Is social networking for real estate professionals a “Zolve”d problem?

I am a big proponent of social networking.  As they say, word-of-mouth is the best way to win new business, so why not give those mouths a hand (no pun intended) with the latest tools.  LinkedIn was one of the first sites to focus on building stronger business relationships and networks.  I hopped onboard and now actively use it to meet new business contacts and maintain existing business relationships.

Because of the success I have experienced with LinkedIn, I was doubly excited when I heard about Zolve, the social networking site specifically for real estate professionals.  I took some time over the weekend to explore and I like what I see.  Designed primarily as a resource to help brokers and other real estate professionals to manage referrals, there are some great tools for

  • identifying professionals in your network who cover a particular market
  • tracking the process as they handle the referral business
  • reviewing their performance and professionalism through a rating system

The rating system, in particular, has me intrigued.  As I begin to manage referrals through the Zolve site, I will be tracking my performance and those of my colleagues.  I anticipate that there is some potential for abuse and hope that Zolve staff will maintain a watchful eye over the process as the site gets embraced by the community.

I am curious to see how long it remains purely focused on real estate professionals.  With the referral engine, any major industry that thrives on referral business (physicians, attorneys, etc.) could stand to benefit from similar functionality.  On top of that, I hope that the Zolve staff publishes performance reports accessible to real estate investors and occupiers, in a similar manner to Angie’s List, so that the users can benefit as much as the professionals.

The one major negative that I have experienced on the site is some poor site development.  Getting up and running with a full profile took me about an hour and I’m fairly technical.  I still do not have my entire profile established because some functionality still is not properly implemented or lags too much to be useful, but for a first round tool, the Zolve team has done a commendable job.

In case you are curious, you can click here to access my Zolve profile – See my profile on Zolve

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A, B, or C – How can you classify something without a classification system?

I always appreciate unusual coincidences, like today, when I got off the phone after explaining to a client about the differences between Class A and Class B buildings in Chicago only to see a LinkedIn Answers question asking for clarification on the Class A/B/C system.  Since it was still fresh in my mind from the phone call, I decided to take a shot at answering the LinkedIn question.  Feeling that I had done a fairly decent job of addressing the question, I have decided to reproduce my answer for my readers (below).
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The greening of commercial real estate

I was on LinkedIn Answers, browsing for opportunities to share what knowledge I have.  In the commercial real estate category, I saw a question essentially asking, “Is sustainable building design becoming mainstream?”  Ironically, I had been brainstorming how to write a blog post on just such a topic, so now I could get two for the price of one.  After completing the response to the question, I decided to adapt the answer to a post, which you will find below.

We are at the point where “green buildings” are finally being accepted in the traditional construction arena.  I have provided a link to the US Green Building Council’s report, The Cost of Green Revisited.  In July of 2007, Davis Langdon published a sequel to his “Costing Green: A
Comprehensive Cost Database and Budget Methodology” paper from 2004.  In the 2007 report, Langdon re-evaluates the popularity and cost of green construction across several different building use types.  For the most part, his findings show that there is no major cost difference between conventional building and green, or environmentally aware, construction.  Since cost is often the biggest factor in deciding to embrace a new technology or approach with proven benefits, it is safe to say that green techniques are now being accepted.

Now, are we reaching a “tipping point”?  Technically, we are approaching the tipping point because we are not moving toward less environmentally sound building practices in general.  But more importantly, how quickly are we approaching the point where green design is the norm?  A recent article on Multi-Housing News, entitled It’s Not Easy, Leasing Green, makes a good point that the brokers involved in the deals have to understand “green” before they can comfortably position it to their tenants or clients.  In this article, six major firms are identified as taking steps to educate their brokers and I know that my firm, not mentioned, as well as a couple of others, are also actively pushing greater knowledge of LEED requirements and green building approaches.  So, we are approaching the “tipping point”, but it is an on-going process, as each step forward will also open the door to newer, better techniques for building environmentally-conscious buildings.