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BLDUP Update 10/27/21

BLDUP Breakdown: Personal Branding and the Importance of Social Media

BLDUP recently attended the 2021 C5 Summit in New York City, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Of all the sessions that took place during this three-day education & networking extravaganza, one of the more thought-provoking events was a live panel discussion titled, Disruption in CRE: Personal Branding and Becoming A Media Company. The discussion centered around the significance of using social media as a marketing tool, and how one can harness its advantages to develop a powerful personal brand.

The four-seat panel was comprised of Jayson Siano, Cory Zelnik, Kyle Inserra, and Kristin Rebeck. Before we dive into it, here's a brief description of who they are and what they do:

Jayson Siano is a nationally recognized thought leader and content creator in the realms of commercial real estate, and retail. He entered the industry in 2001, helping the expansion of Starbucks on Long Island, and later working as a member of the CBRE NY Metro Retail Services Team. In 2010, he founded SABRE Real Estate Advisors; the premiere cloud-based National Advisory firm in the US. Jayson is also a founder of hellojenny, and the CRE Digital Army.

Cory Zelnik is the founder and CEO of Zelnik & Company LLC; a boutique real estate firm specializing in Manhattan retail. He founded the company in 2006 and has been involved in several million square feet of commercial real estate transactions.

Kyle Inserra is a former restaurant owner with over 18-years in the business. He is now an Associate Director at SABRE Real Estate Advisors and specializes in strategic growth and advisory services for emerging restaurant brands nationwide. He is also the host of The National Restaurant Owner’s Podcast; an outlet in which he caters to restaurant owners by sharing his industry knowledge and experiences with podcast guests.

Kristen Rebeck is the Vice President of Edge Commercial Real Estate; a regionally focused firm in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. She has over 10 years of CRE experience, starting her career at companies like CoStar Group, and Cresa. Kristen also has a background in tenant advocacy.

While each of these panelists currently works in the commercial real estate industry, the core of the advice they shared was not industry-specific. Anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset can use these tips to their advantage whether they’re marketing a product, brand, service, or even an idea. As Jayson Siano explained at the start of the session, “Everyone has a personal brand, whether you know it or not. That’s because everyone has a reputation.”

In an attempt to relay the valuable insight of these panelists, we’ve compiled a collection of the best answers and key takeaways from each of the questions addressed throughout the session:

Why is social media so important for your personal brand?

Cory Zelnik: “Companies love communication, especially through social media. Social media is a way to get collaborative with your competitors.”

Jayson Siano: “You can’t do business with people who don’t know you exist. Social media allows you to reach anybody, and you can use it to broadcast directly to your target audience.”

Kyle Inserra: “It’s simply effective at bringing in business. Every one of my local deals seems to come through social media nowadays.”


Is there a trick to growing a large following and landing business through social media?

Cory Zelnik: “Be yourself at all costs. Don’t worry about vanity! It doesn’t even matter if you’re a jerk. It’s crucial to put yourself out there in a way that shows potential clients who you really are. If you’re a jerk, own it. A person with a clear picture of who you actually are is more likely to become a customer than someone who feels like you’re putting on an act.”

Kyle Inserra: “The rawness and realness that you put forth is important to show your potential customers your identity and your brand. Then when you pile on your knowledge, they get the full picture and you’re in!”

Jayson Siano: “Your personal brand and what you put out there is like your life resume. These days everyone uses social to promote themselves, and it often feels fake. Because there’s so much noise on all these platforms, keeping your content genuine and real will act as a differentiator that attracts people.”


What makes social media the perfect marketing tool in this day in age?

Jayson Siano: “It’s no secret that the younger generations are obsessed with social. It’s a way to make real estate exciting to this demographic. Even if some of your audience is still in school and not working yet, many of those people could grow up to work in your industry, and some of them might even become your clients.”

Kyle Inserra: “Everyone is busy these days, they don’t have a lot of time, and they have quick attention spans. When you upload social media content, these people can consume your brand in short form any time they want.”


Since you’re ultimately representing your business, how personal should your content be, and should you play it safe with what you post?

Jayson Siano: “Here’s a perfect example. Take my friend Ryan Serhant (one of New York’s most successful real estate brokers). He’s well known for saying things like, “If you’re interested in cats, you should post about cats.” And he’s right because when people are looking to work with others, they’re more likely to connect with someone who has similar interests.”

Kyle Inserra: “I post pictures of my dog sometimes. It’s now to the point where I’ve made sales just because of the fact that I have a french bulldog. Maybe the customer likes dogs, maybe they have a french bulldog too, but regardless, they connected with me because we have something in common. Don’t be afraid to associate your personal life with your personal brand.”

Cory Zelnik: “Be natural, and don’t worry about crossing lines because that’s what will resonate with people!”


Any advice for those who hate watching themselves on camera?

Cory Zelnik: “Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. When my daughter sees one of my posts and tells me it’s cringe, that’s when I know it’s a good one. One takes, and leaving in your mistakes can keep your content genuine.”

Jayson Siano: “I don’t even look at my likes or my output. Just use social as an outlet to get yourself out there as much as possible.”


What platforms should I focus on, and what kind of content is the most effective?

Kristen Rebeck: “The platform you use and the content you make is really just trial and error. It all depends on your personality, who your consumers are, and what your product is.”

Jayson Siano: “It’s very important to create content that’s native for the platform you post on. For me personally, I think Facebook targeted advertising is absolutely insane once you know how to use it.”

Kyle Inserra: “You have to find what platform your target or customer lives in. As Kristen said, it’s all a matter of trial and error. Seeing what works, and refining your style thereafter.”


How do you have enough time in a day to run a successful business and also manage your social accounts?

Jayson Siano: “Invest in people like cameramen and video editors who can take care of tedious work or tasks that are out of your realm. If your business is running a brokerage, run it like a brokerage, and invest in the rest.”

Kyle Inserra: “You can use artificial intelligence to maximize your time. If anyone @’s me right now on one of my posts, you’ll see a response from me instantly with links to my business. Then your information goes right into a spreadsheet list where I can send you future emails related to my brand. Since that’s all done for me automatically, the only thing I have to focus on is pumping out content.”


And there you have it. Tips from top industry professionals, who know how to use technology to their advantage, and grow their businesses while doing it. Even if you don’t have a company of your own, social media can be used as an extension of yourself to showcase your strengths to others (including those who wouldn’t otherwise know you exist). After all, you never know what great opportunities may arise from your online connections, exposure, and recognition. Due to modern technology and the mass adoption of social media, everyone has a brand these days. On that note, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Linkedin for updates on all of the latest commercial real estate projects in the NYC area.

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