By Maria Patterson
Overused and often under-rated, the concept of networking has become a ubiquitous part of modern culture. However, that doesn’t dilute the value of smart, selective, focused networking for those who know how to do it right. Power Brokers, in fact, view it as one of the most important components of running a profitable real estate firm, and despite juggling an increasing number of priorities, they make sure networking stays toward the top of the list.
Here, some of the country’s leading Power Brokers share why face time, at the right time with the right people, is more important than ever.
Fulfilling a Basic Need
In a nutshell, brokers need each other. Especially given the quick-changing nature of consumers and market trends.
“Being a broker can be a lonely business,” says Pam O’Connor, president and CEO of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE). “It’s difficult for someone in that leadership role to share challenges or vet potential opportunities without exposure to non-competing peers with similar goals. Coming together to mentor one another, solve problems and share ideas is invaluable.”
Ed Krafchow, chairman and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate, agrees. “This is the loneliest ‘people career’ on the planet. For a real estate broker, there is real isolation within your firm and with the competitors around you. To get amongst your peers and listen to their solutions to like-kind problems is extraordinarily meaningful.”
Industry networking events—from brand and network conferences to media-sponsored events—provide brokers with important vehicles for gathering with their peers from around the country, and sometimes the globe.
“There are very few opportunities for brokers to let down their guard and be able to interact with their peers in a safe, candid environment,” says John Featherston, president & CEO of RISMedia, hosts of the Real Estate CEO Exchange in New York and the Power Broker Forum, Reception & Dinner at The National Association of REALTORS® Conference & Expo. “That’s why we tailor our events to accommodate and support the industry’s leading brokers.”
According to Helen Hanna Casey, president of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, specific broker-to-broker networking is the most valuable part of any industry event. “I love the cocktail time when we can actually get a chance to talk shop with our peers. We get to exchange ideas that are ‘rolling around’ in our heads but we haven’t tried yet,” she explains.
Prudential California President Gretchen Pearson’s primary networking groups are the Prudential Real Estate Apex/Pinnacle group and the Broker Council (TBC) Networking Group, which includes 13 brokerages from different parts of the U.S. and Canada. She combines participation in these groups with attendance at broader industry events.
According to Pearson, “The networking meetings provide us with the opportunity to gain candid, first-hand understanding of the successes and challenges of other brokerages. With a free exchange of questions, ideas and explanations, we are able to learn lessons that we can immediately apply to our business.”
At the brand executive level, networking is equally as valuable. Robert Moline, president and COO of HomeServices of America, stays involved in several networking groups, including: HomeServices of America Executive Leadership; Berkshire Hathaway Energy Executive Leadership; The Realty Alliance; the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices/Prudential Big Broker Network (Gibraltar). According to Moline, these networks provide him with access to new and different perspectives, expose him to the latest trends and technology, and allow him to learn from the challenges and successes of other real estate executives.
“As an industry leader, I believe that I have a responsibility to actively participate in shaping our industry and its current and future business models, and these networking events provide an opportunity to drive these important discussions,” explains Moline.
Specific networking goals vary from broker to broker depending upon his or her particular circumstances. But networking knows no boundaries and is invaluable at every stage of a broker’s journey.