This was a busy week in real estate networking for me. I had the pleasure of being asked to convey my experience as a mentee to the Diversity Committee and the incoming 2016 mentee participants of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors. As I listened to the introductions of the key innovators of the Diversity Mentorship program, I realized that as part of the inaugural group, I am apart of Atlanta commercial real estate history. They attempted to implement this program a few years ago but the Board could not move forward due to the lack of support. It is sad that the necessity of these types of programs was once not embraced. If you are an individual who doesn’t believe that the diversity programs are needed, read the August 2013 Commercial Real Estate Diversity Report-2 published by CREDiversity.com.
It was great to meet the next group of mentees who have similar professional aspirations. I’ve learned that I am enjoying sharing my journey and that there is so much more to come. I listened to people who have been in the business for 30+ years or who some referred to as the Jackie Robinson of Atlanta Commercial Real Estate, such as Mr. T. Dallas Smith, who was one of the first African-Americans to integrate into a large firm as a Broker in Atlanta.
I also went to a CREW sponsored event for students where I met attorneys, female executives and representatives from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Coca Cola, The Shopping Center Group and many more. These women offered up so much wisdom about their respective positions and experience in commercial real estate. I was especially elated to meet the recently appointed CEO and President of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, Lisa Gordon. I coincidently had just read about her in a recent news article. Prior to this position she was the COO of the Atlanta Beltline. Lisa was very candid about her experience and how she excelled in this segment of real estate.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of interviewing the applicants of the 2016 class of the Real Estate Associate Program as it returns to Atlanta this year. There was a high demand because there hasn’t been an offering of the program in years in this market.
After interviewing 11 of the many applicants, I was impressed by the incoming pool of people with diverse professional experiences. I’m sure the Spring class we be an enlightening program for all. Volunteering to interview the candidates provided an opportunity to meet other REAP alumni. I met one of the sponsors of the program, Mrs. Pam Smith, who was the first African-American women to graduate from Georgia State University’s Master of Science in Real Estate Program. Several of my fellow alum had varied experiences from the head of a major retail corporation real estate department to a director of huge retail/office development in Atlanta.
Real estate is so relational. Expanding my network this past week has been priceless. I have an opportunity this week with a particular company and I was able to get an introduction via LinkedIn from another REAP alum in California to an individual who works with that organization for some insight. Yes, I could’ve reached out on my own but it was so much better to be introduced to this person by a respected professional, who was also a friend. The phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” still rings true and can make all the difference in whatever your professional goals are, so get out here and expand your network!