01/05/2012 03:52 pm ET Updated Mar 06, 2012

Toni's Take on Real Estate: When Connections Come Full Circle

I'm all about making connections: I love networking, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I've been doing it my entire life. These days my favorite way to network is by being a resource for people and sharing my real estate and experiences. Whether it's by introducing people to someone who can help them or just offering advice, I view networking as a way to make people's lives better. I've been networking my entire life -- I'm not kidding when I say I started networking in elementary school -- and funnily enough it's all come full circle.

When I was nine years old and on vacation with my parents in Puerto Rico, I plunked down in a lounge chair next to legendary singer Frankie Valli. I stared at him until he noticed the skinny fifth grader sizing him up and struck up a conversation with me (FYI: I would not recommend this mode of networking for anyone out of elementary school). But I knew -- even at age 9 -- that once you make a connection you have to keep the connection, so a few days later I slipped a handmade card under the door of his hotel room.

Of course, on my return from vacation, I told all of my friends at school that Frankie Valli was my new best friend. And of course they didn't believe me. So I called him and said, "Frankie my friends don't believe that you and I are friends," and had him get on the phone with my grade school pals to verify my claim. He was a good sport and my parents and I would go to see him in concert and say hello when he was in the area. Thus began my lifelong love of networking.

My passion for networking has served me well both in my life and in my career as a broker. Personally, I'm always happy to share my knowledge of the real estate market with friends and acquaintances old and new. I'm currently working with actor and comedian Stewie Stone, whom I met through the Friars Club. I'm a second generation Friar, and Stewie has been a member for many years. And when it was time for Stewie and his wife Frannie to sell their gorgeous 32nd floor apartment on E. 59th Street, they came to me.

Stewie and Frannie love the apartment -- all the more so because it's directly across the street from Stewie's life-long best friend and fellow showman, Frankie Valli (small world, right?). Stewie and Frannie have entertained Frankie -- and a myriad of other performers -- at the bar on multiple occasions.

It's full-circle situations like this that reinforce my love of networking. The most important assets you have are the people in your life. Widening your circle not only makes your life richer and happier AND FUN, it is also an incredible asset to your career. As a broker, I get a great deal of my business through referrals. I am personally invested in each and every one of my clients and take the time to truly get to know them and keep in touch.

Now is a great time to think about strengthening your connections for the new year ahead. Think about how you can help the people in your life by sharing what you know... And consider how you widen your circle and add new contacts. You never know what might come of it! You're never too old (or too young!) to start and I promise it will help to make 2012 your best year yet.