By Sarah Trefethen
Connie Alimena is rarely in her office. Instead she is in four or five meetings a day with attorneys, brokers, bankers and developers, stopping by their offices or meeting up for coffee, making introductions or catching up.
Her business is selling title insurance for Statewide Abstract Corporation, but she says her real business is building relationships.
“I thought I didn’t want to be in sales because I had this vision of salespeople as these people who are relentless, and there are some like that,” she said.
“But I have a slower approach, working with someone I like and have a relationship with. It’s getting to know them, getting to like them, getting them to like you so that they want to work with you.”
Title insurers usually come into a deal at the very end, but Alimena says she tries to be more involved.
Her carefully maintained network of contacts allows her to operate as a sort of matchmaker to the real estate industry. She is frequently called on to connect investors and lenders, she said, and introduce clients to lawyers or brokers with a particular expertise.
“I’ve been in that situation where we’re at the table and I’ve brought everyone together, and that’s really the best part of what we do,” she said.
Alimena has a law degree from New York University, but she said she knew even before graduation that practicing law was not for her.
Her first experience in sales was as a sales administrator for Lexus, the car company, and she got into real estate when she went to work for a mortgage company.
It was her boss at the mortgage company who suggested that her legal background would serve her well in the title industry, she said, and helped put her in touch with Statewide, where she started in 2006.
The market downturn in 2008 coming so soon in her career was an unexpected boon, she said, because the people left in the industry became very focused on networking and building connections.
“I think it worked for me, because I look back now and say it was quite a difficult time to start out, but the people who met with me at the time were willing, and had the time,” she said. “That might not have happened in the heyday.”
The White Plains-based Statewide, a family-owned company, is a place Alimena says she’s happy to have ended up.
“They’ve been wonderful with me in respect to growing my business,” she said.
In her free time Alimena enjoys gym classes, including spinning, aerobics and kick boxing. She taught classes herself when she was in college and law school, and in 2000 she ran the New York marathon.
The 44-year-old lives in Westchester with her 16-year-old twins, Eric and Nicole. She doesn’t expect her kids to go into real estate — her daughter hopes to become a veterinarian and she says she could see her son in business or the sciences — but she says she still hopes they learn from her example.
“No matter what field they choose I have taught them to connect with as many people as possible because being competent isn’t always enough,” she said. “The world is, I think, largely who you know as you never know what doors someone will open for you.”