by Chad Gleason, CCIM
I recently had a lunch meeting with a contact for a large company; we were to talk about some future work but ended up talking about a recent event in that person’s life. During the course of this conversation I discovered there was a need this contact had for help in a different direction. Something discovered by simply being there as a friend and listening. People prefer to work with people that they like and in the end our office gained some valuable additional business.
There is something special about informal conversation at coffee shops or over lunch in unique locations that allows for people to be themselves and relax. A meal is a spectacular time to connect with someone. So if you’re eating alone, you’re missing out on an opportunity! There is an infinite list of people who eat, so don’t hesitate to ask people with whom you interact daily--someone in the office, someone from the office next door, your brokers, or a broker from a competing office. The idea isn’t to close the deal at these meetings, but rather build the foundation of your future relationship. Enjoy the time, ask questions that allow them to tell their story, and be open to being a good listener.
Networking is largely useless unless you have goals. When planning meetings, I keep the following questions in mind:
- Who I want to meet, and why? Business owners, investors, tenants, landlords. I try to always meet with Connectors – people who have an incredibly large and strong personal network. We all have one friend who knows everyone and is up to date on all things going on in your world
- Can I build it before I need it? I always begin by reaching out to others and building my network of contacts before I need anything from them. Relationship building takes time and could be months and years in the making
- Have I done my research? Once I’ve defined someone I wish to meet, I want to be certain to know who the person is (roughly), what their interests are, what they do, and especially what things I might have in common with them. As a real estate professional I do this exact work on buildings, working to determine when it was built, what the square footage is, what’s the product type, the occupancy, the tenancy, and who owns it.
One of the better ways to shape your new relationship is to bring impactful change and value to Health, Wealth and Family/Children. Simplistic ways are to join in on a walking lunch or coffee or a lunch spin class. You may be able to introduce a connection so that a deal may close. The financial outcome of the deal may be crucial income for family, college tuition, or investments. It’s not always about the commission, but rather what influence the commission will have on that person’s life. Work towards turning connections into Compatriots – this is all about building upon those connections and turning them into people that you can rely on for a lifetime. It starts, appropriately enough, with freewill giving of yourself. You can’t keep score or demand trade for goods delivered, allow yourself to step out there and take a risk of losing something of value and gain the reward of friendship
I formed many of my ideas about making the most out of my meals after reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. This New York Times best-seller is full of amazing ideas and is a powerful guide to networking in a socially healthy and mutually beneficial way. It’s a must-read for those like me who want to make the most out of each part of the day. For me, the key is balance. It’s stressful to compartmentalize our personal and professional lives. So stay open-minded about connecting the two. You might be surprised at the outcome.
Chad Gleason, CCIM, is a Regional Director for the National Corporate Real Estate team for SVNIC and 2016 President of the Washington State Chapter of CCIM.