If you really want to blow their minds, explain the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent—and why it matters.

Most people have no idea what REALTORS® do. Sure, they get the basics—we help them buy and sell homes, manage properties, broker commercial transactions and land deals—but we’ve all run into people who think we do little more than pound a sign into the ground and collect a commission check.

You and I know that nothing could be further from the truth. But if the public doesn’t fully appreciate all our hard work and professionalism, it’s up to us to help them understand.

How? You may find that many people are surprised if you describe how much it takes to earn and keep a real estate license in Texas. If you really want to blow their minds, explain the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent—and why it matters. Proudly mention the Code of Ethics. Tell them about the ways REALTORS® look out for their interests—from fighting property tax increases to battling burdensome local ordinances to being champions for homeowner rights in HOAs, and many more.

You can explain the value of your professional designations. Tell contacts how we cooperate with our business competitors through MLSs to ensure that buyers get access to the most properties for sale and sellers can market their homes to the widest pool of buyers. Give prospects and clients a list of everything you do for them. For many of us, that list could stretch onto multiple pages, and, like I said, most people have no idea.

Sometimes, we unintentionally send the wrong message about our value as professionals. A Facebook post announcing that we sold a home in one day says nothing about the months of work we put in to get that above-list-price offer so quickly. Also missing is the extensive analysis and counseling to help the seller sift through dozens of offers. And how, if we don’t describe it, would the public know all the steps from contract to closing—the details and deadlines and the behind-the-scenes work to save a transaction hanging by a thread?

We should each have a clear, concise “elevator speech” that not only defines our value as a professional but also quickly promotes all we do for our customers, clients, and private property owners. If you don’t, please work on one. If you do, please share it with your fellow REALTORS® and your community. We must stand united to protect our industry and livelihood; it’s time the public knows how hard we work on their behalf.

I have always referred to real estate as a profession—not an industry or a job— which is why I choose every day to be a REALTOR®, not just an agent. Our profession dictates we must be professional, and it’s up to every REALTOR® to uphold those standards. To borrow from our national advertising campaign, That’s Who We R.