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It's Who You Know

Of course, what you know is also important, but humans are social. Building a network is critical in any professional field. Networking takes patience, because often the ROI can be slow going. You have to be in it for the long run and the right reasons – people usually know when you’re not. So, if it’s a long game, who should be on your team?

As a broker, my clients come from many different industries and cultures – from startups to property owners and lawyers and doctors to CBD shops, manufacturers, churches, and schools. Commercial real estate innately puts us in the middle. The nature of our business connects us to people from many different industries and cultures.

Over the years, I have learned the importance of having a broad network. If you were to chart your network, what percentage is in your industry? Your culture? How does it compare to non-related industries and people not of your culture? Here are my five payoffs for intentionally diversifying your network:

1. Meeting people from other industries and cultures can expose you to new ideas. A diverse perspective can help you grow professionally and make your business thrive. Some industries adapt and change faster than others. Much can be gained by thinking in a new way.

2. Industries are often intertwined and rely on each other. When I moved to CEG full time, I needed to mine my network to get certain parts of the business off the ground. I called on my tech, marketing, and veteran connections. (I think even my dog helped!) Knowing them allowed CEG to get up to speed much quicker. They learned about CRE, and I learned more about their fields. That knowledge has definitely paid off, not to mention, it makes life more interesting.

3. A broad network provides a safety net. Think of it as career insurance. If you find yourself needing to make a change, do you have people that can help you? As the old saying goes, “Don’t put your all your eggs in one basket.” Someone outside your field may have a connection to lead you to your next career path. That support can also give you the confidence you need to make the jump. And that’s a huge ROI to have in your back pocket.

4. By talking, listening, and asking questions in social settings, you can learn more what clients care about, their struggles, and other industry trends. Perhaps you have solutions or the connections with solutions. That knowledge can also influence how you operate. One-on-one connections build trust. And as we know, trust (Shorts: It Changes Everything and Question) is a dividend that keeps paying.

5. Connect with people that move in different circles than you. The larger and more diverse your network, the more you’ll learn, grow, and gain access to other diverse networks. However, it’s important to be genuine and respectful in your approach. It’s another example of building trust.

If you find yourself needing to broaden your network, there are a few things you can do right away. Join a local networking group or BNI. Pick another industry and go to their professional development and networking events. Finally, reach out to your current network and ask for introductions. Don’t look for immediate returns but take the steps necessary now to build your networking team. I’m here to help if you have any questions (612-788-1552 or

Jeff Salzbrun is the owner and broker of Commercial Equities Group (CEG). As a veteran-owned real estate brokerage, CEG has been involved in thousands of sale and lease transactions, ranging from single offices to 250,000+ square foot buildings. At CEG, we get your deal done. We know space, and we know the CRE business.

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