Turn Your Network Into Net Worth!

by | 07 September 2021

#AskColliers: Talent Edition

It’s more than a cliche found in management books. Your net worth really is tied to your networking strategies. Networking is the number one way to get to know relevant people in commercial real estate, strike a rapport and establish a connection with a potential client. Of course, networking could also lead to finding life-long connections. There truly are a lot of benefits! 

You might think Commercial Real Estate (CRE) is solely about properties. But the truth is, it’s mostly about people. No other career requires making those personal connections quite like CRE. It may not be your favorite activity, but with a little knowledge and preparation, you can be a top pro at networking. This post offers two key pieces of networking know-how: 1) Simplifying the daunting process of networking into simpler nuggets, and 2) introduction and insights about commercial real estate associations and groups to expand your network in the industry. 

It all starts with the old game of Six Degrees of Separation that has only one rule: You’re just six handshakes away from everyone else on the planet. This popular idea dating back to 1929 says that you, me, and Trudeau (or anyone for that matter) are linked to each other by no more than six people. You have the opportunity to connect to anyone, from a friend … to a friend of a friend of a friend. No one is inaccessible. And this is especially true in virtual networking. 

Tips for Success 

You can do it too. Whether it’s a live event, or a web event, turning your network into net worth requires smart work. Here are four fortune-building tips from Colliers: 

  1. Do your homework and look up the speakers, topics, and sponsors. Knowledge will help you connect better. You can become an insider. 
  1. Make an ABC list: People you want to Acknowledge, Build relationships with and Connect for the first time. Prioritize wisely.  
  1. Your questions show your perceptive nature and curious mindset. A smart question is a great way to become memorable. Make a list before you go.  
  1. If it’s a webinar, clear away tech barriers. Invest in a good headset, use an interesting backdrop (easily create your own at canva.com), and yes, avoid muting yourself! 

Remember, also, to present your authentic self within professional parameters. Follow this advice whether you’re attending in person or online. Listen openly, stay curious, use your ABC list as guidelines and look for spots to add value: Can you help with a reference, give a contact, make a relevant call? Even though you are the seeker at the event, it’s important to also be a giver. This keeps your balance-of-power dynamic. 

It’s Not Over When It’s Over 

A lot happens in networking events, but the real action takes place after. And conversion can depend on how quickly you turn around.  

Write customized, individual notes to your connections. Remember to reference something unique and interesting — preferably from your discussion at the event. Invite them for a quick call or coffee and request to connect with them on LinkedIn. Once added, comment on their posts and don’t be shy about striking up a virtual conversation. 

Now you know some simple ways to prime yourself for awesome networking, before, during and after the event. The next step is finding an event. Happily, you should be able to locate some locally to get started.  

Commercial Real Estate Networking 

Historically, industry events have been categorized as professional or social events. Which is the better investment? It depends! In pandemic times, more people may be opting out of onsite social events in order to meet n’ greet online. On the other hand, outdoor events could be just the ticket to fun and financial success. In any case, the most important factor in determining the value of an event is the crowd it attracts. If you have a list of speakers, and the profile of participants and sponsors, you can assess the value it holds for you. There’s an event for just about everyone, and you can pick where you would be comfortable — from virtual CRE conference to a golf course. Networking events come in all shapes and sizes and you could find your next big break at any one of them. 

Whether an event is onsite or virtual, the real alchemist at these events is YOU. What you do — how you approach people and follow up — will determine if you strike gold and turn that pool of people into your net worth. 

For an easy way to start, you’ll find plenty of CRE networking events are only a Google search away. Meetup.com offers a page that’s chock full of options. You can narrow down your choices by the type of commercial real estate or even by location 

For now, you may prefer to rely on virtual events and connections. That’s okay. But, be sure to bookmark this post, so you can refer to it for tips when you’re ready to look up onsite events.  

But how do you maximize your efforts while meeting CRE professionals at any single event? Commercial real estate networking groups are here to help. 

Commercial Real Estate Groups, Associations & Events 

Through their busy event calendars, Commercial Real Estate Networking groups will put your networking efforts on the fast-track. Most Commercial Real Estate professionals belong to a professional group like one of these. Belonging to CRE group takes networking to the next level by offering in-person or virtual events. It not only amplifies your credibility with clients, but it also gives you a platform to access people, resources and educational opportunities that can work to enhance your career. Every group you find is worth exploring, virtually, at least. 

Colliers Senior Managing Director, Industrial, Peter Garrigan agrees. Along with his leadership role at Colliers, he’s also an active member of SIOR, a major industrial association.  “Being a part of SIOR has made it easier to forge new relationships with peers and clients within my local market, as well as strengthen existing relationships,” he says. “And being part of an organization that is highly recognized in my industry gives me instant credibility.”  

Garrigan, who hails from the Greater Toronto area, says that attending events, speaking on panels, and being involved in committees within SIOR has created another easy touch point of exposure for him. And networking opportunities are only part of the benefits he enjoys. “This sends a message to my clients that I am undoubtably engaged in this business, have a mindset of collaboration, and am passionate about growing my knowledge and relationships to the next level.”    

Here are some major industry organizations to start your exploration: 

BOMA – Building Owners and Managers Association (International) 

A leading trade association for commercial real estate professionals for more than 100 years, this federation of U.S. local associations and global affiliates represents owners, managers, service providers and other commercial property professionals. Check out this organization’s many events. 

CCIM — Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute 

Educating real estate specialists across continents and industry categories for more than 50 years, this organization has more than 8,000 members from numerous professions related to commercial real estate. Participants from many occupations are represented at every event, including asset managers, appraisers, corporate real estate executives, developers, attorneys, institutional investors, bankers, property managers and more. Check out this organization’s many events 

SIOR  Society of Industrial and Office Realtors 

The leading global professional office and industrial real estate association with more than 3,460 members in 42 countries. SIOR represents today’s most knowledgeable, experienced, and successful commercial real estate brokerage specialists. Check out this organization’s events 

ICSC  International Council of Shopping Centers 

ICSC produces experiences that create connections and catalyze deals; aggressively advocates to shape public policy; develops high impact marketing and public relations that influence opinions; provides an enduring platform for professional success; and creates forward thinking content with actionable insights — all of which drive industry innovation and growth. Check out their events here. 

CREW — Commercial Real Estate Women 

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) was founded in 1989 to promote the success of women in the industry. Their mission reads: CREW Network exists to transform the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. If you’re a woman (or an ally) seeking to network in this industry, what are you waiting for? This organization actually has the word “network” in their name! Events regularly help participants build leadership and communication skills along with providing specific training in industry must-knows. Check out their events here. 

Practice these tips with knowledge and confidence to help build out your network’s net worth! Good luck and have fun! 

If you’re interested in a career in commercial real estate services, why not connect with us to network and learn more? See what you could BE at Colliers here. 

About the Author:

Hira Mubasher currently leads the Talent Scouting team in Canada across Executive, Brokerage and Campus verticals. Hira joined Colliers in 2017 as the Head of Executive Talent on the Canada Scouting Team with a mandate to strategically network and partner with exceptional executive talent for current and future opportunities. As a business partner, she also drives senior stakeholder relationships across all business lines in Canada.