In commercial real estate, the quality of contacts and relationships you make is essential to your success. A good portion of this business relies on how you interact with brokers, buyer, sellers, engineers and city municipalities. In order to build a solid contact list that is sure to pull you through any situation, there are some key actions you must make with every person you come in contact with.
Many people simply meet a person, most likely forget his or her name, and continue with their day, with no reflection about that person, what they do, and how that new contact may contribute to their success. As a commercial real estate insider, you must start looking at every person as a possible opportunity, within and beyond your work hours.
During work hours, when you are calling and speaking to brokers, sellers, potential buyers, the city, investors, lenders and all the other various professionals in this business, never let a stone go unturned. Beyond just your normal business banter, take a minute to ask what the other person does, what they are interested in, and explain yourself to them as well. This interest must go beyond the obvious, such as, “I am the owner of the property.” or “I am a broker in California.”
Dig a little deeper, and you will be sure to find a wealth of information from many of the people with whom you speak. Perhaps you will discover new projects that need a joint venture, a commercial development hot spot, a property that needs to be bought right away due to an emergency, a person who specializes in a specific type of property that you want to be involved with and so on.
Every person has the potential to further your commercial real estate endeavors. So even when you are not at work, talk to people! Now, be courteous, of course, and don’t ream a person with a list of your “qualifying” questions and expect them to race to your side and help you out. There is always give and take in any valuable relationship.
Build rapport and get to know the people. A simple, “So what do you do?”, “What business are you in?”, or “What are you interested in?” are great conversation starters that will help get the ball rolling.
I have met numerous private investors and loan officers to whom I give more referrals than they know what to do with. In turn, I can get money, not only for my projects, but for those who may be purchasing my developments as well! It is amazing what a little kindness, genuine interest and casual conversation can unveil.
Although talking is a great way to find information, it is what you do with your information that really counts. Every person I meet, or have a potential to do business with, I ask for their name, number and email, so that I might contact them sometime about their work. If it is someone you feel has an asset or other contacts that could help you, explain to them that you think it would be mutually beneficial to do business with each other. Always ask permission to contact them if you should have a project they might be interested in, or if they may have more information regarding their profession.
This may seem forward of you in some cases, but you can always explain to them that you are always looking for people to do business with, and that their help would be very much appreciated. It is astonishing what people are willing to do if you ask for their help.
Give them a business card and your contact information as well. Give them permission to contact you whenever they would like, and tell them you look forward to speaking with them on another occasion.
After you have had a meeting with a new contact, store the information in a safe, organized place. Write a note about what you discussed, what you liked about the person, and how they might help you. Be as detailed and specific as possible! The last thing you want to do is sit down to a list of one hundred contact names and numbers, and have no idea what they do, or how each may benefit from building a relationship!
I know many people use digital resources, rolodexes, and other such organizing devices. This is great. However, I have my own tool that has proven to work really well. I use a basic, spiral notebook, like the kind you would use in high school. Because I may not always have access to my computer, or be at my desk with a rolodex, I keep with me this basic notebook wherever I go!
It is here that I write the name, date, place and contact information, including notes on what we discussed with every person in which I could potentially do business. The pages never fall out or get lost. I do not have to wait to get to a computer to type this information that is fresh in my mind, and it can conveniently travel in my car, briefcase and just about everywhere else! It is not fancy and complicated, but easy and functional. I call it “My Big Black Book.” You should try this method, and see how it works for you.
Realistically, not every person you meet is going to be that “super contact.” However, if you have a very informative and helpful conversation with someone, make it a point to send them a letter or email thanking them for their time, how you will use, or have used their advice, and the results you’ve experienced. Be sure to document what it was that you discussed so they know the exact conversation to which you are referring.
By being grateful, acknowledging other people’s work, and staying in contact with new people you will quickly build a contact list to rival those of seasoned commercial real estate professionals.
You will have “go to” contacts that can assist you on specific projects, put a good word in for you with the local city government, recommend you for projects, and notify you of properties that you may be interested in. Your opportunities will come more frequently and with better possibilities as your contact list builds. In a nutshell, follow these simple, yet essential rules:
· Build relationships.
· Be grateful.
· Stay in contact.
· Document all conversations.
These are the keys to building a successful, money-making contact list that will be with you for years to come.