According to research, writes Nikki Beauchamp, by aligning yourself with those who complement your skill set and creating a systematic approach to networking, you can add targeted leverage to your real estate business.

I recently read a Harvard Business Review article titled “Surrounding Yourself With Colleagues Who Boost Your Performance.” It got me thinking about how applicable it is to what makes events like Inman Connect so valuable. 

According to the research, there is no one-size-fits-all to building a network: Different people benefit from different kinds of networks. The challenge is figuring out what works for you (and that sometimes it’s counterintuitive to what you might think).

Success in the dynamic and competitive real estate industry is often attributed to individual skills and the strength of one’s professional network. In pursuing excellence, surrounding yourself with colleagues who boost your performance becomes crucial.

There are many pathways to do this, so let’s look at the importance of identifying your cognitive style, mapping your network, and maximizing the complementarity premium. I think you can apply this to building a network that suits you in infinite ways, similar to the many varying business models in the industry.

Step 1: Identifying your cognitive style

Understanding your cognitive style is the first step toward building a network that enhances your performance. In the real estate industry, where adaptability and diverse skill sets are paramount, individuals often possess unique strengths and preferences. Some may excel in analytical thinking, while others thrive in relationship-building and negotiation.

Identifying your cognitive style involves deeply assessing your strengths, weaknesses and preferred work methodologies. Are you more inclined towards data-driven decision-making, or do you thrive on interpersonal skills?

Knowing your cognitive style helps you align with colleagues who complement your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses, creating a well-rounded, high-performing team.

Actionable tasks

  • Conduct a thorough self-assessment to identify your cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
  • Seek feedback from colleagues or mentors to gain external perspectives on your working style.
  • Use personality and cognitive assessments to gain insights into your preferences and tendencies.
  • Develop a personal development plan to enhance your strengths and address areas that need improvement.

Step 2: Mapping your network

Once you’ve identified your cognitive style, the next step is to map your professional network. In the real estate industry, networks extend beyond traditional office colleagues and may include real estate agents, brokers, developers, investors, and other industry professionals. Creating a comprehensive map allows you to visualize the strengths and expertise of each connection.

When mapping your network, consider experience, specialization and geographic location. This step helps you identify gaps in your network and areas where you may benefit from collaborating with individuals who possess skills or knowledge you lack.

A well-mapped network ensures that you have access to diverse perspectives and resources, enhancing your ability to navigate the complexities of the real estate market.

Actionable tasks

  • Create a visual representation of your professional network, including colleagues, mentors, industry partners, and other relevant contacts.
  • Analyze the strengths and expertise of each connection to understand their potential contributions.
  • Identify areas where your network is lacking and actively seek out new connections to fill those gaps.
  • Attend industry events, conferences, and networking functions to expand your professional circle.

Hot Tip: Events and communities like Inman, your firm, your brokerage network and other professional and affiliated organizations can be great ways to fill gaps. Using available tools and information — social media, books, podcasts — there are many ways to connect to thought leaders potentially.

When planning to attend an industry event or make connections, your “advance” scouting will be helpful and make it feel less overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time.

Step 3: Maximizing the complementarity premium

The complementarity premium is the added value of collaborating with individuals whose skills and strengths complement your own. In the real estate industry, where successful transactions often require a combination of analytical prowess, negotiation skills, and market insight, maximizing complementarity is key to boosting overall performance.

Look for colleagues whose cognitive styles align with your identified preferences but who bring additional skills and perspectives. For instance, if you excel in market analysis but lack strong negotiation skills, seek out colleagues who thrive in the negotiation arena. This strategic collaboration not only enhances individual performance but also contributes to the team’s collective success.

Actionable tasks

  • Evaluate your existing network to identify colleagues with complementary skills.
  • Initiate collaborations with individuals whose strengths fill gaps in your own skill set.
  • Foster an environment of open communication and mutual respect within your team to encourage collaboration.
  • Establish a culture of knowledge-sharing and skill development within your organization.

In the fast-paced and competitive world of real estate, the power of a solid professional network cannot be overstated. You can thrive in a collaborative and high-performing environment by following the three-step framework identified by Harvard’s researchers — identifying your cognitive style, mapping your network, and maximizing the complementarity premium.

As you surround yourself with colleagues who complement your skills and fill in your knowledge gaps — like those you’ll find at events like Inman Connect New York — you boost your individual success and contribute to the overall success of the entire network.

Nikki Beauchamp is an advisor with Sotheby’s International Realty in New York City. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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