August 6, 2022

JF2895: 9 Thought Leadership Tips | Beyond Multifamily ft. Ash Patel

The Beyond Multifamily series is hosted by non-residential commercial real estate investor and Best Ever Show host, Ash Patel. Ash’s goal for this series is to introduce you to the world of non-residential commercial real estate investing and teach you how to look at and underwrite different commercial asset classes.

In this episode, Ash provides his top nine tips for networking and creating a thought leadership platform. He reflects back on the advice he received from Joe Fairless at a local meetup in 2015 that helped him to become the commercial real estate thought leader he is today.


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1. Get on BiggerPockets.

Clean up your profile, network with as many other users as you can, and build 100 connections. Consider friending or connecting with all the local BiggerPockets users in your area, both online and in person.


2. Start a podcast.

This can seem like a major undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. You can start by adding value to existing podcasts. Offer to host, guest host, or book guests. Start using your phone to record yourself interviewing people you know so you can get a feel for what it’s like. For more detailed guidance, listen to 15 Podcast Interview Tips and 12 Tips for Interviewing Podcast Guests


3. Write blogs.

Start writing blogs and offer them up to real estate websites and newspapers. Make sure they are effective, inspiring, and add value to your intended audience. 


4. Approach your local radio show.

Ash has several friends who have syndicated real estate shows on their local radio stations. You can approach your local radio show, provide them with one of your recorded podcasts, and ask if they are interested in airing your content. 


5. Join (or start) a local meetup.

Meetups are a great way to network with others and present yourself as a thought leader. If local meetups already exist in your area, you could potentially start a subsect designated to your specific niche. The main goal is to find like-minded people that want to meet and network. 


6. Join (or start) an accountability group.

You will be amazed at what you learn from realizing other people’s struggles and goals. Accountability groups are all-around excellent opportunities to network while bettering yourself and achieving your goals. 


7. Host or volunteer at a real estate conference.

There are many ways to “hack the conference game.” Offer to present a topic, host a round table discussion, or organize a happy hour for all the speakers. You could even offer to start a conference for someone. Find your own way to inject yourself into the mix. 


8. Start a YouTube channel.

Creating your own YouTube content is an excellent way to share your craft with others. You can share videos of yourself evaluating a property, creating a pro forma from scratch, or simply having a conversation with one of your teammates. Your videos don’t have to be perfect, either — allowing people to see that you're real is what helps to build a great connection.


9. Start a newsletter.

Your newsletter should go out to all of your family, friends, and past and present colleagues — even those you haven’t spoken to in 10 or 15 years. You can start out by sharing some personal milestones, projects you’re working on, and lessons that you’ve learned. Reconnecting with others and hearing about their own personal achievements can be incredibly valuable.


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Ash Patel: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I'm Ash Patel and this is an episode of Beyond Multifamily, where we discuss topics other than multifamily investing. Today we're going to talk about a thought leadership platform and networking. This talk was really inspired by Joe Fairless back in 2015. We were at a local meetup, and it's one of the first times that I met him... And he discussed a thought leadership platform, and I don't think that was a buzzword or as cliche as it is today. But back in the day, he dropped some real knowledge on the group that was there.

One of the first things he said is "Get on Bigger Pockets, clean up your profile, network with as many people as you can, and build 100 connections." The connections that I've made on Bigger Pockets are truly remarkable. For some of the Best Ever listeners that are just starting out in real estate, consider friending or connecting with all of the local Bigger Pockets users in your area. And do this both online. And if you have a physical meetup, go there as well.

We were randomly at a bar, I think it was a Thursday night ,and there was a bunch of young people there. And somehow we started talking about real estate, and it was these college kids that were organizing a Bigger Pockets meetup. So in your area, if you don't have a Bigger Pockets meetup, find out how you can get one sanctioned. I don't know what the process is, but you already have an audience with Bigger Pockets, and I would imagine people would love to meet other Bigger Pockets users in-person.

It was in 2015 that Joe Fairless and I met on Bigger Pockets, shortly after had lunch, I was on his podcast and look at us now, we've been family friends for about seven years.

One of the things that Joe also mentioned at that meetup was start a podcast. And again, this is 2015; podcasts weren't what they are today. However, it's one of those things that sounds appealing until you look at the overwhelming task on creating a podcast. And I've gotta tell you, I've heard Tim Ferriss and Joe Rogan, both top podcasters, say that they've actually recorded a podcast on a plane, on an iPhone. So if you think you need a lot of equipment, expensive microphones, lighting so you can put it on YouTube - they're all fallacies. If your podcast, your content is good enough, you can actually record it on an iPhone, or a very inexpensive two-way voice recorder meant for recording podcasts.

If your next objection is, "Well, once I create the podcast, I've got to market it, upload it to all the platforms, I'm not going to have any listeners", that's okay. If you record a good podcast, offer to give it to other real estate websites. They would probably love to have your content as just a guest podcast.

Content is key today. So if you can record a podcast, if you can do blogs and give them away to other people, let them market it for you, and just be altruistic about it. Don't expect anything in return, other than providing value to others. If you really want to get into the podcast game, find out if you can piggyback with somebody else. Ask someone that's doing a real estate podcast, if you can shadow them doing a podcast, if you can be a helper, setting things up, booking appointments, finding guests for their podcasts.

Once you build that trust and connection, maybe ask if you can co-host a podcast with somebody. If it's a guest that you know well that you want to bring onto somebody's podcast, maybe you let the podcaster know that you've got a great connection with this person, and you can really help dive deep into some of their story. So offered to co-host or even host a podcast for somebody else.

I can tell you that I got very lucky in that a couple of years ago Joe Fairless called me randomly... And the way him and I talk on the phone, it's not "Hey, how are you doing?" It's literally, I pick up the phone and Joe says, "Hey, if I change my platform to all commercial, would you want to be a podcast host?" And I dropped a couple expletives, and then I said yes. So it was essentially handed to me on an incredible platform that he's built, over 1,000 episodes he recorded... But now, he really doesn't record that many, because he's put his time in, and it honestly burns you out over time. So find somebody that maybe has done this for years and they're looking to hand the reins off to somebody else. Prove yourself to them.

I used to be an avid listener of the Best Ever podcast before I started hosting, and I would email Joe and criticize him, basically. I would tell him that he was being too soft on the interviewees, and I gave him a list of questions that he could use in his arsenal that really digged down deep. So if you are an avid listener to someone's podcast, and you think they can do a better job, feel free to add value to them, criticize them in a value-add approach.

I remember when I sent that email to Joe with those lists of questions, I didn't pull any punches. I kind of hit him pretty hard. And a funny backstory is my first week in podcasting for Joe, he came back at me, and he's like, "Oh, my God, you should have asked these questions. As a matter of fact, these are the questions that you told me to ask." Just a little anecdote, but the podcasting is not as easy as it seems. So don't be afraid to grab your iPhone, your Android phone, and start doing some mock podcasts with some of your friends that are in real estate, and start critiquing yourself. You'll learn a lot before you have to do it live for somebody else.

Writing blogs is another great way to get yourself out there, add value to others. There's plenty of real estate websites, newspapers even, that would love to syndicate your blogs. Make them effective, make them truly inspiring or value-add, or share some tough lessons learned, and try to keep them around one page, if at all possible.

Believe it or not, radio is another avenue. I've got plenty of friends who have syndicated real estate shows on their local radio stations. So approach your local radio show, maybe give them one of your recorded podcasts, and ask them if they are interested in airing your content.

In regards to the blogs that you're willing to give to others - those really help their websites get ranked. The more unique content websites have, the better their ranking.

I'm going to circle back to the local meetups - just an absolute great way to network with others and present yourself as a thought leader. If you have local meetups already, maybe start a subset of that meetup. Maybe one for just commercial property, just for wholesaling, just for multifamily. Whatever your niche is, find like-minded people that want to meet and network. This also doesn't have to be real estate-centric; maybe put a group together of young entrepreneurs, young business leaders, or just community business leaders, regardless of age, or gender, and have a breakfast meeting.

I know a few friends of mine that once a week, whatever day it is, like seven in the morning, they meet for breakfast. And if these are people that have jobs or careers or businesses, they may not be able to get away easily during the day or in the evening. But a 6:37am breakfast could be a fun way for people to start their day networking with other business people.

And with you being in real estate, you can further be seen as the thought leader in real estate. One of the benefits is these people with different industry experience may be able to help you scale your real estate business, may be able to help you with marketing ideas that are outside the norm for typical real estate people.

A bit of an off the wall idea is let's say you get a group of high net worth individuals together and your job is just to add value to them. Bring in guest speakers that talk about asset protection, retirement savings, different types of investment opportunities, and the end result is you will be seen as a thought leader, somebody that adds value to others, and you'll increase your circle of very successful people... And you'll be amazed at how much you learn.

An accountability group is another great way to network with people, and again, present yourself as a thought leader. Start an accountability group, or maybe join one first, find out what the structure is, and put together this group; you'll be amazed at how much you learn from realizing other people's struggles and other people's goals.

I have a friend of mine from Canada who is in my mastermind, and he asked me if he can start an accountability group with all the people in this mastermind. And I said "Sure, no problem." So every day or every week, before we meet for our mastermind, he meets with the group. And I never thought much of it. I've never myself joined an accountability group, but I recently read Tribe of Millionaires and I realized how important it is to have an accountability group. Over the years I've tried different things where I've set goals, I have a whiteboard in my office that I never look at, even though I should... I presented some goals to my wife, and for whatever reason, none of those have worked in holding me accountable. But I'm actually going to join this person's accountability group. And the reason is, I want to be accountable to people that maybe don't know me very well, or maybe that look up to me... And I don't want to fail in front of others.

If I fail in front of my wife, if I don't reach my goal, if I don't drop the three pounds by the end of this month, my wife is very forgiving, and even if she scolds me, that doesn't mean a whole lot. But if I have to get up in front of a group of other people and let them know, maybe week after week, that I consistently am not meeting my goals, that's not going to feel good. So I'm looking forward to that.

All of you should consider an accountability group, starting one, doing one with friends... I've done that in the past as well, and it doesn't work for me. We had a chart where we would log our workouts, and whoever did the least number of workouts over whatever it was, a 90-day period, would have to donate a certain amount of money to charity. Well, look, by month one, I was ready to write that check, as these two guys did nothing for me to hold me accountable. I had no problem telling them "Hey, I'm good, man. I'll write the check, you guys keep working out." But again, having to consistently tell people you didn't meet your goals, you failed, and you don't have a good reason... I think it's a great idea. So really consider joining or starting an accountability group. It's just all around great networking. It's bettering yourself, and it's just making improvements.



Break: [00:14:21.26] to [00:16:06.03]


Ash Patel: Another great way to present yourself as a thought leader is offer to help out or host someone else's real estate conference. If I don't butcher my facts, years ago there was a gentleman who went up to Joe Fairless and asked if he can start a Best Ever conference for Joe. And this person took the charge and set everything up, Joe just really had to show up that first year... And now this Best Ever Conference has boomed into one of the industry standard conferences.

Get creative and figure out a way that you can hack the conference game, whether it's offering to start one for somebody, offering to present a topic, offering to host a roundtable discussion... Even if it's offering to organize a happy hour for all of the speakers, find a good way to inject yourself into the mix. Try to be a part of these conferences in any way, even if it's offering to hand out badges, offering to sign people up, maybe offering to introduce all the guests, introduce the host, introduce the keynote speaker, whatever it is... Volunteer yourself and try to become a part of someone else's conference. Or, of course, start your own.

Best Ever listeners, another great tip is start a YouTube channel, start putting YouTube content out there, no matter what it is that you do. I know it's intimidating, setting up a camera, or even your phone, and recording a message... But I'm telling you, there's easier ways to do it. There is a free recording software called OBS Studio, and it can create incredible videos. If you see those YouTube videos where somebody's sharing their screen or playing a game and their face is in the corner of the screen - OBS or other software can do that for you very easily. And you can basically record yourself just doing what you do.

For me, years ago I set up a recording where I was looking for commercial real estate online... And maybe it's an hour, hour and a half long video where I just start scrolling through listings, and I share what I like or don't like about certain properties and how I do my due diligence.

So whether you're a wholesaler, a multifamily expert, a syndicator, whatever it is, share your craft with others. If you're evaluating a property, go through the proforma, do it live, record it. You can edit it later if it's not live, but bring people into your world and let them see what you're doing. Record a YouTube video on actually creating a proforma from scratch. If you have a conversation with one of your teammates, record that.

People want to see real world examples, and they don't have to be perfect. So on YouTube especially, if you stutter, if you make a lot of mistakes, that's okay. People want to see real, because there's so much perfectly edited content that's groomed for YouTube out there. People want to see that you're real and you're putting some of your mistakes out there as well, and that's what helps build a great connection.

For anybody that hasn't uploaded a YouTube video of themselves, here's what I want you to do - all the Best Ever listeners out there, create whatever YouTube video you think people would get value from, and upload it to YouTube. But you can make it a private or unlisted listing on YouTube, so that nobody has access to it. I just want you to see one of your videos on YouTube; critique it, it's going to suck, but now you've gotten over the hump and you know how to make things better. Keep doing that.

I'm telling you, my first videos I didn't know that there was a private or unlisted feature, so I uploaded them, they sucked, they still suck, but over time you'll get better, you'll become more refined, and you'll actually start creating content that people want... And again, that classifies you as a subject matter expert, or a thought leader. And don't even worry about monetizing YouTube. It's one of those things where if you do it for money, it's not gonna work. If he put out great content, maybe down the road, you'll reach 1000 subscribers and the required hours watched, and you can start monetizing it very, very slowly. Don't look at Graham Stefan and some of those big YouTube stars that are making millions; they've put in their 10 years of work on YouTube.

I think the gentleman from Dude Perfect, literally almost gave up after six or seven years. And it wasn't until year 10 Or so that they started making money on it. So if your goal is just to make YouTube videos to make money, don't bother. If your goal is to add value to others, and put yourself out there, do it; start doing it today.

My last piece of advice for you in terms of networking, being a thought leader, being looked at as a subject matter expert is start a newsletter. This newsletter should go out to all of your family and friends, colleagues past, present, and they should go out to people you haven't spoken to in 5, 10, 15 years. I did this about a year ago, I sent out my first newsletter, and I really just went through my entire list of contacts; any name that I recognize, that I think would want to know what I'm up to, or somebody that I want to reconnect with from the past, I just create a newsletter and I shared some personal milestones, I shared things that I was working on, and I shared some lessons that I've learned by making mistakes. And this went out to a few hundred people.

For the next three or four days I was inundated with emails and phone calls, and it was phenomenal, because it was people that I haven't spoken to literally in 15 years, and they wanted to reconnect just as badly as I did, and I wanted to know how their life had progressed and what they're up to. So it was a phenomenal week. I think I sent this out on a Friday, and the entire next week, all day, every day, I was responding to emails, taking phone calls that went on for hours and hours, and again, literally reconnecting with people that I haven't spoken to since my 20's, and I'm 46 now.

The result from this is I had no idea how many people actually wanted to invest in real estate. A lot of people had money on the sidelines that they were looking to deploy, and just had no avenue to do it. Or it's just genuinely reconnecting with people, and maybe you can cross paths in the future. But again, do this to just put yourself out there, to network. Let people know what you're working on. For years, back in the day, I would post things about me doing commercial real estate, and today, when a lot of my friends drive by a for sale or for lease listing, they'll just take a picture of it and text it to me... And it's like, "Hey, I saw this commercial building, and I thought you may want to look at it." That is the result of being a thought leader or a subject matter expert over time.

Best Ever listeners, I'll sum it up for you. Again, it was probably seven years ago that Joe Fairless at this meetup spoke and talked about being a thought leader, and a lot of this went over my head. I'm not a podcaster. "Listen, I'm not trying to be a Joe Fairless", I thought. So I dismissed a lot of it. Seven years later, I realized how important all of the things that he mentioned where and how important it is to be a thought leader or a subject matter expert.

So let's recap what we went over today. The first one is Bigger Pockets. Get on there, network with as many people as you can; use LinkedIn as well. Bigger Pockets is just a great community, build great relationships. And if you don't use Instagram or TikTok for your business or real estate, get them off your phone for some time. Just spend some time on Bigger Pockets and networking.

We talked about the podcast game and how you can add value without having to recreate the wheel; offer to host, offer to guest host, offer to book guests; whatever it is, expose yourself to the world of podcasting. In addition, record a podcast just on your phone, with you and somebody else in your industry, and it'll give you a glimpse of what it's like being a host. Maybe it gives you a different appreciation. I always thought it looked easy as a listener, until I started doing it, and there's a lot of nuances that I have learned in podcasting, and we share that on one of the first Beyond Multifamily episodes.

Realize the importance of meetups. Go to your meetups, and by all means, start one. The one thing that I wanted to cover, that I didn't, was masterminds. Now, you don't have to join a paid mastermind. There should be plenty of free ones out there. If you can't find one that suits you, start your own. Start a mastermind. Get a bunch of like-minded people together, and you could do this over Zoom. One of the individuals that's in my mastermind, the way I met him was he invited me to his. His was free, and it was a non-residential commercial real estate mastermind that he still has today, and has a growing group of people. This was the same individual that started the accountability group. So look into that as well.

Start writing blogs, offer them up to other people. You'll be amazed at how receptive others are about publishing your content. Offer to host a conference, MCA conference, hand out badges, volunteer to book guests, whatever it is try to get involved. Start a YouTube channel or just upload a YouTube video. And again, it's not going to be pretty, it's not going to be good, but just do it. Once you do it, it becomes easier to do it the second and third time. And finally, the newsletter. I can't tell you how rewarding it's been just to reconnect with everybody and share some of your personal milestones with others, and hear about their milestones as well.

And Best Ever listeners, that's a wrap. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope I was able to inspire you. If you enjoyed it, please share it with somebody that you think can benefit from it. Give us a five star review, and as always, follow, subscribe, and have a Best Ever day!

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