Leaving the Impression

As I entered the commercial real estate world I quickly realized the importance of networking.  So much of what you know is who you know in the real estate industry.  While I had attended networking events during college and through outside organizations, networking was a skill that I knew I needed to develop to do well in both my personal and professional life.  I thought I would share some of the advice I received from mentors, colleagues, and readings that I found to be helpful in this professional development.Sometimes we think we do not know that many people, but when we put pen to paper we find we have quite a few people in our sphere of influence.  Take a few moments to write down names of family, friends, past associates, and professional individuals with whom you would like to keep in contact.  After you have developed this list, continue to add to it over time as you network and meet more people. Now the challenge is to reach out to a few people from that list each week whether by email, Facebook, or a personal note.  Even if it is just once a year or every few weeks, keeping up that connection is key.  File away what you talked about so you can continue the conversation at a later time.It is a great idea to have a thirty second personal commercial or elevator speech.  While this does not have to be long or involved, people like to know what you do and what sets you apart from everyone else.  Try and be memorable.  Think of yourself as a personal brand.  You may only talk to someone for a few moments, but think of the impression you want to leave in their head when you are gone.  You want them to remember your enduring idea, what differentiates you from others, whom you serve, and the experience you leave behind.When you are out at a networking event it is not a bad idea to take notes.  When you meet new individuals networking, make note of what you talked about so that when you get their business card you can follow up on your conversation at a later time.  Unless you have an impeccable memory, information is forgotten when you are meeting several people at one event.  Something my mentor Michael Grant mentioned is that when you take notes while meeting individuals they perceive that you  value what they have to say.  This makes an impression.  This causes them to open up and pay more attention to what you have to say.  If someone gives you their elevator speech, be sure to ask follow up questions so they know you are engaged.Do not forget to have plenty of business cards with you when you are networking.  While sometimes we think the main purpose of having business cards is to get our information out, Jeffrey Gitomer points out that they are an excellent way of getting the other person’s card. When you give someone your business card they feel inclined to give you theirs.  Now that you have their card, follow up with a note or an email that connects you and the conversation you had.Remember to work a room.  It is too easy to hang out with the group of friends or contacts you already know.  While networking is about maintaining your current relationships, it is also about forming new ones.  Make contact, think on your feet, be memorable, but try not to monopolize anyone’s time.  When you meet new individual, try and think what value you add for them.  Give advice, or perhaps offer to set up a meeting with a contact with someone in their field.Most importantly, try and have a good time.  Smile and people will perceive you as having energy and being more trustworthy.  If networking is out of your comfort zone, try and relax and enjoy the moment.  People can tell if you are uncomfortable, and if networking is just not your thing, try and be someone else for the event.  Become that mentor or that person you admire.  Now enjoy the new friends and contacts you are about to make.Bret Cooper is a Broker Associate for Bradford Companies working in the Northeast Corridor specializing in industrial leasing and brokerage. Corporate Office, 9400 NCX, Suite 500, Dallas, TX 75231, Ph: 972.776.7035
August 15, 2014

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