Robert Knakal Jan. 14, 2015, 3:51 p.m.
Over the years of brokering investment sale transactions in New York City and running the recently sold Massey Knakal Realty Services, I have observed qualities that top brokers in our industry share. They have a strong passion for the business, work hard (and smart), think positively, effectively manage their time, set goals and display tremendous integrity. Another characteristic of top performing agents is their focus on networking.
While our buildings are made of bricks, mortar, glass and steel, our industry is a people business, and people generally work with people they know and like. The blocking and tackling of the brokerage business is sending out mailings and making phone calls. But there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. These meetings are the key to networking, and relationships formed in-person are the most meaningful.
Setting up a meal, coffee or a cocktail with someone is a great way to strengthen your bond with folks you already know. To expand your network, check out conferences, seminars and events sponsored by one of New York’s trade organizations. It’s an effective way to meet people who could become customers, clients or a source of business down the line.
Of all fantastic trade groups in our market, perhaps the best is the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). It’s had a profound impact on the success that Massey Knakal experienced during the 26 years it was in business, and on my own brokerage career.
As a young broker back in the mid-1980s, I made it a goal to become a member of the sales broker’s committee. I was excited to sit at lunch each month with the legends in our business. Guys like Louis Smadbeck, who I considered the Babe Ruth of our industry. Each month I was afforded the opportunity to meet countless real estate giants. I also got to interact with other young brokers. Many of the friendships I formed have since lasted for more than 30 years.
Over the years I became more and more involved in REBNY, and I’ve served (and continue to serve) on several committees, gaining invaluable insight into our market along the way. My career would be a shadow of itself without the hundreds of relationships fostered at REBNY events.
Not only does REBNY provide a premier place for networking, it also fights tirelessly for our industry’s interests. Educating its members and, just as importantly, the city’s policymakers are among the things REBNY does best.
Since 1986, REBNY has been fortunate to have Steve Spinola at the helm. Steve, who’ll be stepping down later this year, has been an authoritative public voice, lobbyist and conscience of the industry.
Tonight, REBNY will be celebrating its 119th annual banquet, where Steve will receive the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award. I hope to see you there, and if you bump into Steve, remember to thank him for everything he’s done for us during his nearly 30 years as REBNY’s president.
Mr. Knakal is the chairman of New York Investment Sales for Cushman & Wakefield and has brokered the sale of approximately 1,700 properties in his career having a market value in excess of $12.5 billion.