269: The Value of Networking in the Real Estate Industry – with Adam Collins

Meet Adam:


Adam is a managing director and MGA, a specialized commercial real estate firm structured to support the growing needs and concerns of occupiers of commercial real estate. Adam provides expert consultation and analyzing and executing solutions aimed to reduce their client’s overall facility expenses while maximizing workplace efficiency and productivity. Never representing institutional landlords, MGA is one of the few firms that eliminates any conflict of interest from representing tenants and landlords. 



So you are in Washington, DC. What makes that region special to you?


I think a lot actually. So my family has been in this area, we actually just found a newspaper article from earlier this year about my great great grandfather. It’s just a story about him when he came to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1875. So we’ve been here for such a long time. I’ve got a lot of history and a couple of different stories. My great grandmother has a post off is named after her, we’ve got schools named after her family. We’re not from a whole lot of money or anything like that, but it was just community involvement with both the civil rights movement and just general activity in mentoring younger people. So it’s been a great region and area for me and it’s been my second home for a long time. About eight to nine years ago, I moved here permanently.


So let’s talk about commercial real estate right now. What has the pandemic done and what does it mean for commercial real estate in the future?


Yeah, I think that it’s no secret, a lot of people are having success working remotely. Now, whether or not that means more business, they’re going to go 100% remote, I don’t think from the executives I’m speaking with, I don’t see that happening, especially to those businesses that have a good number of employees. They’re still going to have an office presence for the most part. You might have the four people per thousand square feet now, I mean, does that drop down to two or three people? How many people are going to fit into your office and how much is it going to be utilized? Still, the question that I think a lot of executives are wondering is, what does that mean for their footprint and what does that mean for their operations? So I think most executives are still asking those questions amongst their employees, and we’re helping them create a strategy to offer their real estate based on some of those answers to the questions.


So let’s circle back to relationships here a little bit. How do you manage the new relationships as well as the old ones?


Yeah, my life is based on relationships, and cultivating relationships. What I do is I keep a bit of a tracker, in terms of understanding the relationships that I’m building every year, and I’m adding on to it. I’m a member of a couple of different network marketing organizations. As you know, when we used to go out and shake hands, meet people and collect business cards, instead of just simply putting in the pile, and then you know, maybe in a few years, you ring them up and say, “I need some help with something,” I try to create a system to where it’s more intentional. I’ve got a top 100 list of people that I like to keep in touch with who aren’t prospective clients of mine, but they’re just referral partners. They’re people that can help grow my business and then I can also help grow their business or they’re your trusted advisors to where, if my client needs a referral, they’re on that list. Then throughout the year, I’m making sure that I’m reaching out to those people, once a quarter, in different ways. Sometimes it’s an email, sometimes it’s a call, sometimes it’s a handwritten note or some sort of physical mailing to those people, just to make sure that we’re staying in touch, and I’m staying Top of Mind with them. Also to really take that networking meeting that generally a lot of people don’t get a lot of value from, and make sure that you extract all the value from that by building lasting, incredible relationships.


Can you share with our listeners, one of your most successful or favorite networking stories or experiences that you’ve had?


One of them was about four or five years ago. I went to this event, and I met a really nice set of brothers. It was a whiskey and cigar event that I had been invited to through somebody in my network and he said, “Hey, there’s gonna be some business owners here, why don’t you come in just enjoy the night,” and so I did. Then I met these three brothers and we just got to talking and they mentioned they were interested in buying a property for their business or possibly even buying an investment property. So, you know, continue to carry on the relationship and at least once a quarter doing something of value to them to inform them on the real estate market, because I knew that at some point in time, but this is going to be, you know, four or five years away from when they’re ready to purchase. At least once a quarter keeping in touch with them, whether that be a personal connection, or sending them something in about the real estate market that’s of value until they’re ready to buy. Then finally, this summer, they did end up purchasing a property, about three and a half million dollars or so. Looking back on having developed that relationship for five years, it worth it, and I still consider them to be friends of mine, even if they weren’t clients.


What’s great about that was you were just going to meet some new people and get to know them. But then you fostered a relationship and there was a positive outcome for you. But your goal when you attended that event was not to sell three and a half million dollar property, right?


Exactly. Sometimes networking events, you know, historically, outside of COVID get to be exhausted, right? If you’ve already done two or three that month, and that’s kind of it. If you’re the kind of person that just needs to sit back and relax, it doesn’t seem like the most fun thing to do. But if you do go out to that event that you do, try and form at least one valuable relationship, whether that be with somebody that is going to be a prospect or a client of yours, or somebody that you can help in either direction, whether they’re helping them grow their business, or you’re helping them grow your business. To form that meaningful connection with somebody does pay off because what I found is, the more advocates you can have, the better you’ll be. You’ll never know where that next referral is coming from and the fact that I’ve been able to build up kind of like an army of advocates across the region, that I can say, “Hey, do you know this CFO? and the person says, “Oh, yeah, of course,” and then next thing I know, I’ve got a glowing email introduction to the exact person I’m trying to meet. I’ve just been able to cultivate the relationship to where they do trust me. So when the time comes, they’re more than happy to make that referral.


So what advice would you offer that business professional who’s really looking to grow their network?


I would say that it’s not always about quantity. A lot of times, like I’ve been saying, it’s about the quality. So you don’t have to go to every single Chamber of Commerce event. Here, in the D.C. area, we’ve got maybe a dozen different little chambers of commerce throughout our metro area. You don’t have to go to every single one, but when you go, or if you go into a BNI group, or if you’re going to be a part of any sort of networking group is to get involved in it and some sort of level that’s deeper than just being a member. Really trying to find out, can I be on the membership committee, or can I be, you know, on the Events Planning Committee? How do I get more involved in this organization to form a deeper relationship with the five or six of the people on that committee, because that’s going to pay off in my experience a lot more than simply going and handing out business cards to everybody.


If you could go back to your 20-year-old cell phone, would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?


I would tell myself to be more focused. Early on in my career in real estate, there was a lot of different interesting opportunities, and you kind of run around, chasing a dollar. Just like, I can close this deal, or I can do this or that, you know? But I think that over the long run, it certainly pays off to be hyper-focused. For me, I’m hyper-focused on office space tenant representation or representing the occupiers of real estate, even though there’s a lot of different facets to commercial real estate that I could veer off into or step into. Being focused really does pay off in the long run, it increases your income, save you a lot of time, wasted energy, and heartache, I think as well.


So we’ve all heard of the six degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you’d love to connect with, and do you think you can do it within the sixth degree?


The person that I would love to connect with is not necessarily a business person, it’s my hero is Peyton Manning. He’s just been my hero since he started playing for the Colts in 98. So that would be my dream connection. I’m a firm believer in six degrees of separation. I think that if I were to try hard enough and dedicate enough time, I’m sure that I could find a route to Mr. Manning, but I don’t know that I’ve got the time or energy at this very point in time.


Do you know where you’d start?


Where would I start? That’s a good question. I actually did play high school football with a couple of people who made it to the NFL. So I’d probably start there and then look at who they know. I’m sure that might be one of the quickest routes to it. Where else would I start? Actually, I know the route. It’s a friend that played for the Giants and Eli Manning played for the giants. So he’d be more than happy to introduce me to Eli Manning and obviously if I can get to Eli, I can get to Peyton.


Do you have any final words of advice for our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?


I just think don’t be picky or choosy about who you’re connecting with. Everybody’s got different job titles, and everybody wants to first say of what do you do for a living and how can you help me. But especially in this world of entrepreneurship, or real estate, or whatever it is you might be doing, it’s not always the person that you think that’s going to lead to a great introduction or meaningful relationship. So go out there and connect with people and build genuine relationships and the money will follow.


Connect with Adam:


Email: acollins@mgaco.com 


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adam-collins-commercialre/