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Build relationships before you need them

NAREIM Black Real Estate Roundtable key takeaways

Atlanta, March 30, 2023

We all know relationships are important, but for black professionals in real estate investment management it’s absolutely critical to advancing careers and opportunities.

That was the key takeaway from NAREIM’s second Black Real Estate Roundtable meeting hosted in Atlanta this week – including the need to build relationships before you need them.

During keynote conversations and a professional development workshop, almost 60 NAREIM members gathered at Ponce City Market to discuss career strategies within the industry. During open Q&A and roundtable sessions, members discussed mentoring, sponsorship, career pivots and lessons learned.

“Don’t take your relationships for granted and understand the power of relationships,” said one keynote speaker. “Build relationships before you need them. It’s a simple philosophy. You never know down the road how that relationship may be important for you.”

The meeting also included a professional development workshop, where members discussed results from individual personality tests taken prior to the meeting and how their personality traits impact the people around them. Attendees had to talk about their career anchors, the personality trait that best represented their motivations, avenues for growth and how they want to be recognized.

  • People raised how they were guided by a pure challenge philosophy, seeking out impossible challenges and where winning was everything.

  • Others spoke to the need for security and stability, and how they knew they didn’t want to manage people, but excel at doing their job.

  • One member highlighted their trait of service and dedication, encouraging people around them to do better and be more.

However, with black and African American professionals representing less than 7% of the commercial real estate industry there are career development hurdles facing each individual, including: tokenism, a sense of isolation, imposter syndrome, less access to wealth generating roles in CRE – and a lack of psychological safety.

For NAREIM members attending the Black Real Estate Roundtable though the following advice was shared:

  • Be intentional in relationship building. Go to lunch, follow-up, talk with people internally and externally to the organization and expand the pool of people to talk to. As one keynote said: “Fish in different locations.”

  • Keep networking and building relationships so that you can find someone to be your advocate, your sponsor.

  • Sponsors don’t have to look like you. And it can be powerful when they don’t.

  • Do more than just your job. Show the curious mind to managers and your organization.

  • You are the only person who can take care of you. You cannot build a super structure if you don’t have solid foundations. You are not locked into something you cannot change. You have got to find joy and pleasure in life.

  • Invite analysts to sit in on every call. “I want them to hear what we are talking about, to absorb,” said one member.

  • Have two phones, one for work and one personal. Keep them separate.

  • Your level of self-awareness has a direct impact on how others think about you. Understand the power of belief in what’s possible in yourself.

Thank you to Jamestown for hosting NAREIM and the Black Real Estate Roundtable at their offices in Ponce City Market. 

NAREIM members can download the presentation and attendee list, by clicking here. Note, access is only allowed for NAREIM members with a NAREIM website account. 

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