Getting deals done is only half the battle when you’re a commercial agent. Securing clients who are willing to place their six- or seven-digit investment in your hands is the primary obstacle to success in this field. While building a strong clientele can be a tedious and slow process, it can be expedited by putting yourself out there for all to see. As your name begins to occupy significant space within commercial realms you will find more and more opportunities to attract clients.
1. Post Your Profile on Commercial Databases
Both professional organizations like Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and listing services like LoopNet allow qualified agents to add their contact information, specialties and résumés to their databases. This is an easy way to gain exposure to millions of viable clients who turn to these sites and their search engines when they’re looking to buy, sell or lease.
2. Utilize Your Firm’s Marketing Materials
All of the major commercial real estate firms have agent support staffs that can assist with your promotional needs and marketing materials. Talk to your firm’s staff about your options, which may include the creation of a marketing kit, portfolio, direct mailer and your own webpage within the firm’s website. A large firm’s resources can be invaluable because you don’t have to pay out of pocket for these sophisticated marketing materials or for the database of leads it has acquired over the years.
3. Create Your Own Website
If your firm does not offer support services, or if you are an independent agent, you need to establish your own online presence. This should include a website that details your services and expertise, and a blog that positions you as an expert in your marketplace. You can develop these yourself if you’re comfortable with copywriting, search engine optimization (SEO), HTML code and blogging software. If not, hire a site designer and copywriter who can create the initial content and show you how it’s done.
4. Participate in Social Networking Sites
Social networking is a free and easy way to go beyond your intimate circle of friends, family and acquaintances. It allows you to reach their friends, family and acquaintances, and so forth. Sites like Facebook help you make new connections with potential clients by suggesting new “friends” based on your profile, affiliations and current friends list. Twitter offers a micro-blogging platform upon which you can advertise your market thoughts, clients’ needs or successful deals to interested followers. LinkedIn lets you connect exclusively to your desired business communities where you can share and receive vital information among your network of associates.
5. Establish Yourself as an Authority
Offer yourself as a source to relevant news outlets. This may include local, trade and niche publications that cover your particular product type. E-mail a brief introductory letter to relevant editors outlining your affiliations, experience, specialties and market thoughts. Be sure to include your contact information, as well as the best way to reach you. Providing readers with your thoughts and advice on the market is an ideal way to build trust with businessmen and investors you’ve never even met.
6. Ask a Successful Broker to Mentor You
Many well-known, seasoned brokers are so good at their jobs that they have more clients than they can handle. They also have a wealth of knowledge that could propel an agent’s career. Get to know some of your firm’s outstanding brokers. Find one that you respect and admire, and try to form a mutually beneficial relationship with him or her. Ask the person to mentor you, and offer your supportive services to her or her team when the workload is heavy. Over time this person is likely to include you in deals, giving you access to key commercial clients.
7. Seek Out Clients
Agents who wait for clients to come to them fall by the wayside. Instead, find clients wherever you can. Review listings from eBay, Craigslist and the commercial real estate section of your newspaper for sellers who may need help moving their properties.
Contact the current owners of desirable buildings to see if they are in the market to sell or expand their portfolios. You can obtain their contact information by visiting the tax assessor or county clerk’s office in the county where the property resides. Commercial listing databases like LoopNet, CityFeet and CoStar are full of clients who already have representation, but these sites can keep you informed of key market trends and players, which can be useful in the future.