Don't do it alone

As her term as the president of CREW San Diego comes to an end, Anne Benge reflects on how commercial real estate professionals -- and professionals in any industry -- should approach their careers and lives.

While this has been a challenging and ever-changing year for those of us in commercial real estate, there is one thing that has been developing steadily: The need for communication, collaboration and innovation. Connecting with people, working with others, leading your team, developing your career and building your business means you need support. So as we move out of 2010 and into 2011 remember a key phrase: Don't do it alone.

You need to delegate and stop doing everything yourself. Ask for help. Yes, we know that you are really good at it and that it can't possibly get done by anyone except you, and if you want it done right, you must do it yourself. Get over all that. Use others' strengths. Know your own strengths and weaknesses and work with others whose skills and abilities complement yours. There is nothing better than a team that has its members all working to their strengths.

Freeing up your time allows you to focus on other things.

Collaborate and introduce some fresh, new ideas into your world. Deliberately seek out the opposite side to a topic you are passionate about and listen. Exercise your freedom of speech and have an opinion. Read about things that are both left and right. Work with others and learn to work on a team. Join a volunteer board like the CREW board of directors and work with volunteers, budgets, teams of other professionals, timeframes and schedules.

Mentor, coach and sponsor others. At any age you can offer a lot of advice. Find an outlet and get involved with someone else's career, especially someone just starting out or looking to take the next step in life. Mentoring others is one of the best ways to learn new things and keep yourself young. (This is assuming that you are mentoring younger people or that you define youth as a way of looking at the world with untainted, fresh eyes.)

When one is mentored one tends to wonder what the mentor gets from the relationship. Everything. Being a mentor gives you new ideas, new ways of seeing the world and a chance to grow. And of course, you are helping someone else grow too.

Network and build relationships. The old adage "it is not what you know but who you know" is really true. Stop thinking that those industry organizations are a waste of time and attending events is just one more thing to do. Getting out will bring you not only new connections but pleasure, stability and mental stimulation. Make sure your network includes people who have careers in other businesses. Talk with everyone you meet about what they do and how they do it.

Each of us is constantly looking to quantify our business relationships and our business associations, but in the end, the support, understanding and growth you will achieve will far out weigh the monetary success you will also achieve.

And, don't forget to ask.

Benge is a principal in the San Diego office of Unisource Solutions, an integrated facility service and office furniture provider, and is the outgoing president of CREW San Diego./I>

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