Larry Genet is a Senior Vice President at CBRE, Inc., focusing on sales and leasing of industrial and office properties in South Florida.
I vividly remember what it was like being a junior broker. I was hungry for success but lacked experience and had a lot of doors slammed in my face. It was an extremely challenging time and I failed a lot.
Despite the setbacks, I kept grinding and learned from my mistakes. Over time, I honed my skills, built relationships and established a name for myself. I currently co-lead one of South Florida’s most dominant commercial real estate teams, and now that I am on the other side, I dedicate a great deal of time to mentoring junior brokers who stand where I once stood. As a mentor, I recognize the value of offering guidance, answering questions and providing insight from a senior broker’s perspective. I also create valuable content on social media platforms advising brokers on how to find success. The feedback has been overwhelming, and mentorship has truly become a passion.
Here are my top eight pieces of advice from a commercial perspective (that can absolutely be applied to residential as well).
1. Join a top firm in the market. A top team will show you how the best of the best get it done. Whether you join in a paid or unpaid role, you will learn quickly, gain access to the top players in the market and start building relationships. A top team will open many doors for you. Plus, they are likely busy and have overflow business you can pick up.
To find a top team, check the multiple listing services and track who has the most listings in your area. Or, simply Google local real estate articles and see which teams are quoted. Cold call the teams and convey confidence, provide value and then convert fear of change into excitement about you as an opportunity for them. You may wonder, “What value do I have to offer?” Tell them you can cold call all day long, conduct showings for smaller projects, put together broker opinions of value (BOVs), organize or build a database and find tenants to fill current vacancies. Most importantly, be willing to work for free if you are able to do so part-time while you pay your bills elsewhere. Frankly, the experience is more valuable than any class you can pay for in school.
2. Add value to the team. There are two main ways to add value to senior brokers:
• Give them back their time. Take on tasks that brokers do not have time for or do not want to do. Follow up on listing inquiries. Volunteer to write letters of intent (LOIs) to tenants who have toured spaces. Call brokers to remind them of vacancies and promotions. Organize marketing reports. Schedule marketing call updates. Draft marketing action plans, LOIs, contracts, BOVs and requests for proposals. Get up to speed quickly so you can be less of a burden and more of an asset.
• Bring in new business. Knock on doors and cold call more than anyone else. Develop systems to improve follow-up with clients. Improve on lists for email blasts and mailings. Get creative to identify the best lead resources.
3. Forge your own path. The older generation of brokers has a certain way of doing things. They may have seniority and experience under their belts but lack out-of-the-box thinking or an understanding of new technologies. Absorb advice given, but also know that you can formulate your own approach. Keep in mind that people are creatures of habit. Rocking the boat with new approaches could unsettle some people, so find a balance between respecting their ways and innovating.
4. Outwork everyone else. Be the first one in the office and the last one to leave. People will say things like “there is too much competition” or “the area is saturated and there are no deals.” Ignore them! They are not looking hard enough. Outwork them and keep searching. In this business, hard work pays off.
5. Go where the action is. Your best bet for finding a listing is to identify the area where the most transactions are happening. Check the multiple listing services (MLS, LoopNet, CREXi, etc.) or, if you are at a larger firm, consult with the research department so they can show you how to find the information you need. You can also call the county and ask for public records of sales. Define your market and target it. Do not shy away from the markets that are busy — that is where the deals are hiding.
6. Forge relationships with brokers, tenants and owners. Relationships are everything in this business. Be kind to everyone and be open and generous with your time. Pay attention to what they need and try to provide it to them. For example, reach out personally to make sure an owner received the marketing information. Buy a tenant lunch after closing a deal with them. Call clients regularly to check in and ask if they need anything.
7. Go after the bigger deals. Junior brokers tend to get intimidated and shy away from the bigger deals. Do not sell yourself short — be aggressive and do not fly under the radar. Go after the big deals and once they’re identified (or an initial meeting is agreed to), you can count on your senior teammates to come in and close the deal until you have the skills to do it yourself.
8. Build a pipeline. A deal is never really done; it just transforms into another opportunity. Sell land and then work to get the leasing for the buildings that are constructed. Sell buildings and advocate that your team leases them. Follow up with tenants and see if they have outgrown their space before the lease is up, referencing another deal in the area. There are always more opportunities.
Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?