Last week, I got in a healthy debate with one of my friends about if nightlife was a worthless whirlwind of debauchery or a powerful networking tool. I argued that anyone you met in a club was probably sleazy and untrustworthy. Only regrettable activities resulted from frolicking around New York at night. She argued that she's built her entire PR empire off of clients she's known through the party circuit, and that powerful alliances ensued.
Granted, nightlife and networking have always gone hand-in-hand. But how often do these relationships actually result in solid business deals? Can we really use business advancement as an excuse to party until the wee hours at Bijoux? To what extent is professional advancement justification to party?
To get some answers, I decided to ask real estate mogul and New York scencester Jaf Glazer. As Managing Director as Conquest Advisors Real Estate Firm, Jaf acquired an impressive network of entrepreneurs, celebrities, and socialites with whom he is frequently spotted at the hottest events around the world. Over the years, he's become the go-to source for all things real estate by his A-list social circle. Jaf closed on some impressive deals finding the perfect Hamptons Estate for Tenjune in SagHarbor, NY for Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm, and finding Australian Supermodel Miranda Kerr her dream New York City condo. Glazer cannot disclose details of many of his clients due to respect of client confidentiality, but a source reveals that he's been spotted around New York showing apartments to actor Joaquin Phoenix, a member of the Versace family, and a certain Celtics basketball player. If anyone could tell me exactly how business and late-night clubbing intermingle, it was this guy.
What's your take on New York nightlife? I think New York nightlife is essentially what makes New York so unique. In most parts of the country, nightlife shuts down by 2 AM the latest and people utilize it as a way of getting together with old friends and escaping the mundane of every day work life. Most of us New Yorkers, however, are working 24/7. Even when we are not in the office, we are out networking not only to meet potential new friends or significant others but also people that we can potentially collaborate with on future projects and of course potential new clients.
I find myself thinking about my business literally every minute of every day, so out of office events and nightlife give me an opportunity to work even when the office is closed. When I first started out in real estate, going out and networking were a great way to initially meet clients. Now most people I meet already know what I do and when introduced they approach me to find ways we can work together. Basically, when I was younger I stayed out a lot later and tried to make it out to as many events as possible, so a great network came as a result of that. Now that I am older, I have become way more selective with the events I attend and only go to ones I know will be valuable work-wise, I don't enjoy staying out and closing down the clubs.
What do you love about nightlife? What do you hate? What I love about nightlife is that most people I run into at the places I go have the same mentality about their own businesses. Most of the time at the events I attend, I am surrounded by highly successful individuals who are eager to meet likeminded people that they can collaborate with. I tend to have a lot of people come to me at events to discuss the market or ask for help in their property search, which is nice because it helps me remain a top of mind go-to source for real estate among my friends.
What I hate is that as a workaholic, even nightlife feels like a job. There are so many events going on every day of the week that you have to attend in order not to offend anyone and it can be very draining physically. Sometimes, I do want to just go out and hang out with friends without thinking about work, but it becomes practically impossible because people know what I do, and I almost always have a few people approaching me to discuss real estate.
There is also a great deal of superficiality and I frequently see people out at the clubs trying to put on a show or prove a point in order to get attention. By now I've seen enough that I can see right through it to determine a person's true intentions. It's also frustrating that my reputation as a luxury broker causes people to approach me trying to find out scoop on who my latest clients are and what gossip I can provide them with. However, I respect my clients' privacy and cannot ever speak about who I am working with and what investments they are making.
Can business deals result from people you meet on the party circuit? Or is the scene more a place just to wine and dine clients you already have? I think business deals can absolutely result from people you meet out. It usually happens when you meet people through those you already know, but wouldn't ordinarily meet otherwise. Most successful people in the scene travel a lot and when they are in town the daytime is time to do straight business. However, at night is when people loosen up a little and are open to hearing new ideas and seeing collaboration potential in people they wouldn't normally see. In my field, everyone I meet can be a potential client being that no matter what industry you are in you probably at one point or another will need some type of real estate asset for use or investment purposes.
It's also great to have relationships with all the top people in nightlife when my clients need to be entertained. They want good people at their events and usually also look at me as a conduit because many of my clients would be assets to their network. When it's a give and take relationship I often introduce them to great people, and they really appreciate it.
What are your venues of choice for entertaining clients? Why? For dinner I like to take my clients to either Cipriani in Soho or Mercer Kitchen. They are located in Soho, which is my favorite part of New York, so it's easy to navigate afterwards should they decide to grab a drink after or have a full night on the town. These places are also quiet enough that you can actually have a decent conversation and also big enough so they do not make the client feel uncomfortable/ claustrophobic.
As for drinks and going out I like to find out what private events are going on during the weeks that I am taking clients out, because these also tend to be quieter giving me more opportunity to socialize with them and they tend to have a better crowd than the regular nightclubs because it is hand-picked for the specific event. I usually know a lot of the people at the private events and love to make introductions between people that I know that can benefit them, because ultimately my clients are my friends and there is no better way to gain their trust than to help them in any way I can.
If clients insist on going to clubs I usually go to Rose Bar, Bijoux or One Oak. These places have the best crowds in New York in my opinion and I tend to run into a lot of familiar faces as well, allowing me to make good introductions between clients and friends.
If someone wanted to go out to network, what venues would you suggest they go to and why? Gallery openings are always great for networking, and parties during fashion week. I think anything you go to that's relatively early is great for networking, I mean you're a lot more likely to make lasting connections with people before they are completely drunk. Rose bar, Cipriani Upstairs before 2 AM are also good venues.
What are your top 3 favorite events you attended this month? I would have to say Domenico Dolce's 50th Birthday Party in Milan at Principe, the Russian Vogue event held in an amazing chateau in Milan, and the World Wildlife Funds Benefit held at a castle in a forest right outside of Paris.
Then since we were already sitting down, I thought I'd try to get some insider real estate advice as well...
What area in New York has the most promising real estate and why? Definitely Bowery- retailers have been very eager to find spaces there for their stores, and several major fashion brands have approached me inquiring about spaces in the area. The area's zoning rights are also highly favorable for developers of condos, hotels, and commercial spaces because there are fewer limits on new construction.
How should we act real estate-wise with the current economic crises? Because of the economic crisis, it is no longer a seller's market. It is a good time for buyers to now get in to the properties they want, and actually bargain. A lot of buyers are now able to make offers below asking price and sit on their offers. Being persistent with their initial low offer is likely to be more successful, because sellers are going to eventually come down if they realize the market may work against them and are eager enough to get rid of the property.