Women have more opportunity than ever before to succeed in this industry, and need to stop being afraid to practice the art of self-promotion says Tanja Neven-Jones.
Before I proceed to tuck my super hero cape in to my well pressed designer suit and stand on top of my soap box, let it be know that I am not a mad feminist or have no intention of driving a larger wedge into the sexism in real estate argument. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of an industry that allows women to excel and showcase their strengths. Is there still a ‘boys club’ mentality in certain areas? Absolutely – but I believe it is changing. We are no longer relegated to the clerical roles in a real estate office; we are responsible for multi-million dollar transactions and are capable of running multi office networks.
Ladies, we need to be confident in our ability, I believe we need to practice the art of self-promotion and stop selling our selves short! I constantly hear the women in my office, (and myself for that matter) expressing phrases like “it was a team effort” or “I couldn’t have done this all myself” when I know it was the individual woman driving the initiative and motivating those around them to succeed. It is the nurturer and motherly instincts embedded in us that want everyone to be included in our success. Let us start taking some ownership of our individual achievements!
When researching the topic and asking the men I work with what is their perception of women in real estate, I was more than thrilled with response I received. I hope I gained honest answers and not fabricated responses because deep down they are intimidated by me or terrified of making me cry on a particularly hormonal day. “Trustworthy, empathetic, organised with the ability to multi task” is what was communicated to me – and also what I expected, no surprises really. When studying closely the key attributes of the incredible ladies I work with there were some key differences that were a stand out. The successful women in our organisation are ladies in their mid to late thirties, are well traveled and are seeking their own financial independence. They understand their superannuation fund is not handed to them from their husbands will. In saying that our well-heeled ladies are definitely more people focused, rather than money focused, the dollars roll in as a by product of incredible customer service and follow up.
In an ideal world, I would love for each of the listing presentations conducted by our office to be handled by a female/male combination. There is nothing more delightful than the genuine interaction and exchange of banter on facets of the property in which we have an interest. I rarely catch myself clapping my hands with excitement when presented with a four-car garage enclosing a fully restored 1972 XY GT Falcon. But get me in front of a fully fitted walk in robe with dressing room, soft lighting and hand bag storage and you will have to pry myself and the proud lady vendor out with a crowbar. The one aspect of a presentation when conducted by a woman individually is there wonderful ability to understand that ‘one size does not fit all’ we are able to adapt our character and change our listing style depending on the client, without seeming fake or insincere and given our broad demographic here in Frankston is a skill that is necessary.
Women make up less than a third of the real estate industry in Victoria, and many work in Property Management, we are incredibly capable in this department as we are patient, focused and organised. However, the driving factor and probably more realistic factor would be the security of a set wage, (plus bonuses in most companies) and Monday – Friday schedule, to allow for some family time. Not to generalise but perhaps the reason men are not attracted to the role of property manager as industry recognition is not as great as their sales counterparts. The office ‘hero’ is always the sales consultant who achieves the greatest amount of commission for the month, and nothing gets testosterone flowing more than a big shiny trophy. On the contrary, the girls are stepping up to the plate and putting themselves on public display in the discipline of auctioneering. Perhaps we are desperate for some much needed attention. With natural flair and energy, a female auctioneer is a dynamic point of difference to any agency in this male dominated sector of real estate. Talented ladies are gracing the competition circuit and city streets on Saturdays, showing we are embracing the culture and accepting that we too are worthy.
In a former life I was a primary school teacher, but I discovered very quickly I wasn’t particularly patient with other people’s children, none the less education and constant up skilling is a massive part of what I advocate in our office. I find personally that women are eager to learn and listen, take on board suggestions, accept and adapt to change and adjust quicker in a changing market. Open to new ideas our fabulous, fearless and focused ladies hit the market place with fresh initiatives and enthusiasm for new product, the trick with women is to deliver change with an extravagant launch party with take home product bag – do this and they will be raving fans.
I am naturally drawn to successful female agents within our organisation and industry. I have always felt they have a genuine interest in seeing other women being successful and gain recognition. Women make great role models and mentors to both men and other women as they take the time to listen and have great passion in working with people to achieve true success. Our corporate team includes many strong, intelligent women who are amazing at their job. Ladies who hold key positions within real estate are the first to admit that females are not always easy to manage, and not all women make great agents but sometimes our biggest strengths can also be our largest weaknesses. Although we think we are superheroes, we cannot be everything to everyone all the time. Women are an incredible asset to any team, like it or not, we have different attributes that will enhance any business. Great women are hard to find, but when you find that rare gem treat her like a diamond.
Tanja Neven – Jones the co director of the Harcourts Frankston Network. A hand’s on director that on a day-to-day basis provides training and support to her 35 staff. Her office is the number 1 office for both departments across the group in Victoria. Tanja is also a mum to 7-year-old Ethan.Tanja will be speaking this year at AREL in Melbourne, for more information visit www.arelevents.com.au.