For SIOR Designees, It Is Connections First, Deals Second
In his early days as a real estate broker, Newmark Knight Frank Executive Managing Director Geoff Kasselman, a SIOR member and a LEED AP, used to hear the managers at Frain Camins & Swartchild talk about SIOR, the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. As a young professional new in the business he did not know much about the designation at the time, but it sounded prestigious.
“I had come to understand that it is the end-all be-all, the pinnacle of your career,” said Kasselman, now a respected industry veteran. “I came up in the industry with the expectation that ‘when I am finally qualified, I am going to pursue that designation.'”
Thirty years later, after a rigorous application process, decades of volunteerism, and countless friendships and deals, he finds himself leading the organization as the 2017 SIOR Global president. Through this role, he has come to know personally and professionally the true impact SIOR has on one’s career and life and is proud to be a part of one of the 3,100 top real estate brokers in the world.
Prestige aside, it is a cohort that began with a mission of service to the greater good.
SIOR began as SIR, the Society of Industrial Realtors. It was founded in 1941 by Frank G. Binswanger and David T. Houston as part of a need to locate existing and immediately available industrial space that could be utilized for the production of defense and war material. Two hundred brokers became the original charter members, and their World War II wartime efforts helped form the three key tenets of SIOR membership: ability, integrity and sincerity.
To achieve membership today, SIOR applicants must reach consistently high levels of production, go through education courses, pass ethics tests and accumulate glowing colleague recommendations. The designation not only pays off through business referrals, a global support network with top professionals, resources, best practices and branding but also personal connections.
“Membership is expensive. It takes time," Kasselman said. “And once you are in you have to invest in it and yourself.”
For Kasselman, a spirit of service and commitment continues to define SIOR. The organization held its first annual global Service Day on May 8, encouraging members to participate in community service events or efforts through their local chapters. This call to action was a natural evolution for an organization whose members go out of their way to help each other and their communities.
“If you get a call from another SIOR, you treat them like the best client in the entire world,” Kasselman said. “You give him or her a level of service, professional courtesy, responsiveness and information willfully, no strings attached. It always ends up paying back in spades, and we all do that for each other. It’s not required but it’s how the organization has evolved.”
The SIOR of today represents a network of high-achieving brokers ready and willing to share their knowledge and best practices. In an industry based on individual merit, and in the case of SIOR, individual membership, that level of camaraderie can be rare.
Kasselman wants young brokers to feel an excitement about striving to be a member. As president, he established three task forces designed to introduce real estate to students and postgrads, grooming future applicants and showing how the organization can continually evolve to meet the needs of modern real estate practices.
“These three task forces will define the future of SIOR for years to come,” Kasselman said.
One young broker to recently become a member of SIOR is Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis Vice President Amy Broadhurst. Broadhurst knows the impact of SIOR well. She took advantage of a SIOR Candidate Membership program, which is designed for industrial and office brokers to work toward qualifying for the SIOR designation within five years, all while granting her access to designees and SIOR’s courses.
She said she was welcomed in from day one.
“Through the Candidate Membership I could go to the conferences and take part for a much lesser cost, but still get the exposure,” Broadhurst said. “As a Candidate Member, I still felt like I was a part of the organization because I was treated the same way.”
Now a full member, Broadhurst adds the SIOR designation to her professional title, and has amplified her involvement.
“I now feel like I am a part of the brotherhood in terms of providing insight and expertise, whether locally or nationally,” she said. “Having the SIOR designation after your name adds an additional level of respect. I’m proud of it.”
Broadhurst said members welcome her advice and that of other younger initiates.
“The more you are involved in the organization, the more exposure you have to the members who not only have decades of experience but also those who are dealing with the same problems or dynamics that you are facing,” she said. “It provides a local but also national platform from which to view issues from all perspectives. The only way you get that is by being involved and taking full advantage of the services and programs SIOR offers.”
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