The Internet is integral to modern life. You’re probably reading this online, so I don’t have to tell you that. But it’s also clear that online social experiences are an essential part of daily life: In 2013, 85 percent of adults in the United States used the Web, and as of Jan. 2014, 74 percent of those adults used social networking sites. It makes sense, after all. We’re all online, anyway. Shouldn’t we be interacting?

Of course we should. And while social media is still in its infancy, it’s already demonstrated the ability to facilitate human interaction on a scale never seen before. That’s why it’s always a shock to me that so many commercial real estate professionals aren’t engaged with social media.

As new social networking sites proliferate across the Web, we have the opportunity to harness this medium into a tool that works for professionals. Here are five ways social media can make you better at the commercial real estate business:

Social media makes you smarter.

Experts agree that the Internet enhances intelligence. Want to know what you’ve learned today? Look through your browser history.

In an age where every question is answered with a search on Google or Wikipedia, it pays to be better informed. If you use Twitter and LinkedIn to monitor conversations about commercial real estate, you’ll always have access to the crème de la crème of breaking news, expert opinions and industry trends. And if you have questions, ask your network. Crowdsourcing frequently proves many brains are better than one.

Social media can boost your credibility.

Have you been learning anything from your customers and colleagues? Prove it.

By sharing and commenting upon social media posts that are relevant to your business, you can demonstrate your own knowledge and be useful to others. Do it consistently and you might even gain a following of your own. To see an example of a commercial real estate pro who uses social media very, very well, look no further than Colliers International’s Coy Davidson.

Of course, boosting your own image isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the ultimate goal of social media interaction. Which leads us to my next point …

Social media allows people to get to know you.

Everyone wants to trust the people with whom they do business. And if you think that your clients and colleagues haven’t entered your name into a search engine, well … Hopefully you won’t be too shocked to learn that your name and online identity are Googled every now and then. And that is OK! It doesn’t hurt a bit.

Your social media presence is a chance to show off not only your knowledge but also your personality and accomplishments. People can learn a lot about you by visiting your LinkedIn profile and reading a few Facebook updates. Every post on social media is a thought frozen in time. Just don’t forget that you’re broadcasting those thoughts to an audience.

Social media is a great way to learn about new people.

Online social media is social networking on a gargantuan, global scale. Of course you’re going to run across someone whose commercial real estate acumen is a boon to you. And when you do, you’ll be able watch them interact with others, see the information they share and the commentary they provide. If you’re new to the game, watch for a while before you dive in.

Social media is also a great way to check out potential clients and understand their needs, which brings us to our final item …

Social media is the next level of customer service.

When you think about it, most of the benefits listed above are already traits of successful business people. Research, reputation, due diligence and networking are all common elements of “real-life” interaction. Social media simply scales these traits upward to fit the massive platform of the World Wide Web.

You know what’s (unfortunately) not so common in real-life interaction? Outstanding customer service. Luckily for you, social media makes it easy to provide personalized customer service. Social media interaction makes you more informed, empowers you to trade all types of information with ease and allows you to stay in touch with clients long after any deal is done.

Want to make your customer service memorable? Maybe try a 21st century solution to the age-old problem.

Tony White has spent decades exploring discourse within online communities, and he writes about social media and digital innovations in real estate. Send him tips or questions at or via Twitter