As business owners, we are constantly in pursuit of the most productive and meaningful ways to contact new clients. I’ve tried the usual methods -- BNI groups, real estate events, mailers of my most recently sold properties, even cold calling. While some of these are useful and have been successful, I could not shake the feeling that the process was flawed for me. It felt draining and against my nature.
The gallery gives me a setting to interact with people in a way that is authentic to me.
Having been a professional musician since I was a kid, with a college minor in Art History, I found my creative nature having a challenging time making peace with my role as a “successful NYC real estate broker.” About three years ago, my wife opened an art gallery in the East Village, an idea she had been toying with for years given her background immersed in the visual arts. We both recognized the many challenges involved in this type of venture. She had often said “my gut never fails me but I can sometimes fail my gut.” It has always been my belief that when you don’t honor your gut – that’s actually when you are taking the biggest risk. We decided to take the financial and personal gamble in spite of resistance from several friends and colleagues.
Over time I began to see that the gallery gives me a setting to interact with people in a way that is authentic to me. It allows me to move beyond a “here’s my card” mentality to one where I can nurture true relationships. Believing that breaking bread has always been a powerful way to introduce like-minded individuals, we began hosting dinner parties -- something I’ve done my entire adult life -- in the gallery garden as a way of building community. Nothing makes me happier than when I can introduce people who can assist each other to reach their individual goals.
I see many of my colleagues looking outward for an environment that attracts high net-worth individuals and then trying to adjust their personalities to fit that environment.
Over the three years since the gallery opened, I have experienced significant and often unanticipated positive changes in my real estate career and personal life. It wraps together my passions in one environment -- passions that I have been naturally drawn to my whole life and that form the cornerstones of my personality. The gallery attracts the kind of people with whom I will most likely resonate, and by being immersed in elements that are authentic to me, I create an environment that sets me apart from other brokers in the city. My clients have another way to relate to me other than as “real estate agent,” creating a bridge between us that allows me to really get to know them and better serve their needs.
The gallery has also taught me patience. Personal needs and discovery are always in flux in real estate and in the gallery. What a client initially thinks they want may not necessarily be what they ultimately purchase after being exposed to options they had not considered, just as someone may initially be attracted to a particular artist but ultimately decide they resonate better with another. You cannot serve your client if you work only from preconceived assumptions… either yours or theirs.
The correlation between passion and success has never been clearer to me. I see many of my colleagues looking outward for an environment that attracts high net-worth individuals and then trying to adjust their personalities to fit that environment. I’m learning to focus outward from inside myself, to create a world that is unique to me. By doing this I feel natural and passionate about my life and business, and that allows me to genuinely connect with other people.
My attention to detail and understanding the potential of a residential or commercial real estate investment earns me clients, but the gallery allows me the opportunity to explore other dimensions of that relationship in a way that better targets a client’s real needs. I know I’m headed in the right direction because I’m already on home territory. Networking becomes effortless when you are authentically in the moment and present.
Matthew Steer is a licensed real estate broker with Keller Williams in TriBeCa.
Our featured image is a work by Paul Inglis, whose solo exhibition is currently on display at Turn Gallery, through April 15th.