Ways For Women To Network In Commercial Real Estate
According to Commercial Real Estate Women’s (CREW), more women are holding partner and managerial positions than ever.
Commercial real estate as an industry hasn’t ever been extremely popular with women. However, according to Commercial Real Estate Women’s (CREW) most recent Benchmark Study Report: Women in Commercial Real Estate, more women are holding partner and managerial positions than ever. Which is encouraging, but is the information as readily available about how to pursue a career in commercial real estate as residential?
Last year, only 35 percent of commercial real estate positions were held by women. Is that low number due to lack of exposure that women have to the commercial real estate industry? Since commercial real estate requires excellent people skills along with an advanced level of business knowledge, one would think that women would be successful in this arena, given that it takes the balance of a firm hand, sharp mind and gentle touch. How else can women supplement their real estate knowledge to expand into the commercial realm? Answer: Get ‘em while their young.
CREW offers classroom programs all over the country that are made to specifically appeal to 9th through 12th grade girls and introduce them to the world of commercial real estate. The intention is to start the kids at a young age in order to, “…improve gender and racial diversity in the industry. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight,” said Laurie Baker, CREW president.
In addition, CREW has working relationships with students of all ages who are interested in entering the CRE workforce, all across the country. In Dallas and North Carolina, there’s been a major push to reach out to young women to expose them to this area of the industry. There are specific commercial real estate programs available now at the University of North Carolina, and options in education are expanding exponentially and all over the country.
If you’re beyond college age and want to begin, or expand into a career in CRE, you may need to dig a little deeper than looking in your local newspaper or online newsletters to find a good gig. It’s all about that dreaded word: networking. Networking is the key to developing your career and increasing your breadth of knowledge. But where and how can women get started? Here’s a few steps that may be helpful.
Start by making a list of everyone you know in the real estate game. Start a career database, set up meetings with these people and simply talk to them. Sometimes networking with people who don’t do exactly what you do is a helpful tool. If you want a job in development, reach out to some architects and get their perspective. If you’re at a social function, ask for business cards and be at the ready with yours.
Don’t forget to send a follow up e-mail the next day. Whatever you do, don’t chat about politics or your divorce, or your mother’s hip replacement. Do read up about who’s going to be at a specific function on that company’s website and come armed with names.
Another great tip is to join professional organizations such as:
NAIOP – National Association of Industrial and Office Properties: NAIOP is a national association with more than 11,000+ members that represent the interests of developers and owners of industrial, office and related commercial real estate throughout North America.
IREM – Institute of Real Estate Management: The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) is a source for education, resources and information for real estate management professionals. With 82 U.S. chapters, seven international chapters, and several other partnerships around the globe, IREM is an international organization that serves as an advocate on issues affecting the real estate management industry.
SIOR – Society of Industrial and Office Real Estate Specialists: The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors is a leading professional commercial and industrial real estate association. The SIOR Network includes more than 2,800 members in 480 cities in 20 countries on six continents. The Society has certified almost 2,300 of its members with the prestigious SIOR designation, a professional symbol of the highest level of knowledge, production, and ethics in the real estate industry.
No matter how many ways you network, remember there’s people out there who want to mentor and help. Reach out and ask questions, and surely someone will have an answer or connect you to someone who does. It’s a risk worth taking because at the end you may find your dream job.
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