A Little Help from Our Friends

The magazine kicks off the year with advice from a pro on the power, and pitfalls, of friendship.

January 10, 2013

We all need to shake things up occasionally. That's why, this year, we're inviting members of the Young Professionals Network to serve as guest editors. We've been talking about having guest editors since Bono edited an issue of Vanity Fair in 2007; this year, we finally threw caution to the wind. And, yes, I noticed that VF just revived the idea, with Judd Apatow editing the January comedy issue.

For this issue, we booked Deena Zimmerman (at left) a Chicago retail leasing specialist, whose style and vivaciousness bring to mind a cross between Annie Lennox and Grace Jones. If Apatow is the guy to edit a comedy issue, Zimmerman is a great choice for an issue focused on relationship building (page 26). During a two-hour luncheon, she named one colleague after another who’d helped her get her footing in real estate. In a specialty still dominated by men, she made particular note of the women who've been a guiding force in her career—from Chicago living legend Goldie Wolfe Miller to retail specialists Sharon Kahn and Jacqueline Hayes to Lauren Mitrick, a 2010 30 Under 30 honoree, who coaxed her to serve as president of the Women's Council of REALTORS®' Chicago chapter. Zimmerman went on to chair the Illinois Association's YPN, helping earn the state a Network of the Year award (page 9). Asked how she builds rapport so handily, she laughs out loud. It's important to be true to who you are, she says. "I'm as subtle as a chainsaw. I don’t know how to sugarcoat."

As a tenant rep, Zimmerman guides her clients—often novice entrepreneurs—through the six months or longer it can take to get a lease signed. "It's my job to protect them from getting into a bad deal," she says. "I want to hold their hand through every step." As a result, some of her clients have become close friends. But while she’s prone to convert clients into friends, she’s not as keen about taking on friends as clients: "What I learned the hard way is that it’s difficult for someone who’s already your friend to respect your role as a professional." Wherever you draw the line, we hope this issue gives you fresh ideas for building strong relationships. Some may bring you business; others might sing your praises without a dollar passing between you. Either way, good relationships are at the heart of a happy life and a healthy business.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor in chief of REALTOR® Magazine.