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Will real estate developers open up, too?

A few months ago I read a book by venture capitalist Ben Horowitz called “The Hard Thing About Hard Things.“ It was a great read and I recommend it to anyone who currently or plans to one day manage and lead people. But on a side to that, one of the things I found really interesting is the shift he talks about in the venture capitalist business.

Over the span of a decade, venture capitalists went from being ivory tower professionals to incredibly open and transparent. And they did that primarily through blogging. Just yesterday, I saw somebody tweet out that the key to becoming a venture capitalist in 1994 was to get an MBA. Today, it’s to start a blog.

The reason I find that interesting is because I predict that the same transformation is going to happen in the real estate development business. Today, most developers are pretty opaque. The people and personalities behind the projects are still generally concealed (save for a few developers) and my sense is that there’s still very much a fear of exposing and sharing too much.

But the lesson to be learned from the VC business is that blogs have become one of, if not their most important customer acquisition tool. I read somewhere that entrepreneurs—which are the customers of VCs—are most heavily influenced by blogs over any other medium. That is how they decide who they will allow to invest in their business.

Which is why I think it’s only a matter of time before the same sort of dynamic plays out in the real estate business. In fact, one of the most common questions I get from readers of ATC is about the reputation of developers and builders. Customers—before they decide who they will allow to build their future home—not surprisingly want to know something about the developer.

So if you’re a developer looking to sell more homes or lease more space,   I suggest giving blogging a try. It’s hard work, but I think you’ll be surprised at how effective a tool it can be.

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