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3 lessons I learned from working with Ryan Serhant


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Doing your very best at every aspect of your job can lead to opportunities. Everyone you know is a potential client, and you have something to offer all of them. There is no limit to success as long as it’s followed by determination and hard work.

I am a working mom and wife in New York City. I’ve been in real estate for 15 years, and have been a real estate agent on The Serhant Team at Nest Seekers International for the past 3 1/2 years.

We are the No. 1 sales team in New York state as ranked by The Wall Street Journal in 2015 after having closed over $375 million in sales last year.

In 2011, the consulting industry for distressed banks started to slow down, and I was planning my next move. My uncle worked as a part-time real estate agent for a small firm downtown and offered to make an introduction for me.

Courtesy of The Serhant Team

Courtesy of The Serhant Team

As a 2000 graduate from George Washington University with a bachelor’s in art history, my training and experience prior to real estate sales was focused in international title insurance.

Despite not knowing what title insurance was at the time, I worked my way up from an executive assistant to assistant vice president where I was responsible for underwriting, escrow services, sales and marketing. As the market shifted, my career shifted to consulting work.

I was able to land a job as the receptionist where my uncle worked, paying $10 an hour. Both a humbling career move and one of the best decisions I ever made, my new job allowed me to complete my real estate education requirements.

Three months later, as a licensed real estate salesperson, I landed my first exclusive sale listing. Albeit a small one-bedroom in Battery Park City that hadn’t been renovated in 15 years, my first sale amounted to an amazing turn of events.

While marketing the Battery Park City apartment, a broker named Ryan Serhant emailed me with a list of questions about the unit, building, house rules and school zones. I researched the answers, responded quickly and followed up, and as a result Ryan brought a buyer through.

Although the unit ended up not working out for Ryan’s buyers, he continued to ask me questions about my background and career in real estate. “Million Dollar Listing New York” was not yet on the air, and besides our time working on this deal, I had no idea who Ryan was.

Eventually we met for hot chocolate at City Bakery, and he recruited me to work with him. He respected my resourcefulness, responsiveness and conduct. We discussed how he was starting a team, and that the opportunities for growth were limitless. He was building his brand.

As a new agent, I couldn’t understand how I would be valuable or able to compete. Ryan probably booked over $45 million in sales that year, and I had less than $400,000. My client base was small, and my reach was even smaller — or so I thought.

Ryan told me a few things during our first meeting that I will never forget and continue to use as my core business principals. Here are my favorites; I hope they help you, too.

1. Networking

“Everyone you know is a client, and you already have something to offer them,” he said. He had me make a list of everyone I had ever met. It seems so simple, but I had never done this in my previous 11-year career.

Everyone you know is a client who you have something to offer — make a list and keep notes.

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Today I do keep a personal contact list — and use it daily. I include notes on where we met, what their real estate needs are and any interesting facts I know about them. I give this advice to anyone who asks how to build his or her career. I stay connected with friends and family, and everyone knows I’m in real estate.

2. Branding

Ryan advised me to build a brand for myself. It took me about a year to figure out what my brand would be. Once I had my daughter, it became clear to me that I could integrate my passion for real estate with my strong family values.

Build a brand for yourself.

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I am a working mom and have made this my personal brand. I use team listings to bring other working moms together — whether for networking, social events, play dates or clothing drives. I am engaged in my daughter’s day care center, and I manage being a mother, a wife and a real estate agent simultaneously — all are very demanding, but that’s who I am.

3. Believing

There was no limit to my success as long as I wanted it enough and followed that determination up with hard work, he assured me. This one is the best. In real estate, there is no ceiling.

In real estate, there is no ceiling, but you must follow up with hard work and determination.

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I have always worked, and my parents raised me with firm morals and values.  I’ve always had ambition and internal motivation, but had never been in sales. As it turns out, the harder you work, the bigger the rewards — in every sense.

Ryan and I work closely together every single day. We go on pitches together, and we use our combined personal network of buyers and investors to spread the word. We are creative together and challenge each other to be our best.

We help each other show listings, talk to sellers, find buyers, negotiate and close deals.  Being on a team works well for me. I love the support, the competition, and the flexibility to manage my time and prioritize.

Katherine Salyi is a top producer on Ryan Serhant’s New York team. You can follow her on Twitter at @ksalyi.

Email Katherine Salyi.

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