Just starting out in CRE? We asked four industry veterans to share the advice they’d give their younger selves.

So you’ve landed your first gig in commercial real estate — a dynamic industry with countless opportunities for personal and professional growth, but one in which it can be challenging to identify achievable benchmarks for success.

How do you chart a course and stay on track? Seek out advice from the pros. Creating a network is a huge part of finding success in CRE. That’s why we asked four industry veterans to share what they think CRE newbies should know as they begin and build their careers.

Get to Know Your Competition

It’s up to every CRE professional to carve out their own path within the industry, but it certainly helps to be aware of who else is investing in commercial real estate within their niche. “You’re competing with people who are really good at what they do,” says Michael Bull, host of the Commercial Real Estate Show. He also suggests continuously brushing up on relevant technical skills as a means to stay competitive. “You better know what you’re doing — analysis and underwriting, sales and negotiation, and especially business production.”

Be Patient

As in many industries, CRE professionals often have to “pay their dues” before seeing success. “CRE can be a great business and a great lifestyle, but be prepared to pay your dues for up to 5 years before it starts paying off for you,” says Coy Davidson, Senior Vice President of Office and Healthcare Services at Colliers International and blogger at The Tenant Advisor. Putting your time in doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and it won’t necessarily feel grueling, but if you’re chasing a certain lifestyle, you’ll have to work for it.

Find a Mentor

Finding your way in a new industry can be difficult, even if you’re a few years in. Regardless of your field of work, it can be hard to navigate nuanced steps or stick to a clear path when things don’t go as expected. “I believe that choosing the right mentor is critical,” says Lee & Associates Principal Allen Buchanan. “Finding the right mentor who takes the time to share their expertise with you, is willing to allow you to fail and grow and learn, is able to be there when you fail and help show you the direction that you could have gone, that is one of the most important things to do.”

Reframe Failure

No matter what area of the industry you choose to pursue, failure is inevitable. It’s how you handle that failure, however, that sets successful people apart from the pack. “Failures don’t break a career,” says Ken Ashley, Executive Director at Cushman and Wakefield. “Fail up — make sure the ‘nos’ are leading to a ‘yes,’” he says. Nobody is immune to making mistakes — what matters more is how you learn from them.

Follow these pros on Twitter: Michael Bull, Coy Davidson, Allen Buchanan, and Ken Ashley. Here’s our full list of pros to follow on twitter.

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