How Starbucks Fast-Tracked My Real Estate Career—And I’m Not Talking About the Caffeine

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Rebecca Donatelli

Rebecca Donatelli

By Rebecca Donatelli

Anyone who knows me knows that I love coffee. I usually drink four or five cups per day—no exaggeration. In fact, it’s rare to run into me without a coffee in hand. My friends know it, my clients know it, even my favorite home inspector knows it (the first time I showed up at one of his inspections without a Starbucks drink he asked me if I was sick).

You get the point; your girl loves her coffee. But I’m not here to make you aware of my coffee drinking habits. What I am here to tell you is how coffee helped me go from being a new agent to a top producer in a short period of time. And no, I’m not referring to the caffeine boost.

I’ll be honest, this was a complete accident. When I got into the business at age 24, I didn’t think sharing my love for coffee would help me sell more houses. Not in the slightest.

What’s the first thing you are told when you get into the real estate business? Sit down, write out your sphere, and contact all of them to let them know you just got your real estate license, right? Well, when I went to write mine out, my page was blank. I had no connections in my market, and all of my friends had either moved away or had just signed a lease for a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Cleveland. On top of that, any time I set a listing appointment or buyer consultation with a potential new client, I found myself up against 20-year veterans who had a book of sales as long as the dictionary. Hence, I was at a disadvantage and needed to figure out how to overcome that.

Social media ended up becoming an invaluable outlet, allowing me to build my business in a relatively short period of time. While I was busy sharing photos of listings, sales, and happy clients on Instagram, what was NOT intentional was using coffee to build a unique brand. You see, I drink so much coffee that it ended up creating a presence in many of my posts. I started to be referred to as “the Cleveland REALTOR® who loves her coffee.” Agents who follow me from other states—most of whom I had never actually met—started tagging me in their posts that included coffee. Then, who do you think they called when they had a referral looking to buy or sell in the Cleveland market? The “Cleveland REALTOR® who loves her coffee.”

While this was completely accidental, I have used it to build a memorable brand for myself. It has became so significant in my real estate business that I launched a speaking and consulting company where I travel the country teaching other REALTORS® how to utilize social media for their businesses, too.

I am not saying that my love for coffee is unique to me—millions of people love coffee. However, I have capitalized on it and used it as a way for people to remember me.

Social media can be an extremely valuable tool for building any sort of business, but it’s especially fitting for real estate. As you look for new ways to grow your book of business, not only should you be on some sort of social media platform, but you should also be consistently sharing a passion or trait that will allow people to recognize and remember you. It may be a specific item, hobby, or habit that can become part of your brand. Intertwine that with a little real estate, and you’ll be good to go.

Now, it’s time for you to go build your brand, while I go grab a coffee!

Rebecca Donatelli, ABR, SRS, is a residential agent and team lead of The Rebecca Donatelli Team with McDowell Homes Real Estate Services in Cleveland, Ohio. She was honored in REALTOR® Magazine’s 2019 class of 30 Under 30 and was voted a Top REALTOR® in Northeast Ohio by Cleveland Magazine in 2018 and 2019. She has built a large online presence through social media, specifically Instagram. Follow her @rebeccadonatelli.REALTOR.

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Comments 2

  1. Pingback: How Starbucks Fast-Tracked My Real Estate Career—And I’m Not Talking About the Caffeine - South Carolina REALTORS

  2. Rebecca: This is pretty cool. Never would I have thought to connect with coffee. You have challenged me to brain storm for other common ground hashtags to use in my own market.

    How long and how many post did it take before you started seeing traction in your market? Months? Years? Obviously the hashtag used can play a significant role but just curious.

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