In the real estate industry, we thrive in great part based upon the relationships that we build as brokers – this of course includes our clients, vendors and other alliance partners. Yet, many of us tend to avoid expanding this mindset to our competitors in the hopes of keeping some level of industry trade secrets and carving out an edge for ourselves.
A recommendation worth considering: don’t avoid your competition. Instead, work to develop positive, longstanding relationships with them and here’s why:
Learn from Your Competitors
When I talk to commercial real estate’s industry leaders who dream big, I am inspired by their infectious optimism. They are also keenly aware that our business is constantly changing – now more than ever.
These elite brokers have developed an obsession with continual improvement, the ability to think on a long-term basis and an extraordinary skillset to convert today’s challenges into tomorrow’s opportunities.
They also understand that interacting with the right people who productively talk about ideas, issues and relevant trends brings inherent value. This includes learning from their direct competitors. Why wouldn’t you?
Build Trust – Burning Bridges is Costly
I tell this story often to our younger team members – not because I am proud of it, but rather to use it as a real-life teaching lesson.
In my first year in the business, I had an unfortunate run in with a senior broker from a competing firm. New to the business and not fully understanding the intricacies that go along with deal making, I placed blame on the other broker and in the process, burned a bridge. The karma side of our industry became very apparent to me only 3 months later when I required information from that same individual.
To his credit, he took my call and while not without providing some level of well deserved admonishment, gave me what I needed. In the process, he also taught me how to be a better broker and professional. Over the years, he also became one of my closest allies. I was very fortunate – not everyone would respond with such kindness and class.
We work and compete in a challenging industry. However, difficult situations and interactions are salvageable. Learn from my early mistake and remember that in any negotiation, it is easier to be hard on the problem and softer on the people.
Open Lines of Communication Leads to Future Business
With so much work now being done online, it’s easy to forget that today’s CRE pros still maintain a great deal of face-to-face communication. It’s perhaps one of the primary reasons why tech innovation in our business has lagged behind other industries.
Trust is the cornerstone of all successful relationships and our industry is no different. As advancing technology and the clients who depend on it demand even more from brokers, the need to increase your lines of communication is inevitable.
Don’t underestimate the importance of breaking bread with your competitors. More importantly, strengthening relationships. It is key to growing your business and sustaining a highly successful career.
Benefits of Mentoring
You may be very surprised to see the direct benefits that come from being a mentor to others – whether inside or outside of your company.
Encouragement, positivity and professionalism seem to be in short supply these days. Those of us with tenure in commercial real estate have a tremendous responsibility to set the example – being of service to others and upholding the standard of excellence within our industry.
Giving back to the next group of real estate professionals is critical, whether in our own firm or a competitor. Together, we can help bring in a whole new generation of innovators who believe in integrity, hard work and the importance of maintaining positive relationships across our competitive landscape.
These are just a few ways you can embrace your competition and ultimately be more successful. Throughout my career, I have been incredibly fortunate to develop close working relationships with outside brokers – in fact, many have become close friends. If you are not already meeting and building closer alliances within the brokerage community, start today. You will not regret it.