Look at these millennials. Photo by Steven Visneau.

Commercial Real Estate

CRE Opinion: Working Hard is the ‘Easy’ Way to Start Your Real Estate Career

Now seems as good a time as any to offer some unsolicited advice for those beginning their real estate careers. 

Graduation season has come and gone, summer internships are winding down, and newbies in the real estate industry are settling into their daily rhythms. Now seems as good a time as any to offer some unsolicited advice for those beginning their real estate careers.

A great deal of written and verbal career advice identifies developing a good work ethic, building career-long relationships, and networking with other professionals as the key drivers for achieving a successful career in sales. No matter how the business world may evolve in years to come, these truths will never change over the course of a person’s career. Personal connection is at the core of all three beliefs.

However, no one seems to be discussing today’s increasing reliance on the “easy button” in communicating and developing these relationships. Personally I do not believe the reliance on “new tools” will bring people together—the logic seems to be misplaced. Today’s communications technology, from emailing and texting to interacting on social media, are essentially impersonal forms of communicating. It’s easier to pretend to communicate when all you are doing is relying on easy keystrokes and clicks to contact and connect with colleagues, clients and potential clients. As these electronic communications become ubiquitous, they are actually increasing the separation between people, and making it harder to develop life or career-altering relationships.

Years ago, I heard a successful business development leader ask his audience whether they were “in business” or “playing business.” I laughed at the time, but his question has resonated with me for years. I am convinced that taking business seriously and working at it in all possible ways is much more effective than “playing” with attractive, but time-stealing, new technologies. Email replaced the personal touch, because it’s easy. Fear of rejection is less when the communication is via email. Our natural tendency to look for the easy way, however, can stymie the growth and development of those who are new to the business.

When I give career advice, my inner Bill Belichick takes over, and I tell beginners, “Do the work.” There is no question in my mind that career success comes only when you work hard. The work a beginner needs to do is a mixture of different ingredients. I define my perfect recipe with five key elements:

  1. Knowledge: you keep up with market research and innovations in your field.
  2. Reliability: your word is your bond.
  3. Tenacity: you pursue alternatives and don’t give up easily.
  4. Quality: you strive to do your very best work.
  5. Trust: you are always honest and clear with clients and co-workers.

Use your time and your youthful energy to do extra research in your field, talk to the experts, put in the time, and earn the trust and respect of those whose lives and work you touch.

When hiring, I look for candidates with “how” minds, not “now” minds. The “now” mind won’t put in the time to develop, and, typically, will wither on the vine. The “how” mind likes puzzles (assessing this is one of my “go-to” interview questions). The person who enjoys the challenge of a puzzle is one who is thinking, solving, and developing solutions. An inquisitive nature is vital to success in this business, because it means you are motivated to learn, develop your craft, and become a valued resource of knowledge.

This is the “easy” button: Put in the work, earn an MBA in your specialty, or increase your knowledge through on-the-job training, and outwork your competitors. Easy—right? When you bring an open mind and want to be a sponge for growth, the world will change and make way for you. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

All any of us have to offer is our time, talent, and treasure. Use your time wisely, and, even more important, use the time of others with even greater thought and consideration.

Frank McCafferty is Executive Managing Director and Co-Branch Manager at Davills Studley in Dallas.


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