robotBy Phil Dorner

If you’ve been in the real estate business for more than 20 years, then the world in which you’re operating today must look very different from the one in which you started. Before iPads and apps, there were typewriters and fax machines. While it seems like so much of our business has changed, one thing has remained constant – our ability to connect with people.

Real estate is an interpersonal business. Connecting with our clients is arguably what Realtors do best. And while some would say that modern day tools and technology take away the human element in business, I say they enhance it.

I recently attended Emerge – Moving You Forward with the Tools for Tomorrow, a six-stop travelling conference offered by the Ontario Real Estate Association. It featured an impressive list of speakers on topics aimed at helping brokers and salespeople stay on the cutting edge of technology in real estate. We heard about it all: Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, Dropbox, Evaluator, iMovie. If it was proven to improve business, it was covered at this seminar. I walked away at the end of the day confident that, despite some of the challenges, technology would not impede on my business relationships – it would make them better.

Any notion that I might be too old to embrace some of today’s modern tools was quickly quashed after a presentation by third-generation Realtor John-Ross Parks. Kicking off his speech, Parks gave a nod to his “nana”, his inspiration and a 71-year-old Realtor who’s been in the business for 35 years and hasn’t wasted any time getting to know her iPad. “If this woman has been able to mould her business in this way, you are too,” said Parks.

With every presentation thereafter, I believed it more and more. “I build relationships through Facebook,” said Amie Ferris of Erie’s Edge Real Estate. “I don’t just tell people what I’m doing, I engage with my followers by posting content that ignites conversation.” It all comes back to connecting with your clients, as her husband and fellow Realtor Ray Ferris echoed in his presentation: “Most people want to work with someone they know.”

Okay, so if Facebook is the only thing I need to master, then I’m in good shape. But what about video and website creation? Where does someone with no experience in these areas begin? “Somewhere, anywhere,” encouraged Michael Krisa, known as That Interview Guy. “I want to dispel the myth that video is hard,” said Krisa. “If you can finger paint, you can edit video on the iPad. Just do that one video; it’ll change your business.”

Surely my amateur videos won’t add much value to my marketing strategies, I thought. To that Krisa says, “Think sloppy success versus imperfect inaction – just do it!”

After nearly 35 years in the real estate business, Richard Silver “just did it” about a year ago when he decided to go paperless. “For starters, invest in a scanner,” said Silver. “Every document you create will be immediately accessible by everyone on your team. Sure, there may be a learning curve you’ll run into with your clients, or your lawyer and office staff, but it’ll pay off.”

I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t want to improve their business if given the opportunity. With today’s tools and technologies, the opportunities for Realtors abound. All we have to do is get in front of our hurdles – ourselves – and we’ll be that much further ahead.

Not one speaker suggested relying solely on technology to do the work for you. Communication, building trust, getting to know your clients – these were the phrases of the day. In speaking about the importance of prospecting, Realtor Sally Cook “found that by doing [that] on a daily basis, we could build relationships with people, one sentence at a time.”

Phil-DornerNot even the savviest robot could do that.

Emerge events have been held across Ontario, with an upcoming session on Dec. 10 in Kitchener-Waterloo. For more details on upcoming Emerge events, topics and speakers, or to register online, visit or send an email to [email protected].

Ontario Real Estate Association president Phil Dorner has been active in the real estate profession for 32 years. He is a past president of the Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board and has served on OREA’s board of directors since 2009.



  1. Great article and I can’t help but comment on the excellent picture of Phil. It portray trust, gentleness and caring. What more could you ask for.

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