The Real Deal New York

Esther Muller Working…Outside the Office

October 15, 2007
By Esther Muller

In this column, I’ve consistently emphasized how important it is to have an investment strategy for yourself, whether it’s to build your career or safeguard your future. You need to plan how to put your money to work for you, because Social Security is no longer a guarantee for a secure retirement.

But investment strategies for your time have a greater impact on your career, and a smart real estate professional neglects them at his or her peril. Many brokers get so caught up in their day-to-day business operations that they don’t take the time to consider less traditional ways to build those businesses. Believe it or not, leaving the office for a few days – or even for a few hours – can help you generate additional listings.

“Getting out of the office is one of the most important things that you can do to grow your business,” says Pamela Liebman, president and chief executive officer of the Corcoran Group.

That time away can be spent at seminars, industry trade shows or charitable functions. Or you can take a vacation and escape from the daily grind. “If you spend all your time at work, you’ll burn out and get stale,” says Ms. Liebman.

“Out of the office, you’ll expose yourself to fresh ideas, meet new people and come back to work energized, armed with new concepts that will help you get to the next level,” she said.

Ms. Liebman should know. She estimates that she spends about a third of her time away from the office. She is involved in several charities, is a member of various professional organizations, attends golf outings, and speaks at numerous business and alumni clubs.

Never underestimate the value of personal contact. “Outside the office, you get to connect with people on a totally different level,” she says.

“You learn about each other’s commonalities. You begin a relationship and build trust. And the person will remember you when he or a friend or a family member is looking to buy or sell a property.” She says you’re building a new client network in the easiest possible way.

I religiously attend trade shows and conferences on both coasts. I’m always trying to absorb information like a sponge and network with other business professionals, many of whom I might not have ordinarily met – or who would not have met me – if I were back in the office. By “working” a conference, I get a solid grasp of emerging trends and what’s happening in markets outside of New York – all of which I use to my advantage or my client’s.

Many brokers are resistant to taking time off, fearful they will lose business. “I tell this to everyone – if you take time off from business, a deal will happen,” says Ms. Liebman. You need to empower your assistant or team members by allowing them to operate the business while you’re away.

Everyone will win in this situation – you create a healthier balance between life and work, and your staff can stretch their talents and build up of professional self-confidence. And through the joys of technology, you’re always only a mouse click or a phone call away. I promise you that your business will not collapse if you are away from it for a couple of days.

So, it’s August. What are you waiting for? Grow your business by getting away from it – everyone will prosper.

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