During Cameron Bice's time as an affiliate broker at Tenant Base, he’s closed 60+ transactions for $15M+ in gross lease/purchase and was frequently recognized as a top performer. He is currently pursuing his CCIM designation, and is the 2020-2021 Vice President of the local BNI (Business Networking International) Chapter. He moved to Nashville after graduating from The University of Alabama where he studied finance and economics with a specialization in real estate. Cameron is known for his advanced networking skills and was kind enough to share some insights with us.
Q. Pre-COVID what did your networking schedule look like? How has that changed?
A. I was averaging 3 events per week, my weekly BNI meeting and 1-2 other meetings stemming from BNI or other networking opportunities. Monthly, 3-5 one-on-ones from general networking or cold calling, 1-2 real estate related events, and 2+ “larger group” (non real estate) events.
COVID has changed people’s willingness to, and focus on networking. Most professionals have not been focused on growing their network or business, but rather on their employees and surviving this period. However, I’ve seen an increase in people looking for networking opportunities over the past month and think that trend will continue in Q4.
Q. What’s your primary objective when you attend a networking event vs a 1-on-1?
A. I take a long-term approach to networking. CRE decisions are infrequent for most people or businesses. I go into these scenarios with the hope of creating or growing relationships rather than pitching someone on why they should work with me.
For a networking event, I want to introduce myself to as many people as possible while remaining intentional in my conversations. Depending on the event size, I want at least 2 connections to follow up with.
For a 1-on-1, I want to connect on a personal level (interests, experiences, family, etc.), but if the conversation steers into business I’m prepared to talk numbers or opportunities. When you successfully network, you are not only networking with that person but you are opening doors to their network as well.
Q. How should young professionals entering our industry grow their network?
A. Focus on being intentional and thorough. There are many facets to the industry, think about where you want to end up and ways to get there. I get weekly calls or LinkedIn messages from people my age interested in the industry but the vast majority do not follow up which makes those who do stand out. If you are new and connecting with people already in the industry, have well thought out questions and do background research on them.
Q. What should young professionals in CRE focus on to advance their career?
A. You can work harder than others, or you can work smarter. I recommend you do both. A lot of positions will be commission-based or commission only so your time is extremely valuable and you might have to eat what you kill, I intentionally network at least 5 hours per week, read 10+ related articles on a macro and micro level daily (each), listen to podcasts or e-books weekly, and study the industry outside of tenant rep. leasing.
I highly recommend finding at least one mentor within your office as well as a mentor outside of your firm. Nothing trumps experience in commercial real estate and every deal and scenario can be quite different, so having that insight is a huge advantage. I accredit much of my success to my principal broker, Tad Wood (TenantBase), who has acted as a mentor and attributed to much of my development as a broker.
Q. What tools do you use for networking?
A. I’m a big fan of face-to-face meetings and networking events so getting out to put a face with the name is helpful but difficult right now. LinkedIn Premium and Sales Navigator are great tools for this, but make sure you don’t send double-message automated invites.
After your first meeting or call, the follow up is essential. LinkedIn is a great tool for this. Google Alerts are also a great way to keep up with companies / people; you can save keywords and Google will email you when they are in the news. Then shoot them the article with a “congrats” message.
Q. How do you see the industry evolving?
A. Technology will continue to greatly change the CRE industry in the next 5-10 years more so than previous decades. Tech will improve how properties are marketed and managed and how deals are transacted. COVID-19 has been a driving factor for trends that were already in motion. Locally, the industrial market remains extremely hot and I believe last-mile storage, refrigerated warehouse space, and retail focusing on e-commerce will continue to grow.
Q. What are your interests outside of real estate?
A. I like exploring the Greater Nashville area and trying new restaurants that have been coming on the scene as well as attending live music shows or sporting events. I am also drawn to anything outdoors or on the water.
Q. Why Nashville?
A. Being from Birmingham I knew I wanted a larger market. Nashville is rapidly growing and fits my personal lifestyle well. I wanted to start in brokerage but as an unlicensed recent college graduate, I realized opportunities would be scarce. I thought to myself, “what is the most difficult sales role I can take on while learning the geography of the market, making local connections, and securing my TN license?” That led me to take on a sales position with Comcast. So, with few connections and somewhat on a whim, I made the move.
After several months, TenantBase had a Jr. Broker position and the timing worked out perfectly. I was definitely “drinking from a fire hose” at first and I still have so much to learn about the industry so I take an approach that focuses on hard work with learning and networking being main priorities.
TenantBase, Inc. is a unique brokerage in the “PropTech” space that uses proprietary technology and tools to transact deals, primarily representing tenants to secure leases. It was founded in Nashville in 2014 due to the large and growing need that business owners and decision makers have in needing representation and guidance throughout the leasing or purchasing process and has rapidly expanded into 12+ markets across the U.S.
To learn more about TenantBase visit www.tenantbase.com
CRE615 is a networking group for Nashville’s next generation of commercial real estate professionals. To learn more visit www.cre615.com