With the events of 2020, networking in CRE has changed. In-place interactions have taken a necessary backseat to virtual connections. We all must adapt in order to advance our careers.
In this episode of the A.CRE Audio Series, we’re pleased to be joined by Allison Weiss, Principal and Founder of CRE Recruiting. Allison offers excellent insights into how to network in 2021 and beyond.
We’re very grateful for Allison’s willingness to share her knowledge with the A.CRE audience!
CRE Networking in 2021 with Allison Weis
Watch as Spencer, Tucker Wells, and Allison Weis discuss CRE networking.
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Episode Transcript – CRE Networking in 2021 with Allison Weis
Welcome to the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. Join Michael Belasco and Spencer Burton. As they pull back the curtain on everything, commercial real estate and introduce you to some of the top minds in the industry. If you want to take your skills to the next level and be part of a growing community of CRE professionals across the world, this is for you.
Spencer Burton (00:25):
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the A.CRE Audio Series. We’re joined today by guest Allison Weis, as well as A.CRE Head of Recruiting Tucker Wells, Allison, and Tucker great to have you both on the episode today.
Allison Weiss (00:40):
Great to be here. Thanks, Spencer.
Spencer Burton (00:42):
Yeah, most of you already know Tucker. And so maybe we’ll focus on Allison and her background. So Allison is the Founder and Head of CRE Recruiting. Her background is in recruiting. What? 10 plus years in that space-based in LA, Allison?
Allison Weiss (01:03):
Based in LA, but I’m taking a little momentary digital nomad adventure quarantining from some other places around the country. So today, I’m in the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
Spencer Burton (01:14):
No kidding. Wow. Yeah. Well, good. And so it’s great to have you on. Anything that you would add to your mini-bio that I missed here.
Allison Weiss (01:26):
Sure. So I think I’m just overall a people connector. I care about helping people build companies and build careers, specifically in commercial real estate. And I’ve been doing that for the last seven years in the industry and 10 years overall.
Spencer Burton (01:39):
Great. So the reason why we asked Allison to come on besides the fact that her knowledge is second to none in this area, her insights are incredibly valuable, but she joined us as a volunteer interviewer on a mock interview session that we did with Georgetown real estate students. And the feedback we got from George said students that she was phenomenal. She provided just really good insight into ways that they could improve their interviewing. And we got to bring Allison on because she’s going to offer some really good advice.
Spencer Burton (02:13):
With that, let me set up the topic here, Allison, if I may. So we’re now January 2021. I get my months right. And it’s a different world than even a year ago. This is real estate networking, is key in real estate, and yet one-on-one, face-to-face interactions are very difficult. And so what we want to talk about today is how does one stand out in 2021, both from a personal branding standpoint as well as from personal networking standpoint. So that’s the topic. The first question to you, Allison, as you think about networking in 2021, how is it different from networking even a year ago?
Allison Weiss (02:58):
Sure. So I think a lot of people feel like there are so many differences. And to me, I like to simplify it and remind people that the only thing that’s different today is the channel. We used to get to see people face-to-face. The relationship building is the same. I think the core of what we’re trying to do, which is build sort of common ground, mutual interests, establish positive first impression, and also figure out, is there a way to move the ball down the field with this relationship? Is there sort of mutual sort of reciprocity or things that we can work on together? All of that is still the same. It’s just in different circumstances, different channels. And really, I think it requires maybe a little bit more technical skill than it did in the past.
Allison Weiss (03:45):
I also think though there are some benefits in some of the differences, especially for those of us who live in big cities like LA or New York sort of prohibited from a commute perspective, to attend all the events, there’s sometimes greater cost associated with attending some of the cross country events and larger conferences. And too, I think there are certain personality types, and certain sort of extrovert versus introvert personalities are going to function differently in each type of sort of setting an event.
Allison Weiss (04:17):
So for certain people, this is a little bit more comfortable. This is a little bit easier. They don’t have to worry about being sort of the wallflower in the back of the ballroom anymore. And so I’ve seen a lot of people who maybe have shied away from networking events in the past dip their toes into whether it’s social media, whether it’s a Zoom sort of weekly or regular networking group. And so I think it’s been one of the, maybe silver linings of this time for us and in commercial real estate, this movement towards utilizing tools and technology and social media more effectively because I think overall we were quite a few paces behind some of the other industries.
Spencer Burton (05:01):
Yes. Well, all very good points. I love the silver lining. Another thing that has really stood out to me. And it myself, Michael, who wasn’t able to join today. We were constantly interacting in a virtual fashion with our audience and with those within our audience who reach out, but many in the industry their connections and networking is local. And now that we’re not connected in a physical way, I’m seeing people who generally would have only networked in New York City, all of a sudden moving people across the country. And it’s ironic because, from a political standpoint, things are very divisive right now, but I think from a professional standpoint, there’s a lot more cohesion than we’ve seen. Tucker, are you seeing something similar? You’re an expert networking champion. Talk to us a little bit about what you’re seeing differently today, January 2021 versus January 2020.
Tucker Wells (06:05):
Well, thanks, Spencer and Allison, great to have you on, and I want to get your thoughts on this, Allison, because I’ve kind of separated myself from the actual recruiting business in the last year. But kind of how I see it is the playing field is almost even. I’m seeing a lot of remote jobs online. I mean, Spencer, you guys put up a job post the other day remote. One of my old clients remote. And so that candidate in New York who is graduating from Columbia, NYU has the same chance as the SMU and TCU, CAL, you mentioned UNC or North Carolina. So I’m kind of seeing an evening of the playing field and the people who are getting the jobs. It’s not really based on kind of how it usually is in terms of getting the job through parents or alumni. It’s really kind of through digital brand or kind of just hard work and reaching out, getting online, and networking.
Allison Weiss (07:12):
Absolutely. I think what has happened has caused a huge disruption in our industry and the way that we work. I’ve been lucky enough to work nationally the bulk of my career. So I’ve been used to having late-night networking events and things like that in different time zones and flying across the country and things like that. Now we can’t do that, but we still have the opportunity to engage and meet and grow relationships with people. At the same time as a lot of companies who let’s talk about sort of the principle side of the business for a moment, if you’re in places like California or New York, or if you’re heavily invested in some of the assets that have been really tremendously impacted by COVID, talking about hospitality, big-box retail, things like that, you’re looking at what are your other opportunities, and they might not be in your backyard. They might be across the country. They might be upstate.
Allison Weiss (08:07):
So I think that people’s geographic scope has definitely widened. I think that that’s reinforced the need to have positive relationships and connections to people, not just locally or regionally, but nationally. And so the people who invest in building a brand for themselves online primarily with LinkedIn, but with some new platforms that are up and coming, I think like Clubhouse are going to be really interesting and level the playing field for folks who might be in New York today and applying to something in LA, you also have movement of people. I myself decided in October it was not looking like it was going to get better. And so, while I’m technically traveling, what I’m doing is basically quarantining from different locations.
Allison Weiss (08:55):
So and I think a lot of people are in that boat. A lot of the candidates that I talked to, a lot of my clients they’re reconsidering, even if they’ve had long-term roots in a particular market. I think all of these shifts are good. I do think our industry… I like to relate it to a high school. Everybody sort of knows everybody it’s the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but really it’s only one or two degrees. And I think that each market used to be like the size of a high school. Well, now those markets are getting shaken up a bit. And I think that does level the playing field for that candidate who might be out of market, who might not have sort of a direct connection or way in. And if that person is aggressively out there, I say aggressively. That’s maybe not the right word. I would replace that with authentically.
Allison Weiss (09:48):
This person is out there authentically representing their value in the market, using a variety of different platforms in different media because different channels are going to speak to different types of people. They are, I think, the best position to capitalize on the unique opportunities that are going to exist. And are already coming out today from a remote perspective.
Spencer Burton (10:11):
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Tucker brought up the remote job opportunities. I don’t know if you’re seeing it as much, Allison, I live somewhat in a bubble, in a remote world, but I do see more and more job opportunities that are open to individuals across the world. And what’s incredible as we manage this job search right now, I say manage. So I’m at Stable with property. That’s what I do full-time, and we’re a fully remote company, and so we have job openings. One happens to be an acquisition manager, and what’s unique to it versus in other places that I’ve been is we’re looking at candidates all across the country. And so you now have someone in New York who went to Columbia as an example, competing against an individual at a completely different part of the country for the exact same job, and that hasn’t been typical.
Spencer Burton (11:09):
To me, that reinforces the importance of developing a personal brand that stands out. That like what makes you different now? Not just the fact that you’re in New York. And so you’re only competing against that pool of job seekers. You’re competing against everyone. How do you stand out? So let’s talk a little bit about personal brand. What do you view as the one or two most important components to building a personal brand that makes you stand out in a positive way?
Allison Weiss (11:42):
Sure, absolutely. So I think the first thing that I always go back to its values. Thinking about who you are as a person, what’s important to you, what do you want people who meet you and work with you to experience? What are the sort of traits? And I guess if they were writing your obituary, what are the different sorts of things you would want said about you? And really being intentional and going through the sort of introspective process of nailing down what those values actually are. One of the values that I really treasure is community. And so, I look for opportunities to build community with people online and to introduce people to one another, and make connections. And so I think at the heart of a lot of what I do from a recruiting standpoint is creating community, within companies, within groups of people, and things like that.
Allison Weiss (12:38):
So I think going through the process of evaluating what your values are and don’t make a laundry list, there’s actually a great resource that maybe we can link to. In the show notes that I put together, that’s just a list of different characteristics and traits and values. I recommend people go through it and sort of highlight the ones that resonate with them. And you’ll start to see patterns emerge. If you start to see the same sorts of words, like kindness or generosity or enthusiasm, or whatever the case might be, you can start to isolate and pick your top five and sort of force rank them. I like to have my values sort of front and center. When I had to set up in an office, I had them on a post-it note on my monitor.
Allison Weiss (13:24):
So whenever I was in a challenging conversation, I wanted to remember my values, and one of my values is kindness. And so it’s really a good thing to have in front of you because if I want to create an experience where people perceive me as a kind person, it’s easier to be that person and show up in the world as that person if I have that reminder. So one, figure out your values, and we’ve got like a little tiny worksheet that you can do that way.
Allison Weiss (13:56):
And then the second thing I think really is to figure out your own unique voice and some of your stories. There are a lot of key stories that we have that I think sort of assemble who we are as a person, and a lot of them are probably tied to those values. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about community is that I grew up in a military family. I went to three elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools. So I lived 13 different places before I was 15.
Allison Weiss (14:27):
So for me, I latch on to community, and community is so important for me because community and sort of consistency and community for me was absent for the better part of my formative years. And so, a lot of people might have had similar or different experiences that have really galvanized them towards their values.
Allison Weiss (14:50):
Another value that I see a lot of people sort of identify with is hard work. That resonates with me, and I think about growing up and playing sports. I played softball, and I played basketball. And I remember when I was 13, I was playing on an AAU basketball team. I was a point guard. I was 5’1″. I was short, and I was fast, and I could go up and down the court. And then, within six months, I grew six inches. I was all arms and legs. I would run and fall down and foul people. And it sort of destroyed what I thought about myself as an athlete. But what my dad always said was that “No matter what, they’re always going to be people who are faster than you, who are stronger than you, who are better than you from a skill standpoint, but you can outwork people, you can out prepare people, and you can approach things with more heart than the most talented players.”
Allison Weiss (15:51):
And so those sort of two stories, I think, encapsulate. Those are some values that are really important to me. And those are some pieces of sort of my life. It makes me a little bit more human. Those are also the things that take a little bit of vulnerability to share. It also takes some practice. I would encourage people who are trying to work on storytelling and figuring out sort of why they are, who they are and how they show up in the world, and what their values are. Is to go through that values exercise, and then start thinking back to each of those words and like, “What’s the story, or what’s an experience that you had that really helped to solidify that particular value or concept for you,” and then just practice telling it. But those two stories that’s definitely not the first time I’ve told those stories.
Allison Weiss (16:41):
But those are the things that people remember about me. It’s not always the LinkedIn advice I provide. It’s not always the resume review or whatever. A lot of people remember the more human parts of who I am in my story. And I think that people can identify with that. They can find common ground with me and because I’ve shown up in a vulnerable way, and I’ve shared about myself, and I’ve done it in a productive and constructive way. And obviously, there’s a difference. There’s definitely TMI on the internet, and we know that, but the more you can harness your story and your values, I think the more powerfully you can show up, and the more visible you are to the people who need you and need your help.
Spencer Burton (17:28):
Yeah. That’s great advice. And I have drawn this visual of Allison’s computer in sticky notes all around-
Allison Weiss (17:34):
All different colors.
Spencer Burton (17:37):
All different colors. I love that. I was fortunate in going to grad school. There’s an application process, especially if you want to get into a competitive school. And that process forces you to look or inward and say, “Who am I? Where have I been? What do I want to accomplish?” And really, that’s that value exercise that you described, and then you have to develop stories that link your values to you to your values. I love. Now, let’s move the ball down the court a little bit, though. So let’s imagine someone goes through this exercise, they’ve got their sticky notes up on their computer, and they’ve got some great stories that they’ve rehearsed in the mirror. They’re ready to tell those stories and to share their values. Practically how do they do that? Especially in a virtual setting, how do they get in front of people so that they can share those stories so that they can convey those values? What’s some practical advice for folks who want to get out there now begin to network and share their brand with the world?
Allison Weiss (18:42):
Absolutely. So I think a lot of people work themselves up into a lot of anxiety over taking that first step. And what I would say is think about the value. What’s your number one value. If your number one value is hard work, I’m thinking for a moment now about Kobe Bryant and sort of his legacy and a post that I made a few weeks ago that that seemed to resonate with a lot of people. So hard work is the value that I hold, is the value that I see consistently with a lot of the high achievers in our industry. And so okay, who really demonstrates that for me? Who’s a person that really is one of those virtual mentors. It’s not somebody I’ve ever met or ever had the opportunity even to watch in person, unfortunately.
Allison Weiss (19:33):
But it’s somebody whose career I followed, whose life has sort of demonstrated lessons for me. And so I wrote about how I felt about Kobe Bryant and the different lessons I could take away from Kobe Bryant’s life. And I think that’s a really good place to start. Who’s a person that you admire who you have that shared value with. Everybody has somebody, and sometimes it’s someone really close to you, and sometimes it’s Kobe Bryant or Oprah or something like that. Either way, I think you’ll get great stories back and great feedback from other people. And again, you’re just letting people in a little bit. You’re not telling people as much as you’re showing people. I think a lot of people think social media is for telling people who you are. I think it’s more about demonstrating who you are, and you do that through the content. You do that through consistently showing up. You do that from being consistent and in alignment with who you actually are as a person.
Allison Weiss (20:36):
For instance, if you say your value is hard work, but when people interact with you when you work with clients, they’re getting the opposite impression. There’s something that’s out of alignment there. And I love the practice of introspection. I love the analogy you made sort of grad school application process. I think two of the things that have changed my life the most in the last few years, and specifically since becoming an entrepreneur, is focused introspection and sort of evaluating things that have happened and different opportunities and really sort of getting quiet and spending time journaling through things.
Allison Weiss (21:22):
But then taking action. And you don’t have to go and put up your first video. That doesn’t have to be the first thing that you do. And I was actually very hesitant to do video for a long time, and I knew that it was something that I was afraid of. Usually, when you’re afraid of something, unless it’s a bear, you should go towards that fear. There’s usually a reason. There’s some sort of desire there or opportunity for you to do more or expand more or grow. And so just over the last, maybe year, year, and a half, I’ve really gone and done a lot of videos because I do think that for me, one, video works well on certain platforms. And as you know, you guys are using YouTube and video heavily in your business.
Allison Weiss (22:07):
It helps people again to understand more quickly who you are, and that builds what I call sort of the know, like, and trust factors, right? People do business with those that they know, like, and trust. And if I can more quickly get people to that point of understanding who I am as a person and what I care about, and what I’m driven and motivated by, I’m more likely to find my people from a client perspective, from a candidate perspective. And also here’s the other thing, I think the best personal brands, both attract and repel, they attract the people who are the right fit. From a client’s perspective, they also repel the people who are out of alignment with the values that you have. And so I think if you’re communicating and you’re intentional about your communication, and you take that first step, and then you just start to show up more consistently.
Allison Weiss (23:03):
On LinkedIn, you truly only have to post, I would say, as a beginner, maybe once a week, challenge yourself to do it once a week. Set a goal, say, “I’m going to use LinkedIn, focused for the next 20 minutes. I’m going to either share my own content that I’ve sort of prepared, or I’m going to share someone else’s content. I’m going to comment on three posts. I’m going to react to three different posts. And I’m going to send a message of gratitude, or just checking in or sharing some news you can use with someone I know based on an article I just read or something like that. So really, focus 20 minutes, even just once a week, on LinkedIn. You have to start somewhere. And one of the comments that I get sometimes from people is, “Allison, I see you everywhere. You’re in my newsfeed constantly. How are you doing this? Why are you doing this? How does this work?” I didn’t start today. And I don’t think it’s fair to compare yourself to people like you and I, Spencer and Tucker, who started years ago in terms of building our personal brands and building traction online, and things like that. It shouldn’t discourage you either.
Allison Weiss (24:23):
I think there are other platforms that are coming to the forefront that are newer, for instance, Clubhouse. I just started using Clubhouse a week or two ago, and I’ve, co-hosted a few rooms, and I’m loving it. I’m loving the moment sort of access to people I would never be able to hear from without paying tens of thousands of dollars. And I also love the collaboration and, sort of, I guess, contemporary and ephemeral conversations that are happening there, but that’s a pretty level playing field if you want to talk about level playing field.
Allison Weiss (24:56):
So if you start in Clubhouse today, people only have a few weeks or a few months on you. So you have an opportunity similarly to TikTok, same thing that early users and first movers on TikTok got. So think about that. If LinkedIn is not your thing, I would consider you to rethink that just because from a professional perspective, there’s really no other platform that’s going to give you the organic reach for your messaging, whatever that messaging is. And I guess one last thing before I get off the social media soapbox. I think Gary Vaynerchuk is someone who I love for a lot of the reasons that I’ve talked about. He’s authentic. He’s consistent. He shows up. He tells stories about who he is. He lives sort of from this place of values first, as opposed to selling first.
Allison Weiss (25:48):
I think a lot of people’s initial reaction with LinkedIn is I’m going to go, and I’m going to sell to people. One of his books that is one of my favorites is called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. And so think of the Jabs as adding value. So you add value, add value, add value, and then you make an ask, and the ask isn’t necessarily a sale. The ask might be a question. The ask might be an introduction. I think the thing that most people abuse LinkedIn for is your ability to send messages and make connections. And I think if you’re looking to get something before you’ve invested and provided value to that person, you’re doing it wrong.
Spencer Burton (26:35):
Yeah. Well, that’s a great point. As you focus on adding value, it’s incredible the amount over time, and it’s a long game, right?
Allison Weiss (26:46):
Spencer Burton (26:46):
You don’t, you don’t add value and expect anything in return, let alone anything in return tomorrow, but as you add value, it compounds. Over time that value comes back to you in ways that you can’t even… you don’t know, you can’t predict. And that’s the whole point is let’s think about adding value without anything in return. And then just let the world come back to you. Now-
Tucker Wells (27:13):
Spencer real quick.
Spencer Burton (27:14):
Oh yeah, go ahead. Tucker.
Tucker Wells (27:15):
Before you move on, I’ve been taking notes-
Allison Weiss (27:17):
I have one note right for you too.
Tucker Wells (27:19):
I’ve been taking notes. I’m a note-taker. And if you didn’t have a pen in hand or you weren’t typing, I would advise the listeners to go back because I think you said a lot of good stuff. And I just want to point out a few practical examples of how I’ve employed those in my life and why I’m here really today. But first, let’s start off with the values. Allison, I cold-called you one day, just like I did with Spencer.
Allison Weiss (27:48):
Tucker Wells (27:50):
You own the website CRErecruiting.com. I own the website crerecruiter.com. And I’m like, “All right, who is this?” And so I liked you automatically because I’m like, “All right. She thinks like I do.” And then you spoke with me for 30 minutes. We chatted and first off, a lot of people don’t do that. They don’t make time for each other. And first off, that was kind. That was smart of you to buy that domain. Again, it’s intentional. You went out with intent. And so I think I wrote this in my notes when you find those traits in yourself, you’ll automatically seek those people out. And again, that’s what I do with Spencer. That relationship started with a cold call, then an email. And we built that relationship over a year.
Tucker Wells (28:47):
And so I think when you find out those traits in yourself, it’s a magnet. And then, another thing you said is kind of build your story. A mentor of mine said Facts Tell Stories Sell, and then there was one more thing that you said. I kind of forget, but yeah, go back, look at the notes and just reach out, keep reaching out.
Spencer Burton (29:24):
We’ll have show notes, so they can go back and see that. Let me play the devil’s advocate a bit on the social media piece. So, Allison, you’re a master at it. I less so, but over the years and sharing a passion mine when you’re passionate about something, people who are equally passionate just kind of gravitate to you, and you build a community in that way. What do you say to the person that goes, “Okay, Allison, that’s great.” But you have a business. You’re an entrepreneur, right? And so, ultimately, it’s about building your business. I’m an associate at XYZ real estate investment firm. I’m just looking to grow my career. Is it really worth my time to be posting on LinkedIn every day?
Allison Weis (30:15):
Spencer Burton (30:15):
Asking for that person. They’re building a career working for organizations, not necessarily. I mean, is it still worth it to build a personal brand in a very deliberate way?
Allison Weiss (30:29):
Absolutely. And I have so many shining examples of people who are working within companies and are establishing and have established fantastic personal brands that benefit not just them but their organization. I think if you’re trying to convey, let’s say it’s performance review time or bonus review time, and you’re trying to demonstrate the value that you’ve brought to your employer. You can take a look at if you’ve generated revenue if you’re in a production sort of role. What did you bring to the table? Accounts, clients generated contacts, things like that. Doing things like showing up online, adding value, participating in conversations, that leads to things like this podcast guest spots. It leads to participating in panels with the universities and talking in a different sort of set of peers.
Allison Weiss (31:25):
It elevates not just you but the company that you’re working for, and it puts it in the spotlight. And I think it’s difficult to quantify what is the value in that. But there are some metrics to social media, and there are tools that you can use to help you to sort of measure the progress. And I know everybody has unique talents. One of mine is definitely not math, and I know that you guys have that skill. But there’s some very analytical folks who want to sort of measure all of the different sort of ROI that comes from social. I would tell you that the brands that I’ve built for myself started way back when LinkedIn started. And a lot of my sort of embracing of the tool had to do with being a recruiter.
Allison Weiss (32:20):
I was already on the site all day long. I wanted to contribute to conversations, add value. I wanted people to know me and see me and use me as a resource. So I do think that the seeds that I planted years and years ago are being harvested every single day. And what that does ultimately and what it has enabled is really me never having a cold call anyone. If I do reach out to someone that I haven’t spoken with before, I generally can get to them through any number of connections and some of the people that I’m connecting with. I have three, four, 500 connections with. So, the chances are, they’ve already seen my content. They’ve already maybe even engaged with me. I got a cold call yesterday from somebody who’s been following my journey for the last several years, and now it’s the right time for him to leave a career in an institutional environment.
Allison Weiss (33:19):
And it’s like this unicorn person that I would be lucky to place and work with. And that’s not something that happens overnight. But I think there’s tremendous value in starting today. And really investing in the future. You don’t know. I knew to some degree that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know how that was going to happen for me truly. And when I realized that I was no longer in love with sort of the environments that I had been working in within commercial real estate, there was a piece of me who thought, “What if this is just not the right industry for me anymore?” And what I realized was, I love the industry. I love the people. I love the dynamics. I love that I’m always learning and always challenged, and I will never be the smartest person in any room. And that for me is thrilling because I’m as much of a student as I am a teacher.
Allison Weiss (34:23):
But I feel like you never know where the road is going to take you, and you never know who’s going to be along that journey with you and the connections that I’ve made through social media, the friendships that I’ve made through social media. My clients are people that I want to go have a beer with and go to a football game with and all of that. And I think you can’t really put a dollar value on that. You can’t really put a time value on that. I think it’s just priceless. And I didn’t know it was going to work out this way. But I’m really glad that I did the work. And it really was small amounts of work. It was five minutes here, 10 minutes here, commenting, introducing two people. And it’s just a snowball sort of effect down a mountain.
Spencer Burton (35:17):
Yeah. Let me reinforce that because there is a perception, and I think it’s wrong that social media networking, not general networking, but social media networking, personal brand management is meant for and best for entrepreneurs. And those who have a track of, I’m going to work for a company all my life don’t need to worry about that. Don’t need to spend time on that. I’ve had coworkers over the years. They don’t even have LinkedIn accounts today. Because they’re like, “It doesn’t, it doesn’t matter to me.” And I just have a different view. I shared this with you, Allison, before we started. I took a class, one of the more impactful classes during my grad school education. I did a master’s in real estate at Cornell and a class that wasn’t even real estate related.
Spencer Burton (36:07):
Now, probably the most impactful class I had taught by Professor Mona Olsen. If you’re at Cornell and if I’m not even sure if Dr. Olsen still teaches, but if she does, a phenomenal class. And one piece of advice and I’m paraphrasing the advice was, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to go into business for yourself, you’re going to go work for someone your entire life, treat your personal brand, treat your networking as your own personal business. Treat your career is your own personal business. Treat it like that. Market, have strategy around who you are and what you want to portray to the marketplace.” And Allison’s advice around introspection, understanding your values, creating stories to tell those values. That was incredibly valuable for me and really has guided my career since then. And I can provide hundreds of examples of the unintended consequences of me simply treating my career like a business.
Spencer Burton (37:06):
And it happens right now where I’m in a startup and a business that I’m a part of as a partner. And it’s more entrepreneurial. But even before I was truly entrepreneurial, the benefits I saw and they compound, but as the years went by, the benefits I saw almost every single week, just simply by saying, “You know what, my personal brand matters. I’m going to go out and communicate that personal brand to the world,” whether it be through social media or through a blog or through video or through one-on-one connections.
Spencer Burton (37:40):
So we’re running low on time. I want to make sure that we go full circle on this. So we talk social media. In a virtual setting and an individual wants to build their personal brand, communicate the personal brand, interact with like-minded individuals, outside of kind of the ones that you’ve mentioned. Are there other ways that they can do that?
Allison Weiss (38:04):
Yes. So I would love to just give an example from my own sort of experience. I looked around a few years ago, and I went, “Where are all the women like me in commercial real estate?” And to be fair, they’re not as many of us. That’s something we’re working on, and that’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart. And so then I looked to see, “Okay, what are the other women’s commercial real estate groups that are out there?” And there are a handful of groups. And so I took a look at all of my different options and sort of explored them, and nothing exactly sort of fit right. There was nothing that I was really excited to do. And I really wanted to be more involved. I wanted a close group of female friends and colleagues and people I could refer business to and sort of learn and grow with who had similar perspectives.
Allison Weiss (38:57):
And I realized I couldn’t find what I wanted. And so to me, I was like, “Who do I know who I want to spend more time with? Are there people that I’ve met at networking events, who I had a great impression of, or people that I’ve maybe had conversations with, who are those people?” And so I made sort of a shortlist, and I reached out to those people, and I said, “Listen, this is how I’m feeling. I really would love to have more strong female leaders within commercial real estate in my sort of circle. And I would love to be able to refer more business specifically to women and have fun events and do things together and all of that.”
Allison Weiss (39:43):
So I reached out to a handful of those people and said, “This is what I want to do. Think about who you know, who you can talk to, who feels similarly, and let’s all get together and talk about what that might look like.” And so that was like a year and a half ago. And t’s a small group, it’s 10 of us, but the things that we collaborate on together, the conversations that we have, we alternate between having happy hours on Zoom, of course, we used to do them in person and then professional development, getting different speakers to help grow us and stretch our knowledge. We’ve done everything from personal branding and social media to we’re starting to look at bringing in someone to talk to us about multifamily investing.
Allison Weiss (40:28):
And I couldn’t find the community I wanted to be in. And so I helped to create it. And it was not an opportunity for me to find a group of people that I could boss around, but a group of people who were like-minded that I could collaborate with, who I wanted to promote as much as I want to share my own stories. I want to talk about their stories even more because I think they’re incredible. And so I think if you don’t find exactly the right spot for yourself online or in a Zoom networking group, there’s nothing stopping you from doing what I did. It’s very simple. I’m happy to have a conversation with anybody who feels like they don’t have their sort of tribe within the industry. I’m happy to help you. And some of those amazing leaders and women in my group have gone on to sort of launch and create groups specifically to bring the Latinx community together, to bring the Asian community together, all within commercial real estate.
Allison Weiss (41:33):
So it’s sort of one of those things that just sprung out of the idea of wanting to have more female friends in the business who sort of had similar perspectives. So if you don’t have your home, make your home and invite people into it. That, to me, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. And it was a little anxiety-provoking because you’re sort of holding out your hand and saying, “I feel this way, do you feel this way? Do you want to be my friend?” But truly, I think every interaction that I have with someone, if it’s someone I haven’t met yet or someone, I don’t know that, well, this is just to me, a friend that I haven’t met yet. And if I treat it that way, it sort of takes all of the anxiety, all of sort of anxiousness, and sort of striving for perfection that I think some people have in networking and makes it more of a conversation. And that’s all networking really is.
Spencer Burton (42:31):
Yeah. Great example Allison. Thank you for joining us. Tucker, thank you as well for your insights today. And to our listeners, this has been another A.CRE Audio Series. We’re thankful that you watched and you got something valuable out of it. And we look forward to seeing you on the next one.
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. For show notes and additional resources, head over to www.Adventuresincre.com/audioseries. Would you like to learn real estate financial modeling in a matter of weeks and do it with zero guesswork? If so, the A.CRE Accelerator is for you. The accelerator is a step-by-step case-based program designed to teach you exactly what you need to know. And in the order, you need to know it. So you can gain both the knowledge and experience to take your career to the next level. To see if the accelerator is right for you. Go to www.adventuresincre.com/accelerator.