Social Networking is increasingly gaining the attention of commercial real estate brokers and the focus is primarily on the value of Social Media as a business development tool. When I initiated my social networking efforts back in August of last year I had two primary objectives in mind:
- Business Development: Experiment with Social Media to determine if it was a valuable tool in developing new business relationships resulting in new clients and referral sources.
- Customer Service: Determine if Social Media would be an effective platform in increasing communication with my existing client base.
Let’s admit reality here, that as brokers we have to manage our time wisely. Touching base with all of our clients on a consistent basis is a challenge when we have the priority of closing the transactions we were hired to execute as well as the pressure of finding the next deal we are going to work on. The office lease I am trying to close, the market survey that needs to be completed and the presentation and proposal for the company’s business I am competing for tends to take priority over discussing the real estate strategy that I want my client to consider that has 28 months remaining on his lease.
Focusing On All My Clients
As a commercial real estate broker who earns income typically based primarily with transactions, there is a tendency to concentrate on deals currently on your plate and to neglect focus on the value you can provide to the client that does not have an immediate real estate requirement for you to work on. I understood my clients are busy people and in order to get them to think about real estate more often and visit my Blog, as well as my other social media sites on a regular basis would require me to provide valuable information that was going to be beneficial to them in managing their business and planning for the future.
My efforts to consistently provide quality content and valuable resources that what would be informative to my existing clients and not just prospective new clients about to be in the marketplace resulted in a shift from thinking less like a transaction centric broker focused on the next deal or new account and more like the professional that holds the responsibility of managing my client’s corporate real estate function. I did not want my blog or social media sites to be solely a public relations or marketing platform. For example, as I wrote articles on my blog about the advantage and disadvantages of a sale/leaseback transaction, the mechanics of a “blend & extend” transaction or where rental rates were headed and how they could take advantage of that trend. I found myself thinking about what clients I already have that I should discuss a particular topic or idea with. Granted there is significant information on my blog site about Colliers International, the services we provide and my qualifications. However the focus of my blog is centered on market intelligence, economic trends, corporate real estate strategy and best practices and the same applies to my Twitter and Facebook sites.
Expanding My Knowledge
When you dive into social media with business to business objectives in mind, if you do not know it already you learn very quickly the marketing and sales techniques you have used for years will be fruitless in the social media arena. Whether your blogging or have an account on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter or a Facebook account, if your pounding people constantly with your self-promotional junk you will quickly be ignored. What is required is that you provide people with valuable information. You must be willing to share your expertise, sources of information and resources.
We live today in the electronic age of “information overload” I have connected with and follow many bright, “like minded” individuals from the real estate and business community who are active in social media. The amount of valuable information discovered on blogs I follow and the information shared on sites like facebook and twitter has sharpened both my real estate and business knowledge base.
In turn the articles I write on my blog, or the information I post on my twitter page or facebook wall must be interesting in order to obtain people’s attention, start a conversation and develop a new business relationships. When I get home from the office in the evening and I sit down with my laptop to write a new article on my blog or share article I read in a business or real estate publication on facebook or twitter, I need some interesting information to share. I can’t remember the last time I had the TV on other than to watch a Texas Longhorns or Dallas Cowboys football game. Instead, I am scanning an informative business website, analyzing CoStar data for market trends, reading a market report from the Colliers-San Jose office or reading a best practice whitepaper written by a SIOR professional. Every day is a quest for new knowledge. The end result I am a more knowledgeable commercial real estate professional.
Are You Getting New Business From Social Media?
I have heard that question a time or two and I recognize many of my colleagues and peers are skeptical about social media’s value as a tool in commercial real estate or business in general. While, I understand their skepticism, I am obviously a believer in its merit. I could tell you about my social media success in the short time I have adopted this platform, but I will save those details for another day. What is my ROI? When numerous clients have called or e-mailed to tell me they impressed with my blog and I know without question that Social Media has expanded my knowledge base. I would answer that Social Media has made me a better broker and for my personal objectives, that alone is an acceptable return on investment.