So You Want to Be a Bisnow Panelist?
Bisnow hosts at least two events a month on commercial real estate in our region, and the biggest names in the industry come to speak. We asked a few of our best speakers for their secret sauce to success as a panelist.
Bring red meat.
“I always try to give a little meat for the audience to chew on,” says Transwestern EVP Dean Sigmon. He spoke most recently at our State of Multifamily event this summer (moderated by Brad Fountain, left), where he told the audience just how hot the Class-B apartment investment market is; there’s not enough supply to go around). “You get a lot of people that come on the panels that don’t have any factual data, or it’s just their opinions. Do some in-depth research.” After all, when people come to Bisnow events, they come to learn.
Brookfield’s Dave Bevirt (right, next to Cushman & Wakefield's Brian Dawson) who’s spoken on a handful of panels himself, most recently at our State of DC Office event, says he draws on real-world experience to inform the crowd. Dave is the DC-area director of leasing for the Canadian developer, so he has plenty of stories to draw from. “That’s a given for why those guys and gals are up there,” he says.
Behind the scenes might be the most fun part for anyone participating. The pre-panel conference calls include heavy-hitters, some of whom are direct competitors, and is always a good time. There might be some playful ribbing—how about this lease I signed, yadda yadda yadda—but “we have an extraordinary amount of respect for each other,” Dave says. “I’ve never been on a panel where there’s an alpha that really wants to stand out.”
Dave and Dean clearly haven’t been on the same panels. “Sometimes one person gets an opportunity to answer a question and will try to control the entire panel,” Dean says. “It’s like a debate with Donald Trump.” As long as you’ve got your info, and stay confident, you’ll be fine, he says.
Other than prestige, why even participate on a Bisnow panel? Maybe you’ll look foolish in front of a room of 300 of your industry colleagues. Maybe you will accidentally reveal some insider info and torpedo a deal—Dave says you just have to use common sense to avoid that. But the pitfalls are far outweighed by the positives. “The big benefit is getting your company’s name out in the marketplace,” Dean says. “Bisnow’s distribution, beyond just the Mid-Atlantic, goes to a lot of folks in our business.”
The panels are great, but commercial real estate is a people business. Before our morning events, there’s a (usually) delicious breakfast and coffee hour. At our evening events, there’s typically an open bar (if you haven’t been to one of these you’re seriously missing out). It’s during these times that the price of admission really pays off. “The end game for a Bisnow event is ultimately making connections,” Dave says. “It’s information gathering and networking, which is the fundamental basis of what we do.” Dean tells us he’s even gotten business from doing an event. “After discussing assignments we’ve worked on, I’ve gotten emails afterwards saying ‘If you have the same buyer interested in something in the future, give me a call.’”