Advice to Young Brokers: The Power of Networking

We live in a time with unmatched information.  You can Google just about anything.  Even things that are supposed to be somewhat ambiguous like the finale of Mad Men are quickly explained by critics and even the writers.

But there are some things you just can’t Google.

In corporate real estate, market information is a commodity.  We trade comps for deals that have been completed, discuss tenants in the market with colleagues and competitors, and throw around market statistics like we discussed batting averages and ERA when we were kids.

However, I have long argued that unless you understand what the statistics mean, they are meaningless. If you can’t explain what they mean and why they’ve changed, you’re just repeating information and not really providing much value.

Beyond that, if you can find out why a tenant chose one building over another, or why a certain landlord paid a little more for a building, then you have the gold.

Lately, I’ve gotten into the habit of not attending industry functions. Frankly, it’s a bad habit. The only way to get the really good information is to get out, meet people, ask questions and share information.  Luckily, after 16 years in the business, I have some great relationships and can pick up the phone and call people.  I also have information to share, which, as I mentioned earlier, is a commodity.

It’s in those settings where you can casually ask the details about a deal that go beyond the deal terms. You can find out if density was the key factor or if the tenant was keyed in on the amenities. Asking a landlord why they chose to buy a building or why they sold it will tell you so much more about a market than any comp will.

So if you are just getting started in the business, my advice to you is to get out and meet people.  If you are at a dinner and see four successful brokers standing with a landlord, see if you can join the conversation.  Ask a smart question.  Listen.

A few years ago, at the NAIOP Gala, after the awards presentation, I stood with Steve Pozycki of SJP Properties, Anthony DiTommaso of Ivy Equities, and a few other brokers.  Steve explained how he built 11 Times Square and Anthony discussed his disposition of his buildings in MetroPark a few years earlier.  I don’t think I said a word, and for those that know me, you know that’s rare. What I learned in that 15 minute conversation was worth the price of the ticket tenfold.  

Be relentless.  Ask your company to pay for your membership to industry organizations and to events. If you make the most out of the opportunity, it will come back to the company exponentially.

Hopefully, I can break my bad habit and you’ll see me more often.  If you do, come say hi…and ask a smart question.