How To Build Your Commercial Real Estate Network [Fast]

Real estate is one of the most relationship-driven businesses out there, and one of the quickest ways to build those relationships is by attending industry networking events.

These can be great opportunities to make connections that can ultimately lead to internships and full-time job opportunities, but how you approach each event is going to have a huge impact on the value you get out of attending.

So to help you come up with a game plan to tackle these successfully, this article walks through my three biggest pieces of advice to get the most out of a real estate networking event, and what you can say and do to turn short-term relationships into long-term opportunities.

If video is more your thing, you can watch the video version of this article here:

Start With Individuals or Very Small Groups

When you walk into a networking event, my first piece of advice to get the ball rolling is to start by approaching individuals or (very) small groups and introducing yourself.

As much as you might feel overwhelmed or worried about navigating social situations throughout the night, you will not be the only one feeling this way. Other people who are feeling nervous or shy are usually pretty easy to spot, generally scrolling aimlessly through their phone, pretending to write an email, or sticking only with the people they came to the event with.

And with this in mind, one of your first tasks should be to scan the room for both individuals standing alone (pretending to look busy) along with groups of just 2-3 people that look like they may have run out of things to talk about.

Unless someone is responding to an urgent email on their phone (which is relatively rare), people who are alone at events are usually the ones feeling nervous about approaching other people. And by taking the initiative to walk up and say hello, you’d be surprised at the sense of relief that many people will show when you’re the one that starts the conversation.

And if you see a group of 2-3 people standing together in silence and looking around the room, this is also usually a good indicator that there’s an opportunity to start a conversation. People from the same company will often end up at the same events, and will often huddle together when starting the night.

Real estate networking events and conferences are not cheap, and most people come to these with the honest intent to make new connections, which often makes a new face voluntarily entering the conversation a very welcome addition. By joining another group, you’re now also more likely to be approached by other people that may already know someone else within the group, increasing your chances of being introduced to even more potential connections.

What To Say at a Real Estate Networking Event

When you’re ready to jump in and start introducing yourself, the next logical question becomes, “What do I say to both start and continue a conversation?”

Simple questions like, “What do you do?”, “Where do you work?”, and, “What are the big projects you’re focused on right now?” are all great ways to break the ice, and can get people excited about having a conversation with you. Most people love talking about themselves, and if someone’s passionate about their work, talking about the deals or projects they’re working on can be a really enjoyable experience for them (and a great learning experience for you).

While work-related topics are great to get the conversation started, people also tend to underestimate the importance and power of treating people like friends within a professional setting. If you ask someone whether they live in the area, where they grew up, how long they’ve been in the industry, or where they went to college, you can take the conversation to an entirely different level, and build a much stronger relationship than you would have otherwise been able to when focusing exclusively on work.

Finding out that someone knows a friend of yours from college, or that you both grew up in the same state, or that you’ve worked for the same boss can all be great ways to build a stronger connection, and these are the kinds of relationships that will lead to long-term opportunities throughout your career.

Find a Way To Keep in Touch

Not everyone you meet will be worth following up with, but for the people you could see yourself working with in the future, you need to find a way to keep the conversation going after the event has ended.

This could involve something as simple as giving someone your business card and asking for theirs, or sending someone a LinkedIn request on the spot to stay connected. This will give you the opportunity to follow up after the event with an email or LinkedIn message, and invite someone out to lunch or coffee to continue the conversation.

It’s also important to keep in mind that real estate is a very small world, and careers evolve over time. If you think you may be able to help someone else right now, even if they can’t necessarily provide an immediate benefit to your own career, taking the time to meet with a new connection to provide guidance or feedback can pay dividends in your own career in unexpected ways.

Young, inexperienced industry professionals eventually turn into experienced, successful leaders, and these people will remember the individuals that took the time to help them along the way. I distinctly remember all the people who were generous enough to take the time to talk to me when I was just getting started in my career (and had very little to offer), and now, when some of these people have come back around and asked for favors or advice on their own situations, I’m more than happy to help in any way I can.

How To Break Into Commercial Real Estate

If you want more personalized help and guidance on building your real estate network, searching for jobs, and ultimately breaking into the commercial real estate industry, make sure to check out our all-in-one membership training platform, Break Into CRE Academy.

A membership to the Academy will give you instant access to over 120 hours of video training on real estate financial modeling and analysis, you’ll get access to hundreds of practice Excel interview exam questions, sample acquisition case studies, and you’ll also get access to the Break Into CRE Analyst Certification Exam. This exam covers topics like real estate pro forma and development modeling, commercial real estate lease modeling, equity waterfall modeling, and many other real estate financial analysis concepts that will help you prove to employers that you have what it takes to tackle the responsibilities of an analyst or associate at a top real estate firm.

As always, thanks so much for reading, and make sure to check out the Break Into CRE YouTube channel for more content that can help you take the next step in your real estate career.

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