The stakes are high in commercial real estate—we’re talking about millions of dollars in a routine deal, with long-term implications that can make or break companies putting it all on the line.
Being knowledgeable about the workings of the market are essential. Professionals who want to succeed must do their homework.
But there’s also something a bit less obvious that often plays a decisive factor in who gets deals and who gets left out in the cold: taking a sincere interest in those you are dealing with.
That truth was voiced last week by industrial real estate leader Mark Goode, Principal of Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Venture One Real Estate, LLC.
Offering some counsel to up-and-coming professional panelists at a meeting of the Chicago chapter of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Goode said the business impact that stems from taking a sincere interest in other people should not be underestimated.
“When someone asks what I do for a living, or why I’m successful…my job for many, many years was to go to a meeting and make the person comfortable,” Goode said. “Because if someone’s not comfortable with you, they’re not going to do business with you. A lot of it is making them laugh, learning about their interests—sincerely.”
Goode’s remarks have broader application across all industries but particularly in the public relations and marketing world.
He didn’t have time to delve into all of the ingredients that he draws upon to create that comfort level, though his statement touched on a few crucial ones: having a good sense of humor and taking a sincere interest in the other person.
From my nearly 30 years as a journalist and publicist, what follows is an elaboration on those pieces as well as other pieces of that “comfort puzzle.”
(In creating this list, by no means should you infer that I have it all figured out—or even that I embody these traits all the time. On my good days, I might practice a majority of them sufficiently well so as to help produce generally favorable results.)
Here are four qualities, of 8 Traits That Inspire Trust and Confidence in Business, that have proven to be indispensable allies in my career:
Have a good sense of humor
This does not mean you crack a flurry of one-liners or long-winded jokes. Instead, it’s honing the ability to see the humor in the everyday stuff swirling all around or happening to us all the time. Self-effacing humor is a plus, as long as you don’t descend into self-flagellation. That inspires awkwardness and discomfort—two business buzz-stompers.
Brad Duncan, an Amway Crown and longtime leader with World Wide Group (WWDB), is an absolute genius in this department, regaling audiences with hilarious stories in which he often bears the brunt of the tale. Amid wide-ranging impersonations, physical humor and a knack for delivering belly laugh-inducing punch lines, just as quickly Duncan can skillfully insert a business or human relations principle that he has embedded in the story.
Take a sincere interest in the other person
In college, a friend of mine (who, incidentally, went to become a successful lawyer) shared some career advice that he said his father had given him.
“Son, the secret of success is sincerity,” he said, quoting an oft-repeated one-liner. “Once you have mastered faking that, you’ve got it made.”
It’s intended as a joke, of course. However, there are undoubtedly those who have taken the cynical remark to heart and do all they can to apply it in their dealings. They may be able to fool some people some of the time, but their efforts are a shadow of the real thing and over time their insincerity will creep through.
Identify and establish common ground
I don’t mean some cheesy, “You’re a Bears fan, I’m a Bears fan too!” type of commonality. It could be something as basic as a shared empathy for the challenges of juggling family and business, or a history of coaching youth sports, or attending the same university.
Whatever it is, enjoy the moment but don’t linger too long on it. It’s the garnish to your burgeoning relationship, not the main course. Move on to the bigger picture—and display a breadth of experience and skill that suggest you would be an asset to them in business.
Know—and quietly ‘own’—your value
This is understated confidence, where you simply know from experience and prior victories that you have something valuable to offer. Let your website and other marketing pieces do all the chest-thumping for you, then augment that with an occasional, relevant anecdote or insight.
In these interactions, focus on drawing out the other individual and learning what makes him or her tick. Listen intently and seek to understand fully where they are coming from.
Few traits are more attractive, or compelling, than being in the presence of someone with a whole-hearted interest in who you are and what you are striving to achieve. Work to become that person.