Holy cow. So many answers to this question! I just completed my first year in real estate. I had 18 "sides" and made the RE/MAX 100% club. Here are some of my observations and recommendations (and I'll preface all of this by saying that I came to real estate after retiring from about 30 years in hard-core corporate marketing, so I had strong working knowledge of most marketing tools),:
(1) I did NOT have a huge well of friends/family to draw upon (all my business contacts were national, not local) when I started, so I had to get creative to turn up business.
(2) The amount of FREE marketing training/tools/guidance available to realtors is overwhelming, BUT...you must learn what type of system works best for you. Analytical peeps might prefer going hard for social media/email campaigns where your efforts are rewarded by measurable interaction. Outgoing folks may love door-knocking. Whatever your choice, stop sending paper things through the mail. It's going right into the recycle bin. Save a tree, dude,
(3) Get yourself a website. No, not the coma-inducing template that's provided free by your parent brokerage. Get a real URL. Fill it with real content. Blog about stuff (blogging is just code for "give me something that I can use as a link on my Facebook page that will direct people back to my website"). You don't have to write your own stuff - there are tons of free articles out there, but it's fun if you do. It gives you the opportunity to focus on topics that are specific to your market. AND..."OMG!!! WEBSITES ARE EXPENSIVE!". Nah. I found a site designer that was willing to do a quick modification of a Word Press side for $300. We all spout the statistics: 92% of all customers start their home research online. Guess what? Home research involves agents, too. Give people a portal to check you out, learn who you are as a human. It's really, really important and I'm constantly shocked at the large number of agents that don't do this.
(4) Become a slave to other agents in your brokerage. Yes, yes, "I'm available to sit your open house), of course. Sign up for all the floor duty. But also try "I'm available to assist your clients if you're unavailable." Become the substitute Realtor when they go on vacation. Show as many houses as you can. No, you're not going to pick up those people as clients because they belong to someone else. BUT...you're learning how to confront different lock boxes, how to point out home features without being overbearing, how to do all the important things that will make you appear a more polished and smooth agent when you DO get a customer. Your co-agents will appreciate the help. Then ask them if they have any tough buyers that they'd like to hand off for a (larger than normal) referral fee. Some buyers (particularly super-low budget buyers) are hard to match with a property. They take tons of time, tons of driving, all for a low payoff. Some agents might be happy to hand you their "hot potato". You have the time to devote to these customers. Should you get one of these referrals, be diligent about keeping the original agent informed about everything you do. A quick email works ("I showed Susie three condos today, but she has decided that she needs an attached garage, so we are changing our search parameters"). Continue this right up to the close. The referring agent will appreciate this, and gain confidence in your level of professionalism. This will lead to more referrals...Realtors like to chit chat. :)
(5) Use your buyers to leverage listings. If you don't have a buyer of your own, go back to your co-agents. "Do you have a buyer that's interested in a particular neighborhood? I can help find a property." Then put your knocking shoes on. Here's the one paper thing you're allowed to print: A "cold knock card". I use an over-sized postcard with a fun picture on the front (my logo) and my contact info on the back. And, a bit of copy that says "There are buyers interested in your neighborhood - have you thought about selling or know someone who is?" When you cold knock to help find a home for a specific buyer, you're NOT soliciting. You will be shocked (shocked, I tell you) at the amount of confidence it gives you to actually ring that doorbell. If someone answers the door with cranky eyes, I quickly say "I'm not selling...I'm buying!" I have never yet been treated poorly by anyone, and I have picked up multiple listings. People say "Wow! You're willing to go to this much work for your buyer? You must be a dedicated agent". I'm serious. THEY SAY THIS A LOT. And of course, they're right. Even if they're not interested in selling, it's great to have some broad statistics on that neighborhood you can share (home sale prices, etc.). Sometimes, when you give them some time to chew on it, they may realize they ARE interested in selling. So leave that nice card behind so they can call you.
Hope this helps