The timber business has always been in my family. Growing up, my dad owned his own timber brokerage company. It was something I was really familiar with. Being on land, buying, selling and trading it, were all things that I was accustomed to. But it was a career path my dad said I should never take.
I always wanted to do what my dad did, so when he sold his business I wasn’t sure where to go with my career. I ended up going to the University of Alabama and graduating with an environmental degree. And soon after, got a job in Mobile, working for an environmental company where I did safety and environmental consulting. I continued that line of work for about four years before I decided to go part-time with them and obtain my real estate license.
I had been looking for a different career opportunity for a while. Somewhere where I could grow and be my own boss. So, in April of 2016, I went to work for National Land Realty (NLR). The opportunity came up through a mutual friend who happened to be a broker for NLR. And I went full speed ahead with only the knowledge and experience in land I had gained while growing up. But it was a challenge I was driven to overcome.
Starting out at NLR as a Land Professional, the first listing I got was in Choctaw County, Alabama. I never really knew how many people were interested in buying land until I got that listing. I ended up generating over five sales on five different properties from that first listing. Closing on that first deal made me more motivated than ever before.
My biggest challenge thus far has been gaining trust within my clients. But trust comes from hard work and doing exactly what I say I’m going to do. Like making sure I talk to the previous landowners, spending more time on each deal… It’s about going above and beyond. And not being afraid to get out there and get muddy.
As a younger and newer Land Professional, I want to offer advice to others out there who are just starting out and want to reach that next level. Here are my top 5 tips on how to get there:
- Be persistent.
If I could only offer one piece of advice, it would be to always be persistent. You have to go out and get the business. You can’t just sit around and wait for it to come to you. You’ve got to go dig it up each and every day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask other professionals for help and don’t take no for an answer.
- Network, network, network!
Networking is key in the land real estate business. It’s about keeping your name in front of people – creating your personal brand. So, make sure to attend all the outdoor events you can. Get on different outdoor committees and even go to city council meetings. Don’t be afraid to stop at your local bank, coffee shop or co-op store to market yourself and your business. You want to create a culture of, “That guy knows what he’s doing.”
- Find a mentor.
Finding someone who’s been in the industry for a while and can show you the ropes can benefit you greatly when you need that extra bit of knowledge on a certain topic or just a boost of motivation. A mentor can also help you see areas where you may need some improvement.
- Go above and beyond.
To be successful and get to the next level, you’re going to have to put in the time and the effort. Working longer hours, making those extra phone calls, going to those late-night meetings – all these will pay off in the end.
- Be honest and thorough with clients.
Always keep your word with a client. Spend that extra time with them going through each step of the process so they feel confident. You’ll be able to gain their trust and build a relationship with them that could last for decades to come!
Forrest During is an RLI member and land professional at National Land Realty who specializes in acquisitions, sales, recreational, timberland, and conservation properties. This post was originally published on the National Land Realty blog in August 2017.