The following is adapted from Syndicating Is a B*tch.
Until you do, though, you can’t stop marketing yourself and networking. That means you need to pay attention to how people see you. The simple fact is that people will form an impression of you based on how you carry yourself.
You can show up however you want to. You can decide not to give a shit what anybody thinks and let the cards fall where they may. It’s stupid, though. You’re going to limit your pool of investors significantly if you do that. Here are some guidelines on how to present yourself for best results.
Dress the Way You Want to Be Perceived
The bottom line is that there’s a uniform to most professions, even if it’s not explicit. We know what to expect from someone who is successful at what they do. This doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit, but at least get yourself a nice pair of pants, a decent shirt, good shoes, and a nice watch. You’re trying to convey success and that you are someone to be taken seriously, which is hard to do if you look like you just crawled out from under a bridge to get there.
The concept of “dressing for success” is cheesy as hell, but I have to reluctantly admit that it’s true. Dress to instill confidence in people. If you’re sponsoring a syndication deal, you want them to entrust you with their investment and money. Look like someone worthy of their trust. When you make your first impression, when you meet with them after they reach out to you, and when you conduct yourself in public everywhere in between, carry yourself like a professional who people can trust and want to work with.
If an attorney on your case came to your house to do a personal visit, how would you expect him to show up? How comfortable would you feel if he drove up in a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle with a door missing, wearing shorts, ranting about some political issue, and all-around behaving like a tool? Your subconscious would be screaming Danger! Something is very wrong here! That’s how people will look at you if you don’t have your shit together.
Can the Bullshit
As a syndicator, you can potentially make an amazing difference in your own life and the lives of other people. That doesn’t mean you get to ride into every meeting you attend on a high horse, acting like you own the place.
Sure, you want to be confident. But don’t be a dick. Confidence doesn’t mean smugness. The decision to do a deal doesn’t mean you have a leg up on anyone else, and acting like you do won’t help your cause. Have presence in the room, shake hands firmly, mix and mingle (when COVID-19 allows for it again 🙂 —without being the arrogant center of attention.
Don’t be overly political, religious, opinionated—don’t be a fist-pounding zealot about anything. To me, that signals someone who is irrational, hot-headed, and aggressive by nature. Is that someone I want to do a deal with? Nope.
That doesn’t mean you need to be vanilla or completely without a personality. I don’t mince words. I’m always going to cuss, I’m always going to be straightforward. That’s who I am by nature. But I’m not going to be polarizing. I might say fuck a lot, but it’s never directed at anyone, it’s just part of my vocabulary/parlance. People work with me because I’m honest, professional, and I know my shit. Carry yourself like that, and you’ll make the connections you need to. People can feel or see through your bullshit facade, so just be genuine.
On the flipside of being arrogant, it’s possible to go too far the other way and become too tentative. That’s the problem I had, and it made networking massively difficult. Outside of the internal drive to do the damn thing regardless of how nervous you are, the best way to get comfortable networking is to practice.
Practice what you need to say, and practice at as many events as you can get to. Come up with your elevator pitch and run through it until it’s second nature. Go to the events even when it’s not comfortable. You’ll get better at it every day, but only if you’re practicing every day.
Lay it out. Know what you’re looking for. Rehearse it in your head. Confidence doesn’t mean you’ve done it before—it means you are being smart about it as you learn, and you are prepared.
When someone asks what you do, be clear. “I’m a syndicator.” Period. When someone asks what you own, be honest. “I don’t own anything right now. I’m looking for my first property.” If they ask a question that you don’t know how to answer, own up to it. “I don’t know, but I will find out.”
That’s confidence, and it doesn’t step into arrogance, either. Don’t be that guy. Just know what you’re trying to do, and set out to do it.
You’re Working for People, Not Against Them
When you’re figuring out how to present yourself, it’s essential to realize that you’re looking to collaborate with others to create something bigger than you can create alone. Remember, you want to make money for all of these people. Not from them. A byproduct will be your own handsome reward, of course, but that’s just a piece of it.
A good syndicator can have a large and positive impact on the world. Our smallest deal right now has forty-four investors in it, and our largest has one hundred. Assuming each of those people have a three-person household, that’s hundreds of families who are breaking out of that traditional path and securing their future in a better way.
Not to mention all the people I hire along the way, or the hundreds of families living in the properties that I improve and maintain while we own them. Every single deal adds to the thousands of people that are affected by the work that I do. Ultimately, the way you present yourself is not about you. You can be someone else’s way out and up, and profit from the deal at the same time. That’s a damn good reason to make a bit of effort.
For more advice on presenting yourself effectively, you can find Syndicating Is a B*tch on Amazon.
Known in the real estate world as the Apt-Guy℠, Bruce Petersen is a serial syndicator who started with a 48-unit building and has now syndicated over 1,100 units. As the founder and CEO of Bluebonnet Asset Manager LLC and Bluebonnet Commercial Management, Bruce has received local and national recognition for his syndication efforts. He was the recipient of the Austin Apartment Association’s Independent Rental Owner of the Year for 2016 and the National Apartment Association’s Independent Rental Owner of the Year for 2017 as well as the Think Realty Mulfifamily Investor of the Year for 2019 . In addition to being a TV personality and public speaker, Bruce also mentors people on how to invest in apartment complexes.
(Royalty-free image: https://unsplash.com/photos/MYbhN8KaaEc, credit: Unsplash / @huntersrace)