Written by Scott Gordon, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

A loan originator’s career is a popularity contest, and it always has been. Being popular requires becoming known and being well liked. People have to discover who you are and what you can do for them, and then they must like you. There are many aspects to being liked, including your knowledge, quality of service, the value you bring, availability, manners, looks and attitude. This has always been true.

What has changed is how you get known, and how people come to like and respect you. Nowadays, you need to be found—and liked—online.

In the past it was enough to get out and “press the flesh” or deliver donuts. But in our ultra-busy life, most people don’t have time to stand and talk, and fatty donuts turn people off. We have entered the digital age, which means working, and even living, on our smartphones and iPads. So if you aren’t being found and becoming known through the Web, you are behind the times.

Reverse mortgage folks may think their clients are not online, but they are wrong. A 2010 study by the Pew Research Group showed computer usage by seniors is at an all-time high. Grandma is on Facebook, so watch what you post!

Successful loan officers have always built networks of clients. That remains true today, only now many of them build that network and maintain it through social media, or Web-based platforms for social interaction. The most common forms of social media are Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs and Twitter.

While some find this new form of interaction scary, there is great news for loan originators. It is easy to get started small, and then add a little more at a time. Before long, you can build an amazing online presence. In my new book, Social Media for Loan Officers, I outline the steps you can take to help build your own social media empire. You need to start building credibility now, because Google awards more visibility to pages that have been around longer.

Step one Set up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is your online resume. Even if you meet someone in person, don’t be surprised if they return home and look you up on LinkedIn. If you aren’t there, or have no picture or a lame profile, borrowers will question your experience.

Step two Create a blog. After joining LinkedIn, you should consider creating your own mortgage blog, not because you are an aspiring author, but because the blog will make your name searchable on Google, and that is how borrowers will find you. Google needs to see your blog, with local contact information, so your name can appear in search results.

Step three Establish a professional Facebook page. Facebook is easy to set up, but it has to be professional. You may want to consider creating two Facebook accounts, one for clients and establishing professional relationships, and the other for family and friends.

This may sound like a lot, but you can eat an elephant one bite at a time. Do a little each day or each week and you will get there. Good luck in the digital popularity contest!

View a video on my blog about how to create a successful LinkedIn profile. Visit openmortgageceo.com.