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Want to Grow Your Personal Brand? Start By Giving.

April 3, 2012 at 8:30 am
Colleen Poynton

Post by Colleen Poynton, Manager of Business Strategy and Development at Investing In Communities

You’re still in real estate. Still. As in – still after one of the worst downturns an industry has ever seen, you’re still in it. Why?

Why do you do what you do? You help people purchase and sell property. You help companies find the right space, or landlords find the right tenants.

If you stuck out this recession, the odds are decent that your job isn’t just a paycheck.  There’s a reason you do it. When was the last time you shared that reason with a potential client?

“People buy things from people they like and can relate to.” This great insight is from an article by Lambeth Hochwald over at Entreprenuer.com. Simon Sinek puts it another way – “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Let’s translate these observational statements into actionable business strategy: If you want to establish trust, loyalty, and a productive business relationship you need to create a connection with potential clients.

Hochwald’s article offers several good recommendations of how to build that connection, but point #4 may be the most critical, and I think, the most frequently misinterpreted: “Talk about yourself.” You probably already do this – sort of. You tell clients all about your expertise, your past success, your certifications, client endorsements, etc…etc…

You tell them how you’ll meet their real estate need, but do you ever tell them why?

Perhaps you love to help create strong, vibrant business districts in your city. Perhaps you have a passion for homes and interior spaces – for their idiosyncrasies and personalities. Perhaps you’re a life-long resident of your city/town/county and you know the neighborhoods/schools/parks/local gems better than anyone. Maybe you just really get a kick out of making clients happy.

For some excellent insight into why the WHY is critical, watch this great Ted Talk by Sinek.[ted id=848]

Okay, so back to point #4.

The author also suggests that you share a personal fact about yourself (not too personal) – one a customer can relate to. Maybe you volunteer at a local shelter, tutor kids on the weekend, lead a scout troop, or do pro-bono web development for nonprofits (call me). Whatever it is – odds are there’s something other than work that makes you tick. That human element is – surprise – something your clients happen to share.

Point 5 in this article is also essential. Now that you’ve opened up a bit, sit back and listen. What’s important to the person across from you? What makes them tick? Do you share a common passion, conviction, or hobby? If the answer is yes, you’ve successfully laid the foundation for an authentic relationship – one that just happens to involve a business transaction.

TWO Real Estate Deals Make a Difference: Operation Homelink and Circle of Parents

March 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm

We’re excited to announce that TWO fantastic nonprofits have just received funding through Investing In Communities! Investing In Communities (IIC) recently distributed over $3,000 to two Nonprofit Partners: $881 to Operation Homelink and $2,313 to Circle of Parents. What made this philanthropy possible?

Operation Homelink

Dan Shannon of Aspire Properties makes his deal make a difference – over $800 in free, unrestricted funding for Operation Homelink!

An anonymous client generated free funding for Operation Homelink by working with a socially responsible real estate professional - Dan Shannon of Aspire Properties. And Metropolitan Group generated free funding for Circle of Parents by working with Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate - another broker committed to serving his community.

As IIC Real Estate Members, Dan and Michael are making real estate deals make a difference. For these transactions, Dan and Michael both pledged to send 10% of their commissions to IIC, dedicated to the nonprofits of their clients’ choices. Now that’s commitment to client and community!

And what do these great nonprofits do?

Deals that Make a Difference: Delta Institute

February 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Delta Institute’s long-range vision is to transform the Great Lakes Region into the center of the rapidly growing green economy.

We’re exited to announce that another great nonprofit has received funding through Investing In Communities! Investing In Communities (IIC) recently distributed over $10,900 to our Nonprofit Partner, Delta Institute. What made this philanthropy possible?

Delta Institute generated free funding for itself by working with a socially responsible real estate professional. With its lease nearing expiration, Delta Institute chose to look for a new space and to be represented by Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate, Inc. As an IIC Real Estate Member, Michael is making real estate deals make a difference. Through IIC, at least 10% of Michael’s IIC-related commissions go to the nonprofit/s his client selects. For this transaction, Michael pledged to send 15% of his commission to IIC, dedicated to the nonprofit of Delta’s choice. In fact, Michael pledges at least 10% of every commission to the nonprofit of his client’s choice.

Delta Institute’s President and CEO Jean Pogge embraced this opportunity to secure funding for Delta at no cost. Jean says, “This check from Investing In Communities made my day, my week, and my year. Thank you so much for pioneering this new way of doing business!”

Public Benefit Corporations: providing a legal framework for investing in our communities

February 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Guest post by Layton Olson. Layton specializes in representing tax exempt community, trade, and professional organizations at Howe & Hutton LTD.

Layton Olson, Attorney with Howe & Hutton LTD.

Last month, a dozen companies committed to advancing social good filed to be classified as ‘Benefit Corporations’ in California. Their decisions represent a commitment to business strategies that systematically contribute financial, time, human, and other resources to charitable, educational and community improvement initiatives and institutions.  California has joined the six states – Vermont, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Hawaii- that have enacted so-called public benefit or “B Corp” legislation since 2010.  Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Michigan and some cities have similar laws under consideration.

While traditional C Corporations are chartered to maximize benefit (i.e. profits) for shareholders, the B Corporation is legally chartered to consider and benefit stakeholders – a group that also includes employees, the environment, vendors, and the broader community…

Real Estate Deals that Make a Difference: Increasing Women’s Access to Prenatal and Postpartum Care

January 17, 2012 at 8:00 am

This month, we’ll be spotlighting the impact achieved by three Nonprofit Partners as a result of receiving funding through Investing In Communities. Last week, we highlighted the amazing work of Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium. Today, we’ll be learning about another fascinating nonprofit: Centro San Bonifacio. And stay tuned as we share more inspiring tales of real estate deals that make a difference!

Spotlight: Centro San Bonifacio

Real Estate Deals That Make a Difference: Immigrant Nurse Receives Scholarship to Continue English Studies

January 9, 2012 at 8:00 am

This week, we’ll be spotlighting the impact achieved by three Nonprofit Partners as a result of receiving funding through Investing In Communities. And first up, let’s hear it for Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium! Stay tuned on Wednesday, January 11, and Friday, January 13, to read more inspiring tales of real estate deals making a difference.

Spotlight: Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium

Virginia Jaime would have to drop her class. She had registered for a TOEFL course at Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium, but times had gotten tough for her and her family. As a licensed nurse in Mexico, Virginia had helped her family live a comfortable life. However, she needed to improve her English to become licensed in the US. Without this class, she couldn’t learn English and couldn’t support her family. Even the $200 price tag was too much. She was stuck. 

Real Estate Deals That Make A Difference: PAWS Chicago

December 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Associated Publications and IIC Present $4,800 in Free, Unrestricted Funding to PAWS Chicago

This November, Investing In Communities distributed $4,796 to our Nonprofit Partner, PAWS Chicago. What made this philanthropy possible?

Associated Publications Inc. (API) made its real estate deal make a difference through IIC by working with a socially responsible real estate professional. With its lease nearing expiration, Associated Publications chose to be represented by Michael Pink of MAP Real Estate, Inc. As an IIC Real Estate Member, Michael can use IIC to pledge at least 10% of his compensation to the nonprofit/s his client selects. For this transaction, Michael used IIC to dedicate 15% of his compensation to API’s preferred nonprofit. In fact, Michael pledges at least 10% of every commission to the nonprofit of his client’s choice. Michael is doing business, doing good, “and getting a lot of business doing it!” he says enthusiastically.

Associated Publications Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Krueger-Spurlock embraced this opportunity to support a meaningful cause at no cost to the company. She selected PAWS Chicago to receive the IIC funds from this transaction. PAWS Chicago is the city’s largest no-kill humane organization, focused on ending the killing of homeless pets. 

RE: “Doing good is good for business.”

December 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Yes it is.

Ever since IIConline.org launched back in November 2010, we’ve brought the concept of doing business, doing good to the real estate industry. Why? Well, like most, we believe in doing right by our community. We’re also friendly Midwesterners. But most importantly, we know from experience that doing good is just good business.

Branson's Virgin Group recently acquired Northern Rock and is resurrecting the troubled bank as Virgin Money

But don’t take our word for it. Really, don’t. In fact I would much prefer if you took Richard Branson’s word for it. Or maybe Colin Dyer’s. These guys know a thing or two about business. The founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and the much-hyped Virgin Galactic (yes that’s on-demand space travel) among others, Branson is worth around $4.3 billion.   Dyer oversees the second largest publicly traded commercial brokerage firm in the world – Jones Lang LaSalle – with over 40,000 employees in 750 locations across 60 countries.

Both are on record with very public declarations that social responsibility is  good business.

In 2010, Dyer released a white paper titled The Business Case for CSR in which he provides bottom-line arguments for JLL’s commitment to socially responsible business practices. He frames the company’s six pillars of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the context of competitiveness, market opportunity, efficiency, enterprise risk, and reputation – metrics that even “the most single-minded profit-oriented shareholder” can endorse.

And recently, Richard Branson sat down with The Telegraph to discuss the upcoming release of his book, unpoetically titled Screw Business as Usual.

Okay. We’re Listening.

Real Estate Makes a Difference for 15 Nonprofits

November 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Can the simple act of signing an office lease fund college visits for 350 disadvantaged youth? Can it prevent an aspiring nurse from dropping out of training? Could it provide at-risk children with a safe place to learn and play? As Urban Partnership Bank and IIC proved, an everyday real estate transaction can do all that and more.

attendees await the awards

On October 25th, over 150 leaders from Chicago’s nonprofit and business community turned out  to celebrate a new kind of philanthropy. Fifteen fantastic nonprofits received a total of $42,000 in free, unrestricted funding through IIC, thanks to Urban Partnership Bank’s socially responsible, business savvy decision.

Urban Partnership Bank (UPB) seized a unique opportunity: secure office space while benefitting its community at the same time. How? The bank required competing brokers to participate in Investing In Communities (IIC) if they wanted to win its assignment.  UPB awarded its assignment to a broker who agreed to participate in IIC, by pledging at least 10% of his commission on that deal to nonprofits.

By using IIC as bargaining tool, the bank generated $42,000 in philanthropy, at no cost to itself, just by finding office space. That’s right $42,000 in corporate philanthropy – for free.

A New Philanthropy: Bank Generates $42,000 for Nonprofits with IIC

October 3, 2011 at 4:45 pm

On October 25th Investing In Communities and Urban Partnership Bank will give away $42,000 to nonprofits. But this isn’t just textbook charity. The event represents a new approach to philanthropy, and a new model for public-private sector collaboration in which everyone – companies, professionals, nonprofits, and society – benefits.

learn more
Consider these two facts. They’re pretty much old news.

A) Companies use a lot of real estate.

B) Companies give to a lot of money to nonprofits

Investing In Communities (IIC) and Urban Partnership Bank (UPB)  have  used these facts to write a new equation: