Finding Added Value in Free Time

In this business, the first few months are the toughest. Adapting to the environment of “here’s a desk, here’s a phone, GO,” isn’t the easiest thing to do as a young broker “pounding the pavement” and putting in the extra time.

It is tough to find a few solid hours to sit down and clear your mind. Although you must learn to live with minimal sleep, real estate networking events are essential to broadening your network and excelling at your career. How else can we ever hope to establish ourselves outside of our teams and mentors?

In today’s market, there is no shortage of real estate networking events to attend, but young brokers have neither the free time nor the available funds to go to them all, and sifting through the steady stream of emails, advertisements, flyers and spam is a full-time job in and of itself. For those starting out in the industry, a great place to start is real estate networking events. In my opinion, they are one of the most valuable tools to help you grow as a broker.

Companies like Bisnow and Property Shark throw several broad networking events that allow you to meet people from all industries across real estate law, construction, finance and investing. You’ll schmooze, swap business cards and get your foot in the door on a local level. However, once you get the gist of the business, you’ll want to move on to larger-scale events like ICSC and MAPIC, because that’s where you’ll find the most value—not to mention the most deal-making potential.

After almost five years in the business, I have attended ICSC events in New York, Las Vegas and Toronto, in addition to MAPIC in Cannes, France. These multiday circuits draw thousands of notable attendees, and it’s there you will find the larger exhibiting landlords, brokerages and international retailers, in addition to a wide array of attendees scouring the floor.

Attending these larger events requires a great deal of preparation. Canvass the attendee lists, do your research and reach out to prospective attendees in advance to set up those all-important meetings—and make sure you have a fresh shirt (or dress), shined shoes and a clean haircut to make a great first impression. The inside of the convention center is a great forum for shaking hands. Even if some of these meetings are ones you could have done on your own turf, it helps to feed off the show’s atmosphere of liveliness, fun and deal-making.

Even when the show floor closes, you’re not off the clock. I have found that the real business and networking gets done outside the convention center. The blackjack tables, lounges, trendy restaurants and nightclub atmospheres are where relationships are solidified. The events are not cheap, ranging from $300 to $1,200 depending on location, membership and time booked, but if you do it right, the events can become very prosperous for your career. The socializing you do at these events is as valuable, if not more so, than the events themselves. Whether you’re meeting a landlord, tenant or broker, it is great to get your name out and let people have a face to go with the caller ID next time you have something to discuss.

These events are essential to grow and reach success in this industry. The more hands I shake and business cards I collect, the more business it has brought to my desk.

Network, expand your real estate horizons and grow as a professional.

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