Growin' Up - Hints For Young Brokers

The first week of January is behind us.  Some people are fast at work on their New Year's resolutions while others have already given up.  The gyms are packed and Charles Barkley is getting people to sign up for Weight Watchers by the dozen. As a commission based salesperson, we all start back at $0.00 when the calendar flips.  Some of us are lucky and have deals that we are working, long-term clients, and relationships we can rely on for business. The $0.00 disappears pretty quickly.  That said, my partner, Joe Sarno, has been in the business for 32 years and always hates seeing it.

As a young broker, it's a little harder to get excited about a new year, especially if that first commission isn't right around the corner.  I see my brother, Zachary Levy, working through his first year in the business and make no mistake, the first year is the toughest. 

Because young brokers simply don't know as much as mid-level and senior brokers, many find it hard to get meetings, build relationships, and add any value.  The key is figuring out how to add that value, both to potential clients and internally.  The challenge is...it's hard to sell someone something when you don't always know what they want to buy.  

In my opinion, the key to this business is building long-term relationships.  My father, Phil Neuer, told me the day I started, "It's not a brick and mortar business...it's a relationship business."  I have learned from one of the best as Joe Sarno is a master relationship builder. This obviously doesn't happen overnight.  Some of our best clients took years of relationship building before we ever did any business.  In fact, I chased our largest corporate account for eight years before being hired for the first assignment.

But most people who make real estate decisions have existing relationships and are being called repeatedly by seasoned brokers and canvassers alike.  That's what makes it so tough.  Some of the people who helped me the most early in my career were real estate executives that took the time to meet with me, but didn't give me any business.  Rather, they would help me understand what they were looking for from a service provider and as important, what they didn't like about certain brokers.

So if you are reading this and you are a young broker, here are seven hints to help you navigate the waters:

1. Persistence pays off.  If you are not willing to call someone ten times, don't call at all.

2. Focus on building relationships, not chasing commissions.  Clients can tell the difference.

3. Just because you work long hours, doesn't mean you work hard.  Work smart.  It's a results based business.

4. Network with other service providers like architects, furniture vendors and contractors. They probably can't help you win business. They are great sources of information and will help you for free if you try to help them win business.  Again...build relationships.

5. It's a marathon...not a sprint.  Don't worry if someone gets ahead of you in the short-term.  You have a long way to go to catch up.

6. Figure out a way to add-value, whether it's to a client or to a senior broker.  If you are adding value to a client, you will likely get repeat business.  If you are adding value to a senior broker, you will create job security and develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

7. Offer to do work that is non-transactional and non-commissionable.  Offer to do a lease abstract or benchmark their operating expenses. It's a foot in the door and sometimes will lead to business down the road.

 If you are a corporate real estate executive or you make the real estate decisions for your company, think about giving a young broker 30 minutes of your time once in a while to help them navigate the waters.  Finally, if you are a senior broker, remember how you got there, who helped you along the way, and why you became a success.  Pass that on.  It's great karma.

Happy 2012.  Thanks for reading. JN