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Make yourself seen and heard - and argue for your value

NAREIM Black Real Estate Roundtable, key takeaways

March 27, 2024

Make yourself “seen and heard” by ensuring you add value to an organization – and then always make sure to “argue for your value”.

As more than 60 NAREIM members and friends gathered in NYC for the Black Real Estate Roundtable this week, industry leaders shared their lessons learned as they progressed to the senior ranks and C-suite: Including by creating their own opportunities and value.

During the Roundtable, members discussed careers, mentoring and networking – and how to confront feeling unseen or racist and derogatory actions. “Growth, change and advancement usually require periods of being uncomfortable,” senior leaders said.

One leader retold how they dealt with being kept out of deal meetings, and only included when an underrepresented ethnicity was required. “I started cold calling, I started talking to as many people in the industry as I could and I started to get my own meetings,” they said. “When that happened people started to take notice.”

“You make yourself seen and heard. You make sure its value add. When you are adding value to an organization, they cannot not see you.”

Attendees at the Black Real Estate Roundtable, hosted at the Jamestown-Google-James Beard Foundation Pier 57 arts and culinary community center in NYC, were also told that to in dealing with overt and unconscious racism, they had to have uncomfortable conversations.

As one member said: “If you are not having periodic uncomfortable conversations about how opportunities are allocated, how you are promoted and how you get compensated, then I can guarantee you are underpaid.”

Other key takeaways from the roundtable included:

  • It's not impossible to get to the C-suite, but it takes a village. You cannot underestimate how important that community is.

  • Build your community through informal networking - a lot of the "magic" of business and career progression comes from building your network inside - and particularly outside - the company.

  • When you are losing confidence, go back to your network, your pseudo and personal board of directors.

  • Show up as yourself. It helps you connect with people in a meaningful way. And be your authentic self. You don't need to change who are to be successful in this industry.

  • Argue for your value. Prepare the ground, get your mentors and sponsors involved and test the water - tactfully and thoughtfully, but argue for your value.

  • If you are going to have tough conversations, make sure someone is involved in that conversation, someone who has your back, either a mentor or sponsor. You need someone more senior, or further ahead of you, to help you navigate the journey, who will help you and speak up for you when you are not in the room.

  • The broken ladder is real, however face the issue by asking how you can repair the ladder - or create your own ladder. That is often achieved by relying on your community and network.

To access the live poll, click here, and for the attendee list, email Sanyu Kyeyune:

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