Asset Record is all about collaboration. So we’ve decided to launch a new content feature we’re calling: Innovators & Connectors. These features will highlight the key people and companies who we believe are the innovators and connectors throughout the entire real estate industry.
For our first ever Innovators & Connectors, we interview Brent Williams, Chief Insider at Multifamily Insiders- the largest online social networking group for apartment and multifamily professionals. Multifamily Insiders hosts blogs and discussions on a variety of topics, such as apartment marketing, resident retention, property management, apartment investment, multifamily development and jobs within the industry. They maintain a high readership audience and have over 17,000 members in their Multifamily Insiders LinkedIn Group.
Here are some highlights from our interview:
ASSET RECORD: What inspired you to start Multifamily Insiders?
BRENT: There were two main reasons why we ended up developing Multifamily Insiders. First, we had a company that provided a mini social network specifically for a given apartment community so that residents could get to know each other. But at the time, MySpace was the “face” of social networking, and it didn’t have the best reputation. Plus, many leaders we talked to hadn’t been on a social networking site, so they didn’t really understand what that meant or how it would help their communities. So we thought that developing a business-oriented resource that would allow multifamily leaders to engage in social networking would help us make that link with our original company.
Additionally, when I joined the industry, there were very few online resources to simply dig into and find out how the industry ticked. So we thought Multifamily Insiders could do two things – educate the industry on multifamily topics, as well as get professionals more accustomed to social media. In the end, however, MFI grew so quickly and so large, that we decided to let go the original company and focus our efforts here.
ASSET RECORD: How else has Multifamily Insiders grown or changed over time?
BRENT: When MFI originally started, we were very fortunate to have a core group of really enthusiastic community leaders, such as Mark Juleen, Lisa Trosien, Mike Brewer, Heather Blume, Charity Zierten, Mike Whaling and Jonathan Saar. They helped cultivate the conversation and build our initial community. As we’ve grown, it has been really amazing to see new people join the group and create their own “brand”. Rommel Anacan is a great example of that. He used our platform really effectively to expand his reach and really accelerate his business. A lot of people don’t realize that over the past year, we have had over 300,000 unique visitors to our website, so now even the greenest leasing consultant has the opportunity to build a national network if they have great ideas to share. So in that respect, I think we have democratized the innovation process, where brilliant ideas are not just limited to a few influencers, but rather anybody can impact the industry by sharing their insights.
ASSET RECORD: What are the most important factors that have contributed to Multifamily Insiders’s success?
BRENT: Far and away that has been our community and culture. It’s the people that join the website, share ideas in the discussion forum, reply to blogs and get involved that are the ones that have created the unique environment we have. All I have done is simply given them the “mic” so they can showcase their own talents and ideas.
ASSET RECORD: What are a few resources (other than MFI of course) that you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better Apartment/Multifamily leader?
BRENT: I think it is incredibly important to remain active in local apartment associations. Face to face interactions are still critical to developing relationships. I think a blend of being active in online forums and in person meetings/activities is the best approach.
Do you have something awesome to say and need a platform to say it? Asset Record is looking for a few good contributors. We want to showcase movers, shakers, leaders and innovators of the real estate industry. Whether you’re an owner, manager, appraiser, lender, broker, investor… we want to hear from you.