Because relationships are so important in the commercial real estate industry, networking is a crucial piece of building your commercial real estate career. Your network will provide advice, support and, if you’ve done it right, prospects that will eventually land you deals.
Building your network takes work. It can sometimes take years to make the right contacts and build the right relationships and even when you do, you should never stop networking. If you’re just starting out in commercial real estate, here are some tips to help you in your networking endeavors.
Don’t think about yourself
When walking into a networking event, don’t go in wondering, “How will this help me?” Go in asking, “How can I help others?” A helpful mindset will come across in your words and your actions and will attract others to you. If you’re worried about yourself, you’ll be listening to the bits of conversations that will benefit you. If you’re focused on helping others, everything you hear will somehow be beneficial, and no matter what happens, you will leave the event successful.
Have a goal
Take the goal of helping someone and narrow it down. Decide to give at least five people your card or set up two meetings before you leave. Make it a goal to talk to at least three people in a particular industry and find out what their current challenges are. Plan what you want to talk about and how to express ways in which you can be helpful to others in the future.
Anything you said you were going to do during conversations, do it. Attendees of networking events probably frequently hear, “Ok, I’ll be in touch,” and then never hear anything back. Stand out by actually following up. Avoid empty promises by only promising things you can deliver. “Yes, I will send that article about how our two industries can work together next week.” When you send the article, suggest a face-to-face meeting to continue building the relationship.
Don’t wait too long
Follow up on conversations as soon as possible after having them, especially if you’ve offered a specific time frame. If you wait too long, your meeting won’t be as fresh, and the things you talked about won’t be as clear. Stay top of mind by reaching out within 48 hours. If possible, schedule something before you leave the event, especially if you’ve recognized that they have a need you could fill.
Don’t sell when networking
Remember, at networking events, you are there to help others. Any sales conversations should be saved for another meeting. Starting the sales conversation too soon after an introduction can make you seem pushy and like you are pursuing your own agenda.
Do it all the time
You need to be networking all the time, and not just at networking events. Treat every conversation throughout your day as a possible connection, not by selling to them but by finding out their needs and communicating how you could help. Whether you’re out to eat, walking your dog, or golfing, there’s always a chance to introduce yourself to someone and learn about them.
Whether it’s at an event or going about your everyday tasks, applying these tips to networking situations can help you begin to build the network that will shape your commercial real estate career.