Last week, Part & Parcel hosted our first professional development webinar, “The Future of the Land Pro”. There, founder Jon Yoachim delved into how far the land profession has come, where it’s headed, and what current and future land pros can do with that information today. Read on for a recap!
Automation vs. humanity
It’s no surprise that humans are considerably more accessible than ever before which, as Jon points out, is a huge departure from the way business used to be conducted. Of course, while we no longer have to wait weeks or even months to correspond with one another, this era of tech-driven communication doesn’t come without its pitfalls: “As, we are more and more integrated (with emails, texts, instant messages, spam calls, apps, etc.), we start to shut down. We close ourselves off and our default becomes rejection.”
Because of that, Jon doesn’t expect the need for person-to-person interaction to go away any time soon and challenges land pros to keep a people-focused approach to their roles.
“As we continue to trend towards more virtual reality, I think this will only intensify the situation,” he predicts. “Letters, calls, and emails to landowners will be less and less effective. I’m sure we’ll still see the majority of communication being [done electronically], but the real deals, the ones that matter, will always rely on our expertise in navigating the human condition. We need to focus on mastering our craft.” And the land pro’s craft, according to Jon, is not in securing rights or agreement; it’s communicating and connecting with people.
New technology vs. tried-and-true
New technology needn’t be seen as contrary to the tried-and-true tools of the trade. As Jon points out, “Email, spreadsheets, and time and expense apps [are] all wonderfully handy bits of software that can make your job easier.
Jon also advises those that are intimidated by technology not to think of these mechanisms as a completely different way of doing things, but rather simply another tool in their professional development. He also goes on to advise that land pros make an effort to learn the ins and outs of commonly used software tools, lest they miss out on crucial tips that could save them time (and ultimately money).
Unfortunately, this can be a tall order considering the sheer amount of tools currently in use in the industry. But Jon prefers to view this as an opportunity (for now) rather than a hindrance, stating, “You’re always welcome to try to show [clients] other programs or processes that you have used with success in the past. But often they’re already committed and unwilling to change. In that case, just appreciate that you’re getting paid to learn something new that will make you more valuable as a land pro.”
Specialization vs. diversification
Jon urges land pros to be wary of pigeon-holing themselves; as his decades of experience have taught him, the land profession moves in tides. As such, one’s core competencies shouldn’t be tied to a particular industry.
“I definitely believe that having a specialty that you excel at is the
goal and something that you should work towards. You know the more elite you are in your specialty, the less replaceable you are for those in need of your services. However, if you allow yourself to become subpar and all other areas, you’ve put yourself in a risky situation where there is a short, if there is a short-term or long-term lack of need for your specialty you’re, you’re out of work.”
In short, if your focus is too narrow, you leave yourself at the mercy of fluctuation.
Stability vs. profitability
Speaking of fluctuations, Jon urges land pros to think of the value they bring to the
table when armed with a diverse set of skills and experience. “As land pros, we have the opportunity to work in multiple industries, each with its pros and cons, and all of which are susceptible to political influence and cyclical in nature.”
By diversifying your capabilities, Jon posits that you can take advantage of the boom periods of any industry, creating maximum stability and profitability
Future-proof your career as a land pro
Jon ended the webinar with some actionable tips to future-proof your career as a land pro.
- Focus on the human element: As Jon points out, there are thousands of quick and affordable courses online available through a myriad of different vendors (including Part & Parcel!) to help you master your communication and negotiation skills.
- Don’t be a one-trick pony: Protect yourself by investing in your professional development and becoming adept in multiple industries. Doing so will give you the resilience to stay employed and help you capitalize when times are good.
- Find (other) ways to get out of your comfort zone: You can do this by broadening your base and being open to other opportunities, joining different industry associations, and attending industry events. Jon also advises finding peers or mentors to lean on, as well.