February 28, 2022

JF2736: 3 Tactics for Building Excellent Networking Skills ft. Vish Muni

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Does networking online really work? How do you make sure you stand out? Vish Muni, Founder of PGL properties, reveals the tips and tricks that have helped him excel at networking to find new deals. He also discusses what he looks for in an operator and reviews his latest deals.

Vish Muni | Real Estate Background

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Slocomb Reed: Best Ever listeners, welcome to The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Slocomb Reed and I’m here with Vish Muni. Vish is joining us from Belton, Texas. He’s the founder of PGL Properties, which syndicates class B and class C properties. He’s a GP on over 430 doors and an LP on almost 700 doors. Vish, can you start us off with a little more about your background and what you’re currently focused on?

Vish Muni: Well, thank you Slocomb for having me on your show. Well, I used to be an IT person for 15 years, and about 10 years back, me and my wife decided to start a real estate company called Duplexaholics. It is primarily for investing in only duplexes. Our goal was to buy one duplex a year for 10 years. When we started, we bought one duplex a year, the first year, the second year, the third year, and the fourth year, we bought a fourplex, and the fifth year we bought a single-family home, and then we hit a wall. In the next five years, I managed to continue with the business, in spite of all the financial challenges… But in year 10, I decided to take a step back and see what are we doing wrong. People talk about having a fantastic lifestyle after investing in real estate, and out here, I’m 10 years into it and all I’ve been doing is having problems after problems in terms of finance. That is how I discovered something called syndication. This was 2019, and that is when everything changed. I decided to stop chasing too many rabbits, so I gave up my IT job and decided to focus full-time into multifamily investments.

Slocomb Reed: So that’s in 2019, after 10 years of going the owner-operator route.

Vish Muni: Yes.

Slocomb Reed: As a duplex-aholic.

Vish Muni: Yup, Duplexaholics. We still have that company, we still have a single-family portfolio, but my entire focus has shifted. I tell people I’m a slow learner; it took me 10 years to decide what I was doing may not work in the long run.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. So you’re based out of Texas, or what areas are you currently investing in? Or what areas are you looking to invest in?

Vish Muni: Well, the properties which I’ve invested in so far have all been in Central Texas; within Texas there’s the Texas triangle. Unlike the Bermuda triangle, this is the Texas triangle, and nothing vanishes and nothing goes missing. It consists of San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston; I’m right in the middle of the triangle. More than 80% of the Texas population is in these three major cities, so all my investments are within this triangle. What I’m looking at investing is – because it is a syndication, so it really doesn’t matter where the property is going to be, as long as I partner with the right partners, that’s what is going to happen. But going forward, I’m open to invest in Atlanta, Florida, and the Carolinas.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha, okay. Are you primarily investing in Texas right now because of the proximity to you?

Vish Muni: Yes, right now that is what it is. Because I just got started a year back, and right now, I’m looking at primarily the Texas market; but that doesn’t stop me from looking at other locations.

Slocomb Reed: So the last two to three years, you have been the general partner on 432 units. How many properties is that?

Vish Muni: That is four properties.

Slocomb Reed: So a quicker pace than one a year. Are they all around that 100-door mark?

Vish Muni: Well, one of them is a 232 mark, and the rest of them are all at 65 to 70-unit. Of those four properties, three of them are in Texas and one property is in Omaha, Nebraska. These are four different operators I partnered with on year one. Since I was getting into the business, I was open to partnering until I have my own team. So that is how I partnered with four different operators. But it’s all good.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. So four deals in your first couple of years, partnering with operators. Tell us a little more about how those partnerships work out. What is it that you’re bringing to the partnership and what is it that you’re looking for from an operator?

Vish Muni: Well, a couple of things that I look for from an operator. Number one, I believe strongly in educating myself in whatever I’m doing. Being 10 years on my own taught me a lot of things; number one, to educate myself educate, educate, educate. Number two is to have a mentor, because I don’t want to spend another 10 years only to learn that things don’t work. So I educated myself, and I have a mentor. Number three is all about relationships; everything is about relationships. So these are the three things I would not deviate from; my focus is on these three things.

Now, all these different operators – what do I look for in operators? Number one is how long have they been in business, and what kind of business? How many full cycles have they done? At what level are they investing? What are the locations? What is their track record? Now, if I were to work with them, how comfortable am I going to be? If I’m going to talk to someone who invests in my deal, they’re investing in the deal because of me, not because of the deal. If the deal itself is good, and they don’t like me, they’re not going to put money in the deal. So it comes back to the relationships. That is one thing that I’d be looking for in all the operators. What is the track record? How long are they been doing it? Which are the markets? And do they fulfill all the promises they’ve made? That is how I got onto these deals… And who are all these operators? The ones with whom I built relationships over a period of time, I met them on several occasions, and I would not invest with any operator if I don’t know them, if I am not convinced with them in the first place. If I’m not going to invest in their deals, I’m not going to ask my investors to invest.

Slocomb Reed: Vish, you focus primarily on capital raising, then on identifying operators you can partner with who give you the opportunity to deploy capital?

Vish Muni: Yes.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. 10 years as an owner-operator… How large did your portfolio get before you got into syndication?

Vish Muni: I had five duplexes, two fourplexes, and four single-family homes.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. Which of the skills that you developed as an owner-operator prior to syndication have been the most valuable to you now that you’re focused on capital raising for syndication deals?

Vish Muni: Number one, I always liked networking. Networking – I had to step up a notch in terms of networking. Earlier, I used to network with five different people. Now that same five different people are not going to make a cut, so I had to spread myself in terms of what platforms I’m going to be in, and education. So I needed to improve my networking skills, that is number one. Number two is relationships. I used to probably work with three or four financial institutions earlier. Now with multifamily, I need to take the same relationships to a different level, because the game has changed. It’s not me anymore, it’s a whole team of people. The volume of transactions, it’s not a million dollars anymore, it would be a $20 million or $15 million deal. So the relationships also, everything changed. I hope I answered your question. Was that your question or I deviated?

Slocomb Reed: Yes, you’ve talked a lot about the value of building relationships and networking. Are there any particular aspects of operating as an owner-operator that you’ve found have translated very well and very importantly into being a capital raiser?

Vish Muni: Number one, identify people who are really good at what they’re doing, and let them do their job; don’t micromanage them. Because I learned the hard way when a property manager fired me as the owner. So I decided not to micromanage. If I’m going to delegate something to someone, let them do it; I’m not going to micro-manage. In terms of relationships, people like to know whether they can trust me or not before they do anything. And I don’t need to sell them into anything, as long as they trust me and like me and what I’m doing, I just need to influence them in the right way and educate them.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. The 232-unit, significantly larger than your others – is it the most recent deal you’ve done?

Vish Muni: My recent deal was last October; we closed on a 75-unit deal in Lake Conroe, Texas. The 232-unit deal was almost a year now, it was back in March 2021. That was scheduled to close in 2020, and a lot of things did not go as planned just after Thanksgiving; the holidays came up, and the New Year’s, and then Texas had a snowstorm, and two of the buildings collapsed, and the insurance claim… So it finally closed after four months; that was last March. That was the biggest deal so far, and the latest deal was the 75-unit deal.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. You just brought up something I wanted to ask about, Vish, because we’re recording this in early February of 2022, and Texas has been hit with another snowstorm; not as dramatic, to my understanding, as the one in late 2020, early 2021. But have these weather events in Texas recently, the cold weather events, affected the way that you underwrite your deals in Texas?

Vish Muni: Well, you’re going to add a little more CapEx items to that. Also, when you’re doing the due diligence, pay a little more attention to the roofing, piping, wiring, and anything which you think might get affected. Pay close attention to that.

Break: [00:13:43][00:15:39]

Slocomb Reed: Are you adjusting your insurance expectations?

Vish Muni: Well, yes. When I’m underwriting, we are probably adding another 20% to the underwriting template.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. With the largest deal a little over a year ago and the most recent 75-unit, are you underwriting to the five-year hold?

Vish Muni: Yes. I’ve not been underwriting, because my role in all these deals has been participating in the due diligence, also risk capital, and also bringing capital to the deal. I do look at the underwritings, but primarily I’m not underwriting these deals.

Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. Focused on raising capital. You’ve talked about the emphasis that you put on networking to build relationships. Vish, what is your favorite way to network?

Vish Muni: Well, it’s very easy to network, because I use a simple formula called FORD, as in automobile Ford. Anyone can use that formula, I’m going to speak about it. F in FORD stands for family, O stands for occupation, R stands for recreation, and D stands for dreams. If you just focus on these four in no specific order… Everyone has a family they want to talk about, anytime; people wouldn’t stop talking about the family the minute you ask them. Occupation, everybody says that they like their job, they don’t like their job, they want to switch, everything. Recreation – I don’t know of any person who doesn’t like something. Everyone loves sports; talk about sports, which game they like. If you don’t know something, that’s fine, ask them to teach you about it, they will be excited to teach you. And dreams – everyone has a dream. Unless you ask them to specify, they won’t talk about it.

Just use a simple formula to connect with people. Once you connect, make sure you follow up on that. If you don’t follow up, it’s of no use. I’m a Texas realtor also, and then I also need to connect with people all the time. There are multiple locations people can connect to, there’s no one specific location. You could go out for a drink and you could meet somebody, you could go to a workout and you could meet somebody there. Just stick to this FORD principle. You can connect any time all the time.

Slocomb Reed: I have a friend who likes to say that someone who talks about themselves is egotistical, someone who talks about things is boring, but someone who talks about you is a brilliant conversationalist. FORD, family, occupation, recreation, dreams. That’s an acronym I’ve come across several times, Vish. When it comes to networking, are you primarily looking to meet people on online platforms? Are you attending conferences? Are you attending local meetups? What are your tactics for getting in front of people to have the opportunity to have that conversation and build a relationship?

Vish Muni: Well, in terms of the order of meeting people or building relationships, I would say meeting people online is the last. The first is I like to meet people in person. Most of the events in Texas I try to be there in person. I like to shake hands with people with whom I want to do business or with whom I want to build relationships, that is number one. Number two is local meetups – yes, most of the time I’m there. The last is online meetups. Online meetups, I feel it’s like Facebook friends. You ask anybody, everybody has like 2000 friends. But if you walk by the same person on the street, he or she wouldn’t say hello to you. Even if you go talk to them, they’ll say “This guy is weird, there’s something wrong with him. He’s walking up to me and wants to shake hands.” But it is the same person. So online is good, but I think I wouldn’t depend only on that. I like to meet people in person. Where do I meet these people? Everywhere; they’re everywhere. I belong to something called Toastmasters, I meet people there. I meet people at the Lions Club I’m a member of. You go to a fitness center, you meet people there. They’re everywhere. It’s just that I need to step out of my zone and meet them, because nobody’s going to walk to me and say, “Hello, nice to meet you.”

Slocomb Reed: That makes a lot of sense. Tell me what is the number one lesson you’ve learned thus far in your syndication deals?

Vish Muni: Disclosure, number one. Disclose what it is; speak out as it is. Don’t sugarcoat things, because it will come back to bite you. Be honest and upfront with what is happening. I’m playing with other people’s money, so it’s best just to be honest and educate people all the time. Let them come to a point to say “You educated me too much, don’t give me any more information.” Sooner or later, they’re going to come back to you and tell you that you did not tell this to me. That is why from day one, educate them, be transparent, speak out, tell things as it is. If the deal is not going to work out, tell them “No, the deal is not going to work out.” Before anything, people want to know if I have any skin in the game or I’m just selling them something, so that is what I would do. If you do things right, you don’t need to sell it to them, they’re going to invest in you. What I feel is I need to take care of one relationship at a time for me to get to 10. Because if I’m not taking care of what I have, it’s very unlikely he or she is going to come back to you and leave you alone. They’re not coming back to you, they’re not going to refer you to anybody.

Slocomb Reed: Vish, you’ve successfully executed [unintelligible [00:21:24].00] four syndication deals in the last couple of years, focusing on raising capital and raising that capital primarily through networking, building relationships, making sure that you’re focusing on the person with whom you’re meeting, not yourself, and their family, occupation, recreation, and dreams, but also their goals and their aspirations for investing… And you said that one of the most important lessons you’ve learned is to be upfront, be honest, disclose, don’t sugarcoat. This is very helpful advice. Are you ready for our Best Ever lightning round?

Vish Muni: Yes.

Slocomb Reed: Vish, what is your Best Ever way to give back?

Vish Muni: Well, I belong to the Lions Club in Temple where I live, and I’m a certified vision screener. That is one way — I do vision screening for people who can’t afford to get their eyes checked, that’s number one. Then I always look for opportunities to volunteer. Me and my wife are big-time into charity and donations, and to help people educate, more than anything. People could have all the money in the world, but if they’re not educated, they’re going to lose that money pretty fast. Education alone could change people’s lives, so we try to educate or we try to donate to education centers. Also, once a year, me, my wife, with my daughter cook about five to 10 lasagnas to donate to the homeless shelters close by.

Slocomb Reed: What is the Best Ever book you recently read?

Vish Muni: I’ve read several books. I think what sticks to me every day is one by Tom Wheelwright. He’s written this book called Tax-Free Wealth, which I read three times, and then Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad. There’s another book called Unfair Advantage. But the Tax-free Wealth one so far tops my list.

Slocomb Reed: You know, I catch myself quoting Tax-Free Wealth by Tom Wheelwright all the time. Especially with people who are not in real estate and don’t understand what we’re doing, don’t understand the advantages, the tax advantages of what we’re doing, I end up quoting that book way more often than I expected when I first read it. Vish, what is your Best Ever advice?

Vish Muni:  Well, I tell people to join a mastermind group, that is number one. Number two, get a mentor. These two things alone would change their life or change their investment strategy in whatever they’re doing. In the 10 years, I didn’t dive either of them, I didn’t have a mastermind group so I thought whatever I was doing is the best thing, and I didn’t have a mentor. Now, that is my advice to anybody, I tell them to join a mastermind group, and number two is to go get a mentor. These two are expensive but the 10 years is more expensive than these two.

Slocomb Reed: Vish, where can people get in touch with you?

Vish Muni:  Well, they can look me up on LinkedIn as Vish Muni, that is the best way they can reach me, because LinkedIn messaging is the best way I would reach out to them faster than text messages.

Slocomb Reed: Excellent. Well, Best Ever listeners, thank you for tuning in. If you’ve gotten value from this episode, please subscribe to our podcast, leave us a five-star review, and please share this episode with a friend so that we can add value to them through our podcast too. Thank you and have a Best Ever day.

Vish Muni: Thank you, Slocomb.

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