Friday, November 1, 2013

#CRE communication...with someone under 35...AKA, how to get your call returned!

I provide Location Advice to owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Southern
California...AKA...I sell and lease commercial real estate for a living and have since 1984.

I read a post today from Carol Stephen (one of my favorite blogs) called Baby Boomers and Social Media which had a link to another post entitled the 20 Differences Between Baby Boomers and Gen Y. If you haven't read these posts or are unfamiliar with Carol, please spend a minute and check both out...well worth it! The posts stirred some creative juices AND revealed some differences between generations that inspired this post.

...And being a proud father of three young adults born between 1983 and 1988 who are married to two more (all of whom I love more than life itself), I somewhat qualify to give advice on effective communication with millenials.

If you are a boomer (as I am), born between 1945 and 1957 your business conversation hierarchy...most important to least important is:
  • Face-to-face
  • Call to the office or home
  • A reluctant call to the cell...only in an emergency
  • Write (letter)
  • Email
  • Other...text, social media outlet, etc. 
If you were born prior to 2000 and after 1982, chances are (I guarantee it) you have a different business conversation hierarchy...most to least.
  • Text
  • Tweet
  • FB message (if over 30)
  • Instagram (if under 30)
  • (are you kidding me?), email, face-to-face, what is a home phone anyway
  • Write?...hmmm, not if more than 140 characters
Ok, I have now highlighted the differences, how do you effectively communicate with someone under 35?

Here are some suggestions:

Make it all about them If you have ever dealt with someone under 35, you know that the minute they want something, it cannot happen fast enough. In the return situation...not so much. Tailor your message ever so slightly to make them the focus. Example: My wife and I rented a beach house for a week next year with the hopes of having a nice family gathering. We needed to get "buy in" on a week that would work for all of us. We knew that if we called, texted or "othered", we would be lucky to get a timely response from one out of, we text messaged all five and said "we are discussing an early distribution of our estate. Please call". Within five minutes we heard from all five! Now we didn't lie...the travel and rental (that we are paying for) were an early distribution.

Employ the DEFCON system I love the movie War Games. A computer game generated global nuclear war (not was only a game but NORAD didn't know that!) DEFCON was used in the movie. DEFCON (1-5) stands for defense condition and reflects the current status of military awareness (1 least to 5 most) in preparation for an attack. DEFCON for communication to someone under 35 is 1st level (email) 2nd level (call) 3rd level (text) 4th level (all three at once) 5th level (a personal visit).

Send them a letter...THIS will freak them out!

Reward them for responding

Mirror their timing In this crazy digital age, your contacts can now be any of the 24 hours in the day. Watch when people under 35 respond to you and mirror that timing.

Don't take the lack of gratitude personally Boomers grew up believing that to not respond was rude...because our Ps and Grand Ps were from the "greatest generation" where gratitude was a part of life...because folks died for our freedom (voluntarily)...and we were grateful! If you don't get a thanks for a job well done or for a gift you sent or for busting your ass to make something happen (see all about them)...try not to take it personally...they certainly don't...or they would say thanks.


  1. You nailed this one. Thanks for sharing.


  2. The conversation hierarchy with my generation. You hit it right on the head. Also, I like the mirroring technique. I have been talking to a prospect who is about 34. I noticed that he replied to my email early in the AM, therefore I email him early and now he texts me with a response. I doubt that would happen with a 55 year old guy.

    Also, the gratitude part is funny to me. I get a kick out of it when I spend 10 minutes on a properly worded email to a younger prospect and then get a one word response like “ya”.

    1. Thanks, Phillip! OK, I am GRATEFUL that you took the time to expand the answer.
      I thought I was on to something but to have it reinforced by an
      “old Millenial” is helpful!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for listening, my friend! I hope you are well.

  4. Well said, Allen. We may sometimes mourn the loss of the ‘old’ way of communicating, but to know when to hedge your bets and move into the current technology decade can land a lot more deals and referrals!

    Lisa Congdon | Media & Marketing Specialist
    Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc. – Orange

    1. We (Boomers) actually have an advantage...we remember the old way and how efficient the new way is if properly managed.

  5. Awesome, Allen! Way to go.

    Cindy Endres | Administrative Assistant
    Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services, Inc. – Orange

  6. Hi Allen,
    Thanks so much for the shoutout! Really love the DEFCON levels on the communication! Hilarious! Some people get so angry at Millennials for not saying thank you, but if they weren't raised that way, there's no point. So I really love your ability to translate the message format from Baby Boomer speak to Millennial speak! And thanks again for the mention. I appreciate it!
    Carol Stephen

    1. My pleasure, Carol! Your post was well done and I loved the other post you linked...really put the generational differences in perspective for me. I've wanted to do a post like this for sometime.

  7. Nailed this one Allen - although I'm 34 and a self proclaimed "old school-ologist" (there's a new one for you) in terms of how I enjoy communicating. Face, email, text, phone, social media. (In that order.) Facebook messages-to me-can feel impersonal and somewhat invasive at times. And although I'm ON Instagram, I'm not communicating through Instagram... yet. Nice image filters, however. I hope the next generation doesn't kill face to face altogether...!

    1. I like that..."old school-ologist". Yes you are, my friend! You employ old school techniques with new world technology...there!...your new tag line...for FREE!