At this year's Women in Real Estate (WIRE) conference, inspiring keynote speakers generated lively conversation, laughter and an eagerness to put ideas into practice.
Darling Harbour, Sydney was the backdrop for the fourth annual WIRE conference. The sold out event held at Doltone House gave female real estate professionals the opportunity to learn the secrets of some of Australia’s most successful business women.
The first speaker, Naomi Simson – founder of RedBalloon, described how she took a hobby business and turned it into a multi-million dollar gifting website.
“The goal was, and still is, to change gifting in Australia forever,” she said.
Naomi credited her success to strong employee engagement. “The customer experience is all about the employee experience.”
Open dialogue, for example, is fundamental to increasing employee engagement, she explained. At RedBalloon, Naomi regularly communicates with her staff about the state of the business and her vision for the future.
“We are completely transparent … communicating with your employees is so important,” she said.
Naomi then gave delegates advice on how to engage their own employees. “Ensure everyone is aligned to what is the most critical part of the business, show appreciation on a regular basis and make employees feel proud of what they do,” she said.
Following a brief morning tea break, author Candy Tymson took the stage to discuss the male-female dynamic and how to become ‘guy-lingual’ – a term she coined to describe a method of communicating with men.
She gave the example of the male nod. “The meaning of the nod will change your life … it changed mine,” she said. “We talk too much quite frankly. When a man nods, stop selling – men only nod when they agree with what you’ve just said.”
The most successful women in business treat men as their peers, according to Candy. “Women are too often perceived by themselves and by men to have less power and credibility … and it’s that perception that makes all the difference.”
She went on to list common traps that women fall into that diminish their credibility. These include offering ideas in the form of a question.
“This makes you sound like you’re unsure of yourself – you should present ideas with confidence,” she said. “Women are so good at real estate because we’re good at relationships, but we let ourselves down because the confidence isn’t there to go that step further.”
Candy’s advice sparked lively discussion over lunch. Then Kristen Marsh, founder of Billicorp, gave delegates an insight into her all-female commercial agency. “I never intended to only have women working for me – it just turned out that way,” she explained.
Kristen believes that Billicorp’s true point of difference, however, is the open communication, mutual encouragement and research culture.
“Regardless of whether you’re a man or woman, first impressions count – you have to know your stuff,” she said.
The next speaker was energetic stylist and entrepreneur Elena Reed, who gave a fascinating talk on the psychology of dressing. She explained how fashion influences your presence, confidence and business success.
“If you dress shoe to shoulder in the same colour you will have more presence when you walk into a room than if you break up your outfit with colour,” she said.
“Darker colours, like navy and brown, are more authoritative … lighter colours are more approachable.”
Still buzzing from Elena’s infectious enthusiasm, delegates heard from REINSW President Wayne Stewart who invited former REINSW President Christine Castle to say a few words.
Christine conceived of WIRE four years ago and said she is pleased to see the event has grown in popularity.
“Women are a big voice in this industry and it makes me proud to see you all here,” she said. “There is so much noise in this room – everyone’s talking and catching up with old friends – we’ve got something really great here.”
Top tips for self promotion
Candy Tymson, author of Gender Games, offered WIRE attendees the following advice to succeed in business.
- Copy others in on your ideas or significant achievements
- Let people know if you prevented a disaster
- Circulate items of interest
- Become more active in your community
- Join groups and networks
- Develop your skills
- Speak up
- Write articles and speak at workshops
- Watch your words