10 Real World Examples of How I Built My Commercial Real Estate Network.

I started simply looking for the groups and associations that I already had and affiliation with. My state commercial board. NAR because I had already made several connections over the years. CCIM,SIOR,IREM,BOMA etc. Why connect? Hell, why go to the meetings and get on the conference calls, why volunteer?

1.What are the relevant commercial real estate communities of interest?  What are the needs wants of the participants within these communities?

I started simply looking for the groups and associations that I already had and affiliation with. My state commercial board.  NAR because I had already made several connections over the years. CCIM,SIOR,IREM,BOMA etc. Why connect? Hell, why go to the meetings and get on the conference calls, why volunteer? I needed build and cultivate a network. Online connection was a revelation. I would listen learn and ask simple questions. The needs and wants were pretty obvious.People wanted to connect to make deals. But then something interesting started to happen.Human interaction.

2.Participate where your presence is advantageous and mandatory, don’t just participate anywhere and everywhere or solely in your own domains (Facebook,LinkedIN, Twitter conversations related to your brand, etc.)

Seems pretty obvious does it not? Let me give you and example. I do everything in my power to eliminate and and all feeds emails discussions and spam from lenders. You say What? We need that lender connection. Not me. All and I mean all they do is spam and pitch. How does this help me or my clients. You would think lenders pitching brokers is a natural fit. Wrong. Go find the client before they get to me and leave me the hell alone. The “we only are taking clients in the 30-75 mil bracket ” pitch is total bullshit. So, your are in commercial real estate who and where should you be ? Start-ups, Logistics Companies, Medical Associations,Industrial Data Centers…let your brain flow.Maybe some other brokers also they need to know what your stuff is but not in a spammy way!

3. Determine the identity, character, and personality of your commercial real estate brand and match it to the persona of the individuals representing it online.

Persona? Did I write that? Handing it off the the intern/pr department is death. It will come out and come out in spades. I know of a company in Canada (who shall remain nameless) that did just that and then guess who that “person” called to get advice about creating and online commercial real estate brand? ME. They admitted that they had no idea what a commercial real estate brand should be doing online. But hey they were getting paid.My answer: Good Luck, I’m a broker! Not that I was not willing to help…but if they were actual brokers/commercial real estate people I would be more than willing. You are the identity you are the character you are the personality you are THE point of contact. If not, then what in the hell did they hire you for?

4. Embody the attributes you wish to portray and instill – operate by a code of conduct.

I knew from the very start that whatever came out from my brain to the keyboard and out into the world I would just have to live with. Do I want to be perceived as an semi idiot,fake,uneducated,inexperienced hack. Of course not. Some may think so. The risk involved was great and scary if I am honest. I have been in this business for many years and certainly have learned and respected a professional code of conduct. One which I am quite proud to be a part of. Does that mean that opinions and points of view are held back. Not by me that’s for sure. The risk may also involve others perceptions of your conduct compared to what they have traditionally held as a standard. Beware and be prepared.

5. Establish meaningful connections.

Should I just leave that statement alone? Too simple? It will take an serious amount of time and effort. It is called work. Helping sharing linking retweeting,actually talking to someone the phone or god forbid in person. Why else start the connection or conversation online?

6: Become a true participant in each community you wish to activate, move beyond marketing. pitching listings and sales.

If you are for example actively involved online and off in a medical association group the last thing that the community will want from you is “the pitch”. I have been to some events where I have actually received flyers of listings and full color fold out brochures of a companies entire history. Guess where it ended up. Yes, in the trash can..on the way out the door. The community already knows who and what you are. Help the medical association with what? They have stated goals and no doubt need help getting to them. Show your willingness to push it forward online and off. My personal little thing is the local start-up scene. They ask kajillions of questions and I try to answer them all. A quote from one of the members” What is a commercial real estate broker..really?’ “I thought they just wore suits and talked like my dad.” Gotta love the youth.

7. Don’t just listen and placate — do something!

OK, well you do need to listen.I have personally sat back and bitched about hundreds of subjects in commercial real estate.Which ones are worth fighting for? The more I stand up and scream the bigger the community reaction and the stronger the community. Take the lead and be willing to stand on the soap box and take the hits.

8. “Un” campaign and “Un” market by becoming a resource to your communities.

There is absolutely zero reason to campaign or market. I said ZERO. If you are truly a resource…the business and opportunities come out of the woodwork.  Not only do you not have to ask, people will call and email and call and email and call and DM.

9. Give back, reciprocate and recognize notable contributions from participants in your communities.

How many lists have I created? Top 50 commercial real estate people to follow on Twitter. Top 39 commercial real estate people to connect with on LinkedIN. Top 23 commercial real estate blogs. 39 Blogging tips for commercial real estate. 10 most influential online commercial real estate people. All of these lists have generated thousands of hits on my website. Was that the goal? Of course not. Each one of those individuals are truly contributing to a community. I appreciate and respect the time and effort and contributions they make to the community. Has it come back to me? Please!


I get the question almost daily in some form or another…What does it take to build my community? The answer is Consistency! Do the things that I have outline above on a consistence basis and the world is literally going to want to come and make you part of their community and help you build your commercial real estate network..

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryan_orr/

Duke Long

  • Bob

    About the only thing I would add, as pertains anyone’s network, and especially yours, is to “stay positive”.

    Despite your more than occasional rant, and in fact within them, you manage to imbue a sense of optimism. Not silly smile-about-everything, the-world-is-rosy, and I get-up-in-the-morning-singing, optimism, but realistic, hey-this-economy-sucks-but-the best-will-stand-the-test type, that leaves your readers, and no doubt your clients with a sense of this-guys-nuts-but-he-knows-his-shit type of calm and confidence.

    All of us inmates at the asylum are big fans.

    • Bob,
      The only comment that I have is that your new avatar is very….sexy!

  • Great read. I love your articles about networking. They always boil down to the same things; hard work, consistency and be genuine. I’m a “younger” commercial real estate broker in Miami and went from corporate CRE to an independent within the last year. It’s definitely been an adjustment learning to brand yourself and not rely on the name on the door, and actually put yourself out there. I love reading your articles, they’re full of the things we NEED to be learning early in our careers.

    • Gabriel,
      MIAMI…the Cuban Festival….Oh the stories….Thanks for commenting…Preach it out to us all…I do love this business.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Duke. I especially like number 8 which is something I have been trying to focus on. Business owners in my market have been slow to adopt social media and i’m trying to bring them along and get them into the conversation. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff…

  • Gary

    I might add one point to building a network. It seems many in the commercial real estate field are not tech savvy, no surprises there. But it is amazing how many don’t even call you back on the phone. Nobody is so busy that they cannot return phone calls, especially in this market. Pick up a phone, talk to someone….

  • Giovanni_Isaksen

    Duke great post. Somehow I missed it last year but just found it on Klout of all places, ironically karmic. I’d like to guest post it on my blog if that’s cool. Thinking of calling it: “The Ten Commandments of Building A Network, Online or Off, Commercial Real Estate or Anywhere”.