If you haven’t heard by now, finding a commercial property management thought leader online is pretty much a crapshoot. You just won’t find many out there.

But rather than continue to wonder where all these great, forward-thinking CRE professionals are, I thought I’d take a stab at providing a resource for getting started. You can think of this post as a “How to Become a Property Management Thought Leader: 101” of sorts.

Here are 8 things that can help you stand out in your field:

  1. Know your audience

    Thought leadership is an engagement game. To be an effective property management thought leader, you have to know who you’re talking with. And the use of “with” instead of “to” is crucial here! The end-goal is a two-way conversation.

    Consider: Are you trying to reach a particular job role or industry group, or is it some other niche?

    This matters! You wouldn’t address a property owner the same way that you would address a tenant employee, or an industry journalist, would you? Probably not.

    When you target your key demographic wisely, you’ll understand more about them over time, and be better equipped to handle this next property management thought leadership focus tip.

  2. Understand their needs

    To engage your audience, and ultimately create value for them and your organization, you need to understand their needs.

    What are some of the most common questions, concerns, and situations impacting their lives on a day-to-day basis?

    Don’t overthink it. You’re not always going to “just get it.” You’ll always be in a state of flux when it comes to understanding your audience, so it is especially critical that you remain alert, constantly listen, and be nimble. Commercial real estate and property management are changing, so you need to be ready to change with it – or better yet – lead the change!

  3. Research how they gather, share, and find information

    If you’re going to put forth a great effort – any effort – into creating unique and insightful content to engage your target audience, you need to know about existing behaviors.

    Where do they find content that is useful to them? Email, blogs, or print media? Something else? What does it take for them to want to talk about or share information?

    For those of you looking to target tenants in your property, you can consider asking light questions during your periodic meetings or through regular tenant satisfaction collection periods. If your elevator event listings are being ignored, maybe try a different method!

    The more you understand these behaviors, the better you’ll be able to directly identify weaknesses or lapses in existing conversation or distribution. It will also help you identify areas in which you can become more of an expert, by reading, watching, and listening to related media.

  4. Get social, and start working with influencers

    This one is tough right now.

    In fact, just a short time ago we only found about 15 property management thought leaders and influencers of note in commercial real estate visible on social media or actively blogging. (Though many of you have spoken up and shared a few more, and thanks for that!)

    To get started, consider your audience. Each social media network has a particular style or tone of voice that is unique to it, and it’s up to you to determine which is right for your content. You can check out our quick guide to getting started with social media which should set you on the correct path.

    Then, take a few moments to see who is already out there.

    Evaluate: who they are, what they’re saying, and who they’re saying it to. And if you know of people who are “offline thought leaders,” let them know they should put themselves out there by blogging and getting on social media.

    Your influence can only get stronger from there.

  5. Provide interesting, “thought-provoking” conversation

    So you know your audience, understand their needs, have a feel for how they get and use information, and you’re talking with influencers. The next thing you need to do is, well, say something new!

    Be big. Be brave. Be bold. You need to make a name for yourself, and bring something new to the table. Ruffling a few feathers is the name of the game – within reason, of course.

    Duke Long, the “grandfather godfather” of CRE is a great example of this boldness. He provides colorful, but insightful, input on all things commercial real estate. Some people love him, some hate him, but most importantly – they listen and engage with him. That is your ideal goal.

    So be “thought-provoking,” and show a little personality!

  6. Develop a multi-channel distribution strategy

    You’re got the knowledge. You’ve got the content. But where are you going to put it?

    Answer: Hopefully, right where people are going to see it!

    A multi-channel distribution strategy is something any aspiring property management thought leader should consider, because it optimizes the ability for content discovery and engagement. But what does that mean, exactly?

    Let’s say you have a tenant portal or website for tenants.

    They go there to request work orders, see the status of work, etc., but for right now that is about it. But perhaps you already have that elevator signage announcing really cool property events you’re running.

    What if you put that information in the tenant portal? Then you’d have two places for tenants to find out about your cool event! And while you’re at it, could you add it to your property blog or social media accounts?

    The more avenues for content distribution, the more visibility you’ll likely have. Especially if you cater your content for each!

  7. Nurture your relationships

    We’re all about (tenant) relationship management here at Building Engines, but it is also crucial to nurture and manage the relationships made through conversations started by thought leadership and networking.

    So how do you do that?

    Start by just being yourself – being a human being. People want to feel like they are a part of something, and they want to feel like you are listening. So listen, share, and collaborate! And do it often.

    Your network will only grow, and so will your knowledge of commercial property management!

  8. Embrace the latest tools and tech

    You want to be seen as the de-facto commercial property management thought leader, but maybe you’re still using out-of-date tools and technology. What kind of message does that send to your audience? Answer: not the right one.

    It’s time to be honest with yourself. Are you a CRE Tech Laggard?

    Consider the signs that a lack of (modern) technology is holding you back, and think about some of your day-to-day workflow pain points.

    1. What could you do to help streamline the steps it takes to get something done?
    2. Do you struggle with effectively prioritizing tasks and distributing them?
    3. If you lack data to make smarter decisions more quickly, where could you get said data?
    4. Are communications between you, your team, and tenants the very best that they could be?
    5. Could you and your team be more nimble, and more mobile?

The fact is, your being branded as a “commercial property management thought leader” depends on much more than hyping yourself with talk. You also have to walk the walk!

And that means being the best at what you do. Being on top of the latest tools and CRE technology can help you stay ahead of the curve.

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