Want to get ahead and grow your career as a real estate agent? You’ll probably hear a lot of advice as you get started, but there are certain core principles that will help you build a solid foundation. Industry experts and veteran brokers agree that these are the most important essentials for new real estate agents to master.

1. Never Stop Cultivating Relationships

Your career as a real estate agent will be based on referrals, and that means building a rich and rewarding network. It’s not about marketing—it’s about letting people know who you are and what you can do for them, not to mention staying top-of-mind with potential clients and referrers by reaching out, remembering details about their lives, and building trust based on genuine interest.

2. Follow Up as Quickly as Possible

Want to know a quick and easy way to tank your new real estate career? Slack off on returning emails, phone calls, and texts. When someone reaches out to you, whether it’s a colleague, a buyer, a seller, or just a potential inquiry, always respond promptly. Not only is it polite, but it shows that you are keen, competent, and always on the ball—which is exactly what people look for in a real estate agent.

3. Grow Your Brand

Of all the essentials for new real estate agents to master, this might be the most important. Why? Because your brand is perhaps the most important tool in your toolbox, which is why you should start growing it early. Build a brand independent of your brokerage so that when you move on—and you probably will someday—your brand travels with you. Develop a logo, tagline, email address, phone number, and website that all share the same personal branding.

4. Don’t Get Too Competitive with Other Agents

When you’re just starting out, you may see real estate as a zero-sum game where every house another agent sells is one that you didn’t. That’s not a productive attitude, however. Instead, see other agents as allies, colleagues, and mentors. Network with other real estate agents, be open to advice, and always be professional. And remember that someday you’ll be the more experienced agent with an opportunity to help someone else!

5. Talk Less, Listen More

It’s human nature to enjoy talking about ourselves, but as a new real estate agent, you need to listen twice as much as you talk. That’s especially true with clients, who need to feel heard and understood during their journey of buying or selling property. If you need help developing this skill, there are resources out there for active listening practice.

6. Be Generous with Your Time and Talents

It can be frustrating for a new real estate agent to feel as though you’re throwing away your energy without getting anything in return. As you build relationships, you may find that you’re putting a lot of effort into helping others without seeing material reward, but be patient. When the time comes, people will remember your reputation and eagerly choose you as their real estate agent!