Moses Hall started his real estate career in 2014 as a licensed REALTOR®, specializing in commercial investment property acquisitions and commercial real estate disposition. In January 2019, he launched MoHall Commercial & Urban Development, where his focus is redevelopment through commercial real estate and investment properties. Through collaborative efforts, Moses’s ultimate goal is to revitalize communities and build wealth through real estate on the south side of Chicago. His mission has been highlighted in publications, as he received the prestigious honor of being named REALTOR® Magazine 30 under 30 Class of 2019, and he currently serves as the 2020 National Association of REALTORS® Vice Chair of the Commercial Economic Issues & Trends Forum, and also on the N.A.R. Board of Directors.
On today’s episode of Stay Paid, Luke and Josh sit down with Moses to talk about the importance of building recognition for your business through networking—and how that can directly impact your bottom line.
- You have to put yourself out there in the industry to build rapport with potential clients.
- Diversify your audience through social media by sharing a mix of industry and personal content.
- Getting involved in your community can position you as an industry expert.
Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.
I’m originally from New York, and I have a background in the arts. I went to a performing arts high school called LaGuardia High School. If you’ve ever seen the movie Fame, that was what the movie was based on. When I turned 18, I didn’t want to be that starving artist that we all hear about. So my focus was to study and learn the music industry. That prompted me to move from New York to Chicago, and I attended Columbia College Chicago and studied music business. I got to the end of my four years and like most college grads I was like, “What the he** am I going to do next?” I started looking for a job. And as we’re all aware, the music industry has greatly changed in the last ten years, and even greater with technology and other marketing platforms. So those jobs I was looking to get after graduation—my initial goal was to be the next Jay-Z, the next Diddy—and the music industry greatly changed. I was actually interning at a music publishing licensing company where we helped put music in different films, television commercials, and campaign ads. I had the opportunity to work with different brands like Nike, Bacardi, the Olympics—all different types of stuff. They had an opportunity for me to get hired full-time, so my entrepreneur mode kicked in, and what I realized was every art form needs some type of space.
I then thought, why not find this cool loft space where I can live on one side and rent the other side of it? I was kind of the Airbnb of event space. So I started to market to photographers, models, video people, who wanted to rent my space for an hourly rate, and I would use that income to pay the rent. With each booking it grew. I got a lot of publicity. I was featured in a Verizon Wireless small business series. When we talk about Google searching, I came up on the first page when you’re looking for event space. So I started to get a lot of calls for people to rent this cool, hip event space. But I realized in order for me to upgrade to a larger event space, I’d have to change my booking and my pricing. I started to do the math on what the landlord was charging me, what he was getting from other units, and what his potential mortgage payment was, and I said, “You know what, I need to learn the mortgage side of stuff.” And that prompted me to get my broker’s license in 2014. I’ve been working on the commercial investment sales side since then.
Q: When it comes to commercial real estate, on the relationship side, people tend to think of it more as a transaction. Give me your thoughts on that:
Everyone has their methods. There’s no one-size-fits-all in our industry. But for me, what has worked is relationships. I sit on several boards and committees, not just nationally but internationally. And being on these boards positioned me to build relationships with developers and building owners, and having that rapport allows me to win the business. I know some people cold call and try and get business that way, but for me, it’s strictly relationship based. That’s worked for me, being the underdog under 30—the average broker is over 50—but me coming in as a young grasshopper, I have to hold my own weight. The way I do that is building those relationships. I look at it as more than a transaction. If you build that relationship, they’ll be a client for a lifetime.
Q: What are some things tactically that you do to foster, nurture, and build those relationships?
One platform that I love is LinkedIn. It’s different for residential agents, because nine times out of ten, your next client isn’t on LinkedIn. But because commercial is a business to business industry, I’m connected with other business owners. The one thing I like about LinkedIn is I can post a listing, post a closing, and my network can react and like it, and then everyone in their network will react and like it. So it’s a tumble effect. I now have connections of connections following me. I’ve actually had people inbox me, “Hey, I saw your listing. I want more information about that.” I’ve been able to get business that way.
And, as I said, I’m very relationship based. I get involved in my industry. I sit on several boards. I go to different events. One particular scenario is, there’s a developer in Chicago who I’ve been wanting to work with. It’s been several years since we’ve started to build up a rapport and relationship. We started going to the same events and he’d see me speaking there. Then we ended up on the same boards and committee meetings. Over a two to three year time period we built a great rapport, and now it’s developed into a business relationship. There are millions of people dying to work with this developer. He’s doing great work on the south side of Chicago, and now here I am with a more direct line and relationship. It came from being in his face constantly, and then once he saw the work I was doing in the industry, it was like, “OK, this guy’s got it.”
Q: How did you grow your audience on social media?
Each platform dictates the content I post. LinkedIn is more business-oriented individuals, so my content is more of my listings, industry related things, and things people can use and share that’s helpful to their business. What I notice with Facebook sometimes is if you post your listings you won’t get as much traction. Some people take offense and think, “Oh, no one is supporting me.” But no, I think it’s more of a Facebook system that limits what people want to see. So what I do with Facebook is I let people know I’m in the industry, but that’s not my full focus. I try and add in a more personal and touchable focus on my Facebook and Instagram pages. Since we’re all quarantined, I’ve been a cooking storm—trying different recipes. So I made a joke about it this morning and within two hours I’ve garnished over 400 likes on that one post. So what do I know from that post? I know that people who have never really interacted with my real estate posts, they’re interacting with that human side, “Oh, he cooks.” And now they’ll go to my page and see, “Oh, he does real estate. He’s pretty cool.” Now I’ve built a following that way. People share it, even though they like my cooking status, they’ll start to share the tips I use to grow my business.
It really depends on the platform, but also because I’m really heavily involved in my industry I attend a lot of events. I’ll take my business cards, but I don’t just stack them in a pile—I send emails and add people to LinkedIn. I don’t just attend events locally, but globally. So I have people connected from all around the world. Before coronavirus came about, I was actually supposed to be in France this month representing the Illinois real estate agents at a global conference. I was a delegate, bringing back 400 investments to the state. Unfortunately, in this climate, that conference has been postponed. But going to those conferences, I meet people from all over the world and all walks of life, and that helps me grow my social media base. Like I said, I love LinkedIn because you don’t necessarily have to be connected with people but they can see my posts.
Q: Have you brought any of your music skills into your content?
I haven’t posted a lot lately, but I definitely will occasionally post a video of me playing piano or something like that. Not too long ago I was doing a tribute concert to Jay-Z, and the artists had a live band and singers and I was on piano. Some of the people I’m connected with in the industry ended up being at the concert, so it was nice for them to see me in a different light—behind the stage—as opposed to in a boardroom. They see, “Oh, he’s not just a robot.” There is a human side to you.
Q: You’re under 30 and you’ve gotten on boards. How did you make that happen, and what’s practical advice you can give to people to help them network like that?
As I kind of mentioned, when I first got in this industry I thought it was just: get a lead, do a showing, close a deal. But then I realized, “Man, real estate is so much larger than that.” So I started to get involved. My first committee I got involved with in Chicago was called the Young Professionals Network. That kind of gave me my start into the committee and board side. From there, I’ve been able to grow and move up, and now I sit on the Chicago Association of REALTORS® board of directors, also the National Association of REALTORS® board of directors, and I’m also a part of the government relations committee for the International Council of Shopping Centers. These types of things allow me to position myself as an expert in my field, but you have to start small and build your way up. Being on these boards and committees has allowed me to build relationships with people all over the country.
I think my first committee that I joined was back in 2015, so it’s been a five year process for me to get where I am now. But it was relationships and consistency with people seeing how hard I work. And from a business standpoint, some of the issues that I lobby against help me with my clients—it’s helped me do business. I’m on the forefront when we talk about property taxes and property rights. We talk about things that affect not only homebuyers but commercial property owners, so it looks good when I can call my client and say, “Hey, I was in Springfield, Illinois, lobbying on your behalf. I was talking to Congress and saying these are your issues.”
I had the opportunity to partner with the board I’m on and another local community organization, and we were able to furnish a home for a family of seven who were previously homeless for over ten years. So this organization places them in a home and pays their rent for up to two years and helps them with job placement. And I posted the video on my business pages—you should’ve seen the kids light up. They were just happy to have a dining room table. They were the most gracious and grateful kids I’ve ever seen. To be able to do that on a community level, and from a personal standpoint, it just adds a feel good touch to see that I’m helping the community.
Q: What’s your one tip you’d give right now for someone who is trying to drum up business and get leads in the door?
Use social media—it’s free. You’re not going to hit it out of the park on the first go-around. It takes consistency. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of DJ Nice, but he did an online Instagram set this past weekend. He initially had about 300,000 to 400,000 followers. He started Thursday going live on Instagram. By Saturday he had grown to over 1.2 million followers. He had Michelle Obama and Diddy tuning in, and it went viral. He kept consistent with it and didn’t stop because he knew that everyone was home quarantining with nothing to do. But people still want to get up and dance and have a good time, so he brought the club to you. Using Instagram Live, he was able to grow his following in a matter of 24 to 48 hours.
I hear this phrase all the time and it holds so true: “Your network is your net worth.” When you’re on social media building your platform, you want to build your network. Not just your cousins, you start there, but that’s why I say I use LinkedIn because now I’m connected with presidents of this company and that company. And I know that they see my posts. It’s so ironic when I see these people in person, because I may connect with them on social media prior to meeting them. But when I see them in person, people will come up to me and know me, “Oh, I saw your post, it’s so great to actually meet you.” And they may have never even liked my post. But it’s amazing to me that people know who I am and know what I’ve been up to. These are prominent people in my industry. So use social media and build that platform—it’s completely free.
Q: What routines do you implement in your life that have driven success for you?
For me, this industry will drive you nuts if you allow it. I try to get up in the morning and take time to meditate and reflect, sometimes it’s just quiet. For me, that helps me re-center and get my thoughts together. I try to take the time to refocus. I may listen to podcasts or read a book or do some type of self-development, and look at what’s going on in my industry. Whatever that looks like for you as an individual, take time for yourself.
I’m also consistent with it. A lot of people looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to open up my own real estate brokerage. But within the first year, I was seeing so many great things develop. Me winning REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30. I also won Connect Media’s commercial real estate award. I’m currently doing one of my biggest listings to date. So many great things have happened within this short span of time, but it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t stay consistent and stay the course. Setting time for myself, staying consistent, not giving up, and building relationships—and continuing to learn. The way you grow is to be that expert that people look to for information, and once you can do that, even if the information might be on some other platform, as long as you position yourself people will always need you to conduct business.
Connect with Moses:
- Get involved in your local community—in some type of board, charity, or community event.