What One Charity Taught Me About Building a Relationship-Based Business

Leaders worth their salt understand how important it is to build relationships with those you want to lead. I learned this lesson firsthand while on assignment working with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Working side-by-side in some intense scenarios, I came to truly appreciate what it means to lead with the heart.

Now, as I forge ahead building the future of my real estate lead-generation agency, these earlier lessons about leadership have come full circle. During a time when people need connection, helpfulness and human kindness more than ever, we all should take our cues from mission-driven organizations like MSF.

Here are the four big lessons that guide me as I build my relationship-based business:

  1. Develop Ambassadors, Not Employees. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a dynamic movement propelled forward by people from all corners of the globe who share a common mission: To save lives and alleviate suffering by delivering medical care where it is needed the most. To achieve this mission, the medical personnel who work with MSF are not merely employees. They are ambassadors for MSF promoting its ideals and raising awareness about the organization.
    Going beyond simply providing some arbitrary number of leads, we understand that success is about boosting your confidence and feeling supported in your sales process.
    Once real estate professionals experience this relationship-based approach, they become instant ambassadors. Ambassadors don’t sit back and let life happen. They go out and close deals.
  2. Go Where You Are Needed the Most. This simple, but powerful concept drove the founders of MSF. In May 1968, a group of young doctors decided to go where their medical services were needed the most: To the victims of wars and disasters anywhere in the world.
    The needs of buyers and sellers have shifted during the pandemic. However, smart real estate professionals who follow this principle have naturally shifted their focus to meet current needs. There is a good reason why agents are still closing deals within three months. It’s because they trust the system and go where they’re needed the most.
  3. Let Transparency and Accountability Be Your Beacon. For a medical aid organization that relies on the financial support of donors, transparency and accountability are crucial. In the real estate lead-generation business, these values are just as important. In a relationship-based business, fraud should never be an issue. When you put trust at the core of how you lead, your value will shine through to your clients.
  4. Get Creative With the Resources You Provide. Medical professionals working with MSF aren’t afraid to get creative to find solutions out in the field. Providing medical aid without the institutional support of hospitals requires thinking outside the box. This is why so many institutions, like nursing homes, turned to MSF to help train staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Real estate leaders and professionals also need to get creative during this unprecedented time. Here are some ways real estate professionals have shifted their real estate businesses online:
  • They email weekly videos about the state of their local market.
  • They work with photographers to create 3-D virtual home tours.
  • They livestream open houses as virtual events.
  • They send memorable gifts to clients (such as face masks and homemade hand sanitizer).
  • They understand, especially in this climate, standing out is about more than simply following up on leads.
  • They see opportunity where others see disappointment.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is a unique organization with amazing professionals doing much needed work. But the lessons of leadership apply to every business in every industry. When leaders focus on building relationships, there’s no limit to what we can do together.

Bao Le is a philanthropist, tech expert and CEO of Baoss Digital, which is a marketing agency for top real estate professionals.