CEO of City Commercial Real Estate and REAL Professionals Network, a commercial real estate broker and a deliberate networking business.
With a lot fewer water cooler talks, breakfast meetings and lunch events, there are almost no networking events to talk about the commercial real estate market. To add insult to injury, fewer projects are happening to create your own market information. While no one knows exactly what the future holds, when the pandemic ends, the commercial real estate business will accelerate again. It happens every real estate cycle.
There are plenty of opportunities to be successful from the peak to the trough of a cycle. Contrary to public opinion, location is not the most important factor in commercial real estate. Timing, insider information and important relationships are the lifeblood of the commercial real estate industry. The three keys to success are being at the right place at the right time, knowing the right people and having information that is uniquely valuable.
For example, the biggest rainmakers will agree that you make the most money when you buy right, not necessarily for how much or when you sell. What are the top rainmakers doing during the pandemic with fewer deals to talk about? It’s simple — they are setting the table for the next cycle. They are doing the things necessary to be top of mind when their most important relationships come to the table to transact again.
Don’t struggle to determine the right time, the right place and how to find unique insider information and big relationships. The right time is now. The right place is in front of your webcam and on the phone. You must cultivate the relationships and mine the information.
Rainmakers are always looking for ways to make more rain in the commercial real estate and development business. The most successful make the most money by winning business, not executing it. I am not discounting execution skills, but a lot of people can execute well. Over time, most seasoned professionals accumulate many different arrows in their quiver for project execution. When times slow down, like during a pandemic, the best are busy on the phone, staying in touch with their best relationships and mining information for the future.
Not dissimilar to a farmer preparing the soil and nurturing seeds into harvestable crops, relationships require tending. Whether you have known someone for many years or just recently met them, now is the time to improve and expand your relationships. The seeds planted and nurtured now will become harvestable business relationships and business opportunities in the future. Now is exactly the right time for deliberate networking.
Be deliberate in maintaining or developing your top-priority relationships. The pandemic has created low-hanging networking fruit because there is good reason to call colleagues and clients to let them know you care about how they are doing during this difficult time. Start by identifying your best relationships and work your way through to every business friend you have, in every discipline that is part of your business community. You should plan to touch base with clients, prospects, former clients, colleagues and service providers.
Use your contact management software, LinkedIn, Facebook and even your email address book. Rate the quality of the contact by their ability to help you win future business opportunities, determining the soonest and largest opportunities first. Do they have access to important insider information? Are they or do they have access to future big relationships? Deliberately associate with contacts who can help you create a bigger future.
Initially, reach out via email to schedule a video call instead of cold calling. Explain this slower time has given you the opportunity to check in with some of your most important contacts and it made you think of them. If you do not get a reply within one week, call them directly. Call mobile numbers first since many people are still telecommuting.
Letting people know you care must be genuine. If you are not genuine, it will be obvious. Especially during these times, concern for general well-being, health, safety and new business cultivation is natural. Now is the time to ask about their family’s well-being and even if they have been impacted by Covid-19. Business stability is clearly an important topic during this extended, unusual business environment. Offer to make introductions and suggest other ways you might be helpful.
The next-level priority is to contact business friends that you know you can help. In every organized religion there is some form of the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Letting contacts know you care about their well-being and would like to be helpful is very appreciated. Offer ways that you can be helpful.
Finally, reach out to people you know are fond of you who would be pleased to hear from you. Presumably, you like them too, so let them know you care and ask them how you can help. Listen carefully to everyone’s answers. They will lead you to your next acts of nurturing and possibly the important unique insider information that could become the keys to demonstrating your value. You only need to be at the right place at the right time, know the right people and have uniquely valuable information a few times to have a great year or a great career in the commercial real estate and development business.
Now is the perfect time to get back to basics and make some old-fashioned calls. With a captive audience working closer to home, now is the time to reach out and connect with old and new business contacts. More importantly, it is the right time to cultivate relationships for when business takes flight again. Just let people know you care.
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