Going back to basics – Part 4

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve been sharing a series of posts talking about the importance of strong foundations, both in your life in general, but also in your career.

There are some fundamentals you have to get right from the very outset, which you can do by asking yourself some very important questions: what, why, when, where, who, how, and how much.

Being able to answer these questions can stop you going in the wrong direction and put you in a better position to move forward with whatever goals you have in mind. 

We’ve looked at the first four questions, and now it’s time to delve into the next area for discussion – Who?

It’s not what you know, it’s who

OK, that might be taking it a little bit too far – of course what you know is important! – but I do feel that who you know, your network, is an easily-overlooked asset. Your network is what will allow you to open doors: it’s going to make things possible that you couldn’t do on your own.

Some of the best deals that I’ve ever done have come through my own network, whether it’s an introduction to somebody, or an off-market tip where I’ve had a nod and a wink to let me know that a property’s coming up for sale, which allowed me to get in ahead of the queue.

But there are also hidden advantages to knowing the right people. Back in part 1 of this series, I encouraged you to work out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and your network can ultimately be one of your greatest strengths, and also help you shore up some of your weaknesses.

Your little black book

Your network (which could be made up of potential investors or tradespeople) may contain strengths that aren’t obvious to you until you’re talking to someone who ­doesn’t have them.

For example, let’s say you have a trade background: you’ve got an immediate strength when it comes to understanding the construction process. You’ll also know people who can help you complete a renovation, or do something at cost rather than needing to hire a contractor – don’t take it for granted that everyone has those kind of contacts!

That strength creates opportunities for you. You could go out and find properties in a poor condition that you can easily turn around without it costing you the earth. And that opportunity might not necessarily suit someone who doesn’t have those connections.

Bridging the gaps

When you’re considering your weaknesses, one of the key advantages of having a big network around you is knowing when you need to find someone to help you do the stuff you’re not so good at.

For example, if you don’t know any investors, banks, property agents or people that could introduce you to land deals, you need to start thinking about plugging those gaps.

Now, you may be panicking at this point because you can’t think of anyone you know who’s connected to property, and this is where you need to think outside of the box a little. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative to find your opportunities – can you tap into the network you do have? Do you currently work in an industry that might be useful to you in a way you hadn’t imagined? Consider friends, family, work colleagues and other acquaintances.

Now, this may contradict everything I’ve been saying so far, but ‘Who?’ is really the first question you should ask yourself a lot of the time. If you’re looking at a project and asking ‘How am I going to do this?’ right off the bat, then you’re asking the wrong question. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to spend an awful lot of time thinking how to do things yourself because you’re a self-starter. I do this to myself all the time. The first thing I always think is, how am I going to do this? But the best thing to ask is, who can do that for you?

Think about finding someone to partner with whose skills dovetail nicely with your own – you know or can do things they can’t, and vice versa. Is there someone out there whose strengths complement your weaknesses?

Building connections

Something that I mentioned in my last post, but which is also pertinent here, is to consider how you’re building relationships, especially with potential investors.

If you’re going into a working relationship in a needy way, (when you desperately need what the other party has), it will put people off straight away. Try to establish relationships before you start needing something, then when the time comes around to have a conversation about an opportunity, you can be more relaxed about it.

Don’t try to rush things, and don’t expect people to make big decisions quickly: build relationships over time and let things warm up naturally, not when you need something the following week! It’s vital to build rapport with new contacts or give people you already know time to view you in a different light.  For example, if your friend from college knew you when you were young and perhaps less responsible– now they need time to see you as a serious partner!

Finding a mentor

If you’re in the early stages of your career in property investment, you need to build your education so you can be confident when you’re taking money from others that you’re actually going to be able to pay it back and grow their wealth.

If you don’t have a network yet, consider investing in a paid coaching programme and find a mentor – having someone more experienced that you can lean on can be invaluable. Without one you’re likely to make a mistake and end up paying out a lot more than the cost of the coaching.

When it comes to property, your network is everything. Whether that’s from knowing people who can give you tips early on, people who can help you complete projects without it costing you the earth, or simply a mentor who’s been there, done that and got the T-shirt, their knowledge and advice will always be valuable.

Be sure to tune in next time when we look at the final two pieces of the fundamentals puzzle: ‘how?’ and ‘how much?’. See you then!