at this time. No one is thinking, “I need to find a real estate agent,” as they open the Clubhouse app. Once the app gets out of the “invite-only” stage, consumer involvement will likely change.
The lack of homebuying and selling consumers is not a nail in Clubhouse’s coffin. Real estate life is not all about lead generation. Learning and networking with other professionals in the field are essential components in building any successful business. Don’t join Clubhouse if your only goal is directly collecting a commission check.
There are certainly referral opportunities with Clubhouse. You have access to agents across the country, and those agents may just need to refer a client to that smart, articulate agent in Orlando. Clubhouse can be a platform to demonstrate what you know, how you treat clients and why you should be a referral partner.
But even if you never tie a payday to your time on Clubhouse, you can learn strategies and tactics to improve your business, your hobbies and your life. Don’t dismiss Clubhouse due to the current lack of consumer involvement. As Funk pointed out, the app is changing rapidly, adapting on the fly as the audience grows and develops.
Start a regular ‘coffee talk’
When I first wandered into Clubhouse, my immediate thought was it could be an excellent platform for holding regular conversations about your local area. Not just about the real estate market, but also the local lifestyle and attractions. Funk also said she felt “coffee style conversations could be huge.”
Clubhouse conversations are ephemeral — they aren’t recorded, you can’t pull them up on demand, and you can’t share them. At first glance, ephemeral conversations can seem a little pointless. But are the one-on-one chats you have with clients and potential clients pointless? You can’t save or share those conversations either, but they are one of the most powerful tools you have for building a client and prospect database.
You can have those chats on Clubhouse, either one-on-one or one-to-many. This decision will be dependent on your market. I live in a town of 8,000 people. No one is likely to host a “Life in Aransas Pass, Texas” daily or weekly chat. But in a larger metro area, why not? As the Clubhouse user-base grows, you’ll be able to find local merchants and business owners who would love to join with you in discussing the wonders of local living.
Don’t push a message like, “Use the Funk Collection to buy or sell your next home!” Not many respond well to the hard-sell approach. Instead, spend time on why you live in a great area. Highlight local businesses and activities. Provide value, and people will listen.
During that listening, they will get to know you, your style, attitude and knowledge. When they are ready to buy or sell, you will be top-of-mind. In her Clubhouse bio, Funk lists her cell phone with a message to text her or direct message her on her Instagram account. If she keeps up her Clubhouse activity, I have no doubt she’ll be getting texts and DMs from interested buyers and sellers.
Manage your time
Warning: Clubhouse can be addicting and a giant time-suck. As your follower count grows, and as you join and participate in clubs, your phone will light up with notifications. When accessing a Clubhouse chat is as simple as tapping on a notification, it’s easy to get drawn in.
Use the “notification frequency” feature of Clubhouse to reduce this noise. Or shut off notifications entirely from time to time. And don’t forget, you can listen in the background; there is no need to “raise your hand” and get invited to the Clubhouse stage every time you enter a room. As with anything, time management is essential.
Use private rooms
I find private chats with friends one of the best features of Clubhouse. Yes, there are rooms with hundreds of people in them, with verifiable experts dropping truth bombs and gems that can be a compelling way to learn. But in this COVID world, I often find myself missing my friends. While there are times that I desperately need a hug and to be able to look in my friends’ eyes when we’re deep in a conversation, being able to hear their voices provides comfort.
I could pick up the phone and call them. But sometimes that’s intrusive. Conference calls are a hassle and difficult to coordinate with people’s varying availability and schedules. But you can log into Clubhouse, see who is online, and with a couple of taps, open up a private room where you can talk, laugh and cry with your buddies.
Venture out of the real estate space
It’s easy for real estate to consume every waking moment. You have a difficult, demanding job. You wake up every day unemployed. Inman just released a survey that shows many of you work seven days a week and 60 hours a week. Be careful — that’s burnout territory.
I’ve been a part of some fantastic conversations on Clubhouse about fishing, travel, photography and writing. Those are passions of mine outside the real estate field. Find your non-business passions, and dive in. The momentary escape from real estate is healthy, and that time away can reset your head and put it in a better place when business calls.
Clubhouse might seem like a fad. All the cool kids are getting invites. It will soon open up to all (remember, Facebook was for college students only for quite some time). It can be educational, fun and good for business.
It can also be a time-suck, and you need to exercise some caution, as you would with any platform. Can you build your business with Clubhouse? Sure. Can you have fun? Definitely. Can you learn? You bet. Do you have to be on Clubhouse to have a successful business or life? Absolutely not.
Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree living in the Texas Coastal Bend, as well as the one spinning the wheels at Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty. “Retired but not dead,” Jay speaks around the world on many things real estate.