#AskColliers: Talent Edition
If we learned anything during the global pandemic, it’s that no career path is guaranteed. Many of us also discovered our surprising flair for remote work. We balanced daily household tasks and dodged family distractions through every virtual meeting. We even adjusted to the end of the regular 9 to 5 workday. And that’s when some of us realized that working remotely brings an empowering sense of freedom. You could control your schedule and your availability for your family. The question that came up was how to make it last. My answer: Work for yourself! Gain financial freedom and be your own boss by becoming a commercial real estate (CRE) professional.
Where to Begin
Commercial real estate requires people skills and a high level of technical business knowledge. The most successful commercial agents have at least an undergraduate education and many have a graduate degree in business, enabling them to work with corporations, tenants, institutional buyers and sellers, domestic and foreign business entities and a host of sophisticated investment and business clientele.
With a diploma in hand, you can launch a career in commercial real estate by starting with your real estate license. You’ll need to adhere to the license requirements found on your state’s Department of Real Estate website. In California, for example, you must be 18 years old and complete 135 hours of pre-licensing education. Be sure to sign up for one of the top online accredited real estate schools: Real Estate Express, McKissock Learning, The CE Shop, Kaplan and 360Training. Once you complete the coursework required, take the Real Estate Licensing Exam specific to the state your state. In California, you must earn a passing score of 70% or higher, though these requirements and guidelines vary by state. After that, you’ll likely be required to submit your fingerprints for a criminal background check.
You’re a CRE Professional!
Once you have obtained your Commercial Real Estate License, it’s important to find a brokerage firm that works exclusively in commercial real estate. Many residential firms have a small arm of CRE brokers but being aligned with a firm that solely operates in the CRE space will lead to repeat customers and higher credibility for you as a new broker. In addition to support, many of the top CRE firms have salaried year-long training programs for new associates.
For example, in 2018, Colliers launched the Broker Development Program, which focuses on the foundational knowledge, skills and behaviors required to be successful in this industry. This program is designed with brokers in mind, providing the ultimate training you need to succeed. It blends formal learning with on-the-job experience supported by coaching and mentorship.
When starting your career, you should:
- Identify a mentor, then establish an open & trusting relationship with them.
- Understand your strengths and opportunities for growth.
- Set goals for yourself with a clear plan to achieve them.
- Develop a business plan.
- Be accountable for your own success.
Accelerate Your Success
Once you identify the right CRE firm that aligns with your values and selling style, it’s important to specialize and develop a deep understanding of your focused real estate asset class. Continuing Most commercial agents specialize in specific property types such as industrial, office, retail, hotels, investment sales, health care, tech or multi-family. education is available through a variety of trade associations, such as CCIM, CoreNet and ICSC.
To make your clients feel valued and achieve your ambitions, you’ll need these qualities:
- Be a self-starter. The more you compete with yourself the better you’ll perform.
- Identify your clients’ goals and be solution-focused.
- Be resilient. When cold-calling to build your book of business, don’t take rejection personally and keep hitting the phones!
- Exude confidence … even if you’re filled with insecurity.
- Show Integrity. Protect, cultivate and grow your honest reputation.
- Align with like-minded brokers who have a history of success. Joining a team is a great way to maintain your accountability.
Say Hello to Your Future
It’s not necessary to be a natural-born salesperson to build success in sales. In your first couple years, take every opportunity to develop salesperson qualities, such as being persistent, competitive, proactive and ambitious. It’s crucial to be sociable—able to strike up conversations with strangers—and you must be undaunted while making cold calls.
Commercial real estate is a relationship-based career. Early in your career, set up informational interviews and learn who the top producers are in your market. Be intentional with networking: join a professional organization and attend relevant conferences; ask probing questions, listen to the answers, and follow up with another good question. Have a pen and paper when you meet with someone in an office and take notes. If you’re at a social function, ask for a business card. Make notes to yourself after you’re done talking and send that new contact a follow up e-mail.
At Colliers, we have a culture of collaboration, support and information sharing. Our brokers advocate for our company and understand the value proposition of Colliers. While you are learning, networking building your book of business in Colliers’ Broker Development program, you will be directly mentored by best-in-class commercial real estate experts and non-competing Executive Managing Directors.
Finally, operate your business with enthusiasm, honesty and humility; being part of one of the top brokerage firms in the world is a privilege. Those you meet will expect more from you and your team, which is fine. You’ll be ready, because you chose to own the blue and BE Colliers.