In sales, there is always a battle of push versus pull. The buyer might enter a transaction knowing what they want, pulling the desired item into the negotiation. But the seller can often suggest a different option, pushing their idea of the best outcome onto the buyer. The same battle exists when designing user interface for technologies. Developers can either set up a database and wait for the users to pull information in or devise a system to push relevant data to the user automatically. The most ubiquitous example of this that I can think of is Amazon’s “customers who bought this item also bought” feature.
Technologist have long known the benefits of pushing information to a user but have only recently been armed with the algorithmic firepower to learn from massive amounts of feedback in near real time. The science behind machine learning and artificial intelligence have come a long way recently and are now making their way into almost every aspect of our lives. What you see in your social media feeds, the programming of your house’s thermostat, and even that pesky telemarketing call for a free Floridian cruise are all run on a complex system of software programs so complex, they were not possible even a few years ago.
As much of the business world gets automated, parts of the process of conducting an enterprise have proven to be best done by humans. The art of interpersonal relationships will always need an empathetic, human touch no matter how advanced our technology gets. Harvard Business Review published this article in February about how the rise of AI is making emotional intelligence even more valuable.
While the person to person interaction of networking and business development will depend on interpersonal skills, the prospecting process can be made vastly more efficient with technology. This is what Roy Abrams of RealConnex hopes to do with his growing business network for real estate professionals.
A technologist turned real estate developer turned technologist again, Roy and his team have been hard at work building a networking platform intelligent enough to push possible connections to its users, even if they were not aware of their need to make a connection.
Let compare RealConnex to LinkedIn to try to gain a little better perspective. LinkedIn knows your school, work, contact and networking history and tries to provide you with suggestions for new connections based on those criteria. What it knows nothing about, nor cares to know really, is your business. You might have put ‘tenant rep’ in your profile but there was no space to write that you specialize in law offices in Midtown Manhattan. RealConnex, on the other hand, gets a detailed bio of what its users specialties are and what they are currently looking for. It can then start matching up members of its network based on mutual criteria. Investors, developers, brokers, and service providers are matched and introduced automatically. As the system sees what kinds of connections turn out to be the most fruitful, it can refine its offering and continuously improve. Here is Roy explaining it as only he can:
One of the big advancements in the real estate landscape that Roy expects these matching algorithms to do is limit geographic constraints. In my experience, most of us in real estate focus our efforts on a clearly defined, often quite small, geographic area for our practices. This is a way to avoid the risks associated with operating in a place without knowledge about the real estate or local players. But what if you were turned-on to a project out of your area that turns out to be right up your alley? And what if you had easy access to local professionals with verifiable track records and accolades? Now it might be much more enticing to try your hand with a project in the next city over, or even across the country.
The possibility of these types of curated connections is why RealConnex has partnered with large real estate networks like The Miami Association of Realtors. The promise of “Match.com meets LinkedIn for Real Estate” is an enticing one. Even more important than the technology is the user base. If RealConnex can onboard enough users in every real estate vertical they could become the go-to location for business development. No longer will we have to pull others into our networks through the time-intensive process of prospecting. Soon, we can just sit back and let our machines push the most important people and projects to us. Then the real art of the age-old dance of the collaboration process will be all that is left for us spoiled humans to do.