Introverts Who Learned to be Successful Networkers?

BBA18's picture
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 574

I'm a very introverted guy who goes to a lot of networking events that are facilitated by my school, ULI, or local (North Texas) CRE industry groups. I work hard to become a better networker, but I'm not making much progress. I'm at a higher-end non-target that has an incredible CRE alumni network, so I'm wasting a lot of time and money if I can't take advantage of it.

For other monkeys who are/were introverts and learned to become successful networkers, I'd really like to hear your stories and some things that helped you go from the guy who stood to the side to the guy who worked the room.

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Comments (28)

Apr 12, 2017

Hit the gym/get in shape is important--it drastically improves self confidence. Eat right too. You'll have more energy. Play the student card--it is an incredible time for you do to so as you won't be looked as an employed guy trying to change jobs. Ask questions and be genuinely interested. Prepare before meetings so you're not asking things you could look up online in 2 mins time. Make it a point to remember people's names. Take interest in what they do at work, but also outside of work. Lastly, a teacher of mine told me that it's 'who knows you' rather than 'who you know.' I completely agree with this--it's one thing to get 100 business cards at a networking event, but what are the odds any of those people will remember you a month later if you email them? Spend time perfecting your 30 second elevator pitch--I'm sure threads on here about interviewing can help you out if you've never heard of this. Lastly, set small goals each day and work towards them. Tell yourself that you are going to start a conversation with 'X' strangers tomorrow, and then add 1 the next day, and so on. Soon, you'll build a habit of talking to strangers and find that it comes even easier when you're talking about a fun subject (real estate).

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Apr 13, 2017

I agree with cpgame, first things first, being physically prepared will keep you mentally prepared. If you don't like hitting the gym 24hr Fitness style, sign up for some boxing 3-4 days a week. I train boxing and Muay Thai 4 to 5x a week and I'm not the same person without it. I still lift a day or two a week. It calms me and helps me make better decisions with the rest of my life.

One of the most successful guys I knew early on in my real estate days was a very average sales person. But his follow up and diligence was the best. Yes, being an extrovert can help, but there is no skill greater than fantastic follow up.

You'll meet a lot of people over time. The key is for you to have their number, not for them to have yours.

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Apr 14, 2017

I've been lifting for years, and I met with a local developer who struck up a conversation with me one day because I wore my old college shirt and he was an alumni as well. He even took me to lunch one day to talk about my career and see if he could help me find a job.

The gym is a great place to network period, I met a friend who now takes me to salsa nights at clubs to wingman girls (to no avail yet though)

Apr 20, 2017

There's a Head of Fixed Income and asset allocation that is always in the news in my gym. I need to build up the coverage to chat with him. Don't know how to break the ice though...

Apr 20, 2017

Ask him what was the ROIC on his diet/routine/lifestyle.

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

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Apr 12, 2017

you don't need to know every person on earth. a good network does not have to be 500 people. some of the most successful guys I know in the industry are NOT gregarious loudmouths and are in fact the opposite.

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Best Response
Apr 13, 2017

I'll echo quality over quantity. LinkedIn accounts with 1600 connections are great and all, but they are worthless if nobody will actually make the introduction for you/be your reference when you need it.

My advice is to find a friend to go to events with and use him/her as a wing person. Don't be anti social and walk around the entire event the whole time together, but say the event is an hour long, break it up into 4 smaller networking sessions. Spend the first 10 minutes together surveying the room (see who you know and who you don't). Then split off on your own and go talk to people. Come back half way through and compare notes for 10 min. Then split off again - go find the people that each other talked to that sounded interesting. You can use each other as a reference, "my friend John met you earlier and mentioned...something you found interesting that somewhat applies to me so I came over to talk to you." That way you have a warm intro and reinforce your friend's network. Win-win.

Or if you don't want to split off again at the end, you can decide who you want to reintroduce each other to and go do that. Like you met an Associate from XYZ and he met a VP from QXY. You both are interested in those other shops so you cross introduce.

You will be surprised how many times this will make for an after event drink invite, which is where you really get to know people.

Note: if you steal my technique and I see you using it on me, while I approve, I reserve the right to not fall for it ;)

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Apr 17, 2017
mrcheese321:

I'll echo quality over quantity. LinkedIn accounts with 1600 connections are great and all, but they are worthless if nobody will actually make the introduction for you/be your reference when you need it.

+1 sb

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Apr 13, 2017

My advice: skip those events. From my experience, they are filled with a bunch of junior brokers trying to get listings, or a bunch of "business development associates" from civil engineering/real estate related consultant firms looking for leads.

Decide what you want to do in CRE, then simply reach out to people in the industry for coffee or a quick chat over the phone. Ask them how they got into the industry, what they do now, advice they could give to someone young and in your shoes. This cultivates a more personal relationship with someone, rather than exchanging business cards at an event. Always ask if they reccomend anyone for you to reach out to. This approach also allows you to follow up with them in the future: "hey Bill, we chatted a few weeks ago about X. I noticed that a similar firm is hiring, do you have any insight on that firm you can share, or reccomend anyone I should talk to from there?".

Example of how this worked for me: I was 23 years old at the time, and wanted to shift into a new market (that I had no connections/network in). HFF was hiring in my target market, and I did a LinkedIn search nationwide to find anyone at HFF who either went to my school or was in my fraternity. Found a senior broker from LA who was in my fraternity back in the 80s. I emailed him out of the blue playing on that card, and asked him if he could spare 15 minutes for some career related advice. He was happy to talk to me, shot a personal email to the HFF MD in my target market for an informal intro, and I got an interview. I didn't get the job, due to lack of debt/equity experience, but I do not believe I would have been offered an interview without the referral.

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Apr 13, 2017

What do you mean lack of debt/equity experience?

Apr 13, 2017

At the time I was coming from a position that supported leasing and investment sales brokers. The HFF position was focused on their debt/equtiy placement business line. I think my lack of experience on the debt/equity placement side, paired with my unfamialarity with the market did not make me a top choice candidate. The important takeaway is, however, that I was able to claw in an interview, rather than submit my application and cross my fingers.

Apr 13, 2017

Networking has goten me calls with MDs from at least 30% of the REPE top 50 funds.

My biggest advice would be to try and get them to relate to your position. People love talking about themselves, ask about their time in college and journey to where they are now, what they do for fun, beer, girls ect hahah.

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Apr 13, 2017

This is going to sound crass and off-base, but how is your sex life?

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Apr 13, 2017

Networking isn't about being Mr. Popular at the party. You're really just talking shop with people who are in the same industry as you. In the beginning, you are just trying to know the players. As your relationships develop you can start benefiting each other (sharing information, referring deals, etc).

I'd start out going to industry events. Make sure you always have business cards. If you meet someone you think might be a good connection, hand them your card and connect on linkedin.

IMO, good networking is about helping people and seeing how things interconnect. I literally have LinkedIn up all day at work, send out thank you notes to everyone I meet and put them in outlook for later. You are building a network that will be invaluable as you get older so don't rush it.

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Apr 13, 2017

You should follow my empirical guideline strategy to impressing your interviewers and other superiors. It received smashing reviews...
https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/do-you-ever...

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Apr 13, 2017
LReed:

You should follow my empirical guideline strategy to impressing your interviewers and other superiors. It received smashing reviews...https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/do-you-ever...

HAHA. Cutting people off during dumb questions or boring stories, that is actually hilarious. Real estate is an industry that's dominated by alpha dogs like yourself so I think this is a good play.

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Apr 13, 2017

I'm part of the North Texas ULI group and would recommend trying to get involved with one of the committees are volunteering wherever you can. This really gives you good face time and relationships just happen without you thinking about it. Also, are you going to the Young Leaders Group events? These I feel are much easier for networking than their speaker events.

+1 on the post event drinks

Apr 13, 2017

Thanks for the advice guys.

Blake, I actually heard about the Young Leaders program at a ULI author event a couple of weeks ago. It's something that I am actively looking to get involved with.

TNA, networking being about helping people is part of the difficulty. I'm a UG student and have a hard time thinking of ways that I can be helpful to successful people in the industry. For the guys who are already successful, how have students been able to help you (beyond being employed by you)?

I come from down in the Valley, where Mr. when you're young, they bring you up to do like your daddy done.

Apr 14, 2017
BBA18:

TNA, networking being about helping people is part of the difficulty. I'm a UG student and have a hard time thinking of ways that I can be helpful to successful people in the industry. For the guys who are already successful, how have students been able to help you (beyond being employed by you)?

i've always thought this was bullshit. There are people who will tell you that there are ways you can add value if you are creative but let's be honest, who needs or has any interest in help from a college kid who's never worked in the industry? Maybe somebody's hiring and you don't want that job and you know another young guy who might want that job, I suppose. Stuff like that might come up occasionally. But I don't think there's any shame in accepting that 9x out of 10 as a student trying to break in you are just asking 100 people for help/charity and hoping for progress. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Apr 14, 2017

jiu jitsu helps even the most self doubting, shy, introverted people gain a lot of confidence

Apr 17, 2017

I went from super shy to quite extroverted. I also went from 155 to 230 pounds at 6'5 in the meantime. My new confidence allowed me to network my way into interviews with Google/FB/Uber/LinkedIn/MBB/various BBs.

What worked for me:
1) Read Dale Carnegie's how to make friends and influence people (I read it four times now I think)
2) Speak to two strangers a day. Whatever happens. If you make comfortably make conversations with strangers is awkward settings (train stations at 3am are tough), networking chats are a cakewalk
3) Make a consistent effort to improve your social skills (if you can present/speech/hit on that hot girl, don't dither and seize it)
4) Put in consistent effort in your appearance. Not just lifting and nutrition (altho invaluable in my case, few people take skin and bones seriously), but also dressing/skincare/hair.

It won't be an overnight change, but I guarantee you that if you commit to these things people you haven't seen in a few years won't recognise you.

Apr 17, 2017

let The Liquor do the thinking

I AM THE LIQUOR

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Apr 20, 2017

I just told myself not to be a pussy, and get the other person talking/interested. Nobody gives a shit about your struggle to find a job/what you want to be in 10 years. Talk about things that the other person is interested in (how they got to where they are now, for example). Let them talk/reveal more information to you, which will help you guide the conversation. Get their name/contact info, and follow up with email.

Apr 20, 2017

This is a great thread.

Apr 20, 2017

For me, a lot of it was just practice and going out. I had a regular crew of wingmen where we didn't just go out together: we would actively critique and motivate each other's interactions at night,

Finding the right mentor also helped. I learned a lot from the old shows (OLD, circa 2008-2012) from a guy named player supreme. His show went downhill after he fell for some race siting but the old stuff is gold and I highly recommend. He's more focused on dealing with women(and the only "guru" who gives off the I impression that he actually understands human interaction) but a lot of what he teaches in the area of conversation and active listening applies to networking.

If you have a REALLY hard time..... try playing Dungeons and Dragons or some other RPG.

No. I am not shitting you. I know some other folks who did and they've all said that playing D&D and having to act out in the role of another character did wonders for both their social skills and their storytelling ability. If you think that you don't ever act out as a character then I think you're full of it. Everyone wears some kind of persona as a mask in public, let alone during networking and interviews.

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Apr 21, 2017

I have no connection to the networking events or how to address them, per say. If you need help on initial contact, I may be of some help. I had that issue before, but it is slowly going away. I hope what I say can add some solution to your problem.

I started opening doors for random strangers, held the elevators, let people go pass me while doing a quick "hello" conversation. Keep it small and short, if it extends furthest the most should be a name exchange. What does this is it builds up your self confidence in eye contact and posture position.

Hopefully this can at least build your initial conversation so you can feel more relaxed when you are around others. I have made many new friends from all backgrounds just by a simple conversation. Good luck!

Apr 21, 2017

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