The Renewed Art of Networking: Why It’s More Important Than Ever
Robert Knakal Oct. 15, 2013, 6 a.m.
There are many characteristics top brokers in our industry possess.
This long list includes passion, an intense work ethic, integrity, specialization (to create a competitive advantage that allows an agent to differentiate themselves from others), a long-term perspective and the ability to manage a limited amount of time well.
Another characteristic of top commercial brokers is the ability to develop strong relationships, and the best way to create these strong relationships is through face-to-face interaction. This personal interaction is also commonly known as networking.
Networking takes many forms, and almost every top broker has mastered a form of networking that works best for them. Meals are an easy way to obtain these face-to-face interactions. It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner, but time spent with market participants at these meals is, generally, uninterrupted and provides a great opportunity to really get to know the person sitting across the table from you.
If your day is too jammed for a meal, a cup of coffee during the day or a drink after work usually provides the same type of uninterrupted interaction.
A more common method of networking is to attend one of the many industry events that are held by a wide array of trade organizations, owners, brokerage companies, law firms and title companies. Trade organizations like the Real Estate Board of New York can provide a significant number of networking opportunities each month. REBNY has been invaluable to me and to many members of Massey Knakal in terms of providing access to major players in our industry. As a young broker starting out, I looked forward to these events the way my five-year-old daughter looks forward to Christmas. And to this day, I still enjoy going out and meeting people who are making news in the New York commercial real estate scene.
So why is networking so important? It is because people work with people they like. All brokers make phone calls and send out mailings, but no amount of calls or pieces of mail have the same impact on a relationship that a face-to-face meeting has on the long-term relationship. With the technology that exists today, it’s so easy to feel that email, text messages or some other form of instant contact is sufficient.
Clearly, technology, calls and mailings help, but personal interaction brings the relationship to a different level. During these meetings, you get to know the other person in a different way. You get to know what they like to do to relax, what activities they participate in and what sports teams they follow. You get to know about their families, where they went to school and how they got into the real estate business. This information provides a basis to find a reason, or a common interest, upon which you can develop a genuine reason to like the other person.
This genuine interest in the other person is a key. It provides a basis for you to like them and, importantly, for them to like you. Earlier in this column, I mentioned that people work with people they like.
To explain further, it is not always the most competent broker that gets the assignment. Let’s say broker “A” is a 10 on the scale of competence with regard to brokerage fundamentals but has no relationship with the client. Broker “B” is a 7 or 8 on the competency scale, but the client really likes broker B. Broker B will get this piece of business nine times out of 10. Clearly, broker B can’t be a 3 or 4 and get business with regularity, but, with a high level of skills, a broker who is well known and liked by the client will win more than his or her share of business.
In a business with thousands of market participants, strong relationships are easy to make if you focus on them. And then, of course, after you win the business, you do everything you can to help the client achieve their objectives, always putting their interests ahead of yours. Do this over and over, and these clients, and your relationships with them, will last for decades.