We caught each other’s eye by accident.
I looked away. He looked at the floor. But then I thought, why not break the ice?
“So you live around here?”, I said awkwardly.
“Yeah sometimes”, he said. “I spend some time near here at my girlfriend’s place and I have my own place further north”.
He looked as uneasy as I felt, but after being ignored by our better halves who had recognised each other from across the room, we had little choice but to strike up a conversation.
Turns out he was a builder up on the northern beaches, and as I had some experience in the construction industry, we quickly started talking about clients and home design and the money that was thrown into this project and that project.
As it turned out, this particular builder had made his living for the last 5 years simply working on one street. Not just any street of course, a premier beachfront street.
He talked house size and dollars and explained to me how some builds would be around $1.2M while others could easily climb to $2.7M and above. Clearly by now you’re seeing that this is no ordinary street.
“But not all of them are a success”, he said.
“In what way?” I asked.
“The ones who want to do their own thing, you know. They get their architect in, spend all that money, then they want to put their own design ideas into it. The ones who trust their architect and defer to them, they’re the ones who often end up with the best outcomes.”
“It’s hard to believe people would spend all that money and then not take their advice”, I said.
Before I finished my sentence though, I could understand why. The issue was not one of competency, but one of trust. The client hadn’t put their trust in the architect to work on their behalf.
As a buyers’ agent I am often co-ordinating a whole team of people who all come together to make a seamless purchase for the client. If we haven’t developed a level of trust with the client, then the whole process can become extremely difficult.
Trust is built when you learn that the person that you’re dealing with can not only do the job, but also cares – cares about the job, cares about the outcome, cares about you.
While our team goes to great lengths to establish that trust, if you’re an investor who has to put your own team of experts together then it can be difficult to find the right people straight away. Trust doesn’t happen overnight, but watching and listening for the values someone shares with you can often be the first step in the right direction.
Understand someone’s values and you understand their motives, desires and actions.
Speaking to the builder that night, he went on to tell me that he was reluctant to move into a shared apartment to live with his girlfriend and her room-mates because he liked where he lived.
“I can keep my place neat”, he said, “and everything has its place.”
Dressed in a smart shirt and cocktail jacket (remember, this is a builder), I could tell this was a man who took pride in the finer details of his work and it was no wonder that he represented some of the more expensive residential builds in the country.
I could see where his values were and I made sure I grabbed his card before I left because I knew that was someone I may one day hire myself.
The same goes for architects, salespeople, and anyone who offers a professional service. Looking at their website and performance is one thing, but do their values align with your own?
For me it’s often the little things that count. For example, when I’m looking to work with someone, I look to see whether that person looks me in the eye when they shake my hand. I pay attention to whether they spend more time listening to my problems (at a professional level) rather than talking about how wonderful they are. It shows me they’re not bringing their ego to the table.
I’m always looking for people who are down to earth and genuine, so people who are constantly trying to show me how impressive they are often don’t get far. I want to know how they’re going to solve the problems they were hired to do.
I’m also wary of people who are more focused on the transaction rather than connecting with me and building a personal relationship that may actually extend beyond the sale.
As a result, I often end up with a reputable team around me who are reliable, professional and no drama. No mess, no fuss – they just get on with the job and they get results.
So whether you’re looking to build an investment team or you’re just looking for some quick financial advice, see if you can pick up on the values of the person you’re looking to engage. Listen to what they say, listen to how they say it, observe their body language.
It’s easy to get lured in by those who “talk the talk”, but watching for the little things – the things that speak to your personal values – will tell you whether they’re the type of people you want on your team.