Mergers aren’t for everyone. Often there’s no overarching reason or desire to merge, but there is a middle ground. I’d bet any association could find at least one program, service, or event that would benefit from collaboration with another REALTOR® association.
From shared professional standards administration to joint conventions to cooperative education seminars, associations save time, money, and effort by combining resources. There are dozens of examples of collaboration and shared programs (see sidebar), but one that I’ve seen executed successfully every time is joint leadership training, making it an ideal first shared event for any association.
I have facilitated a number of these joint leadership training sessions over the past couple of years and would like to share the lessons learned from the AEs who helped coordinate them.
The driver for joint leadership training is usually the AE, who may have heard about other associations doing similar programs. Typically, one AE likes the idea, then contacts nearby AEs to discuss the possibility. Some of the most common reasons for promoting shared training for directors and committee leaders are cost and time efficiencies, as well as synergy.
Achieving volunteer buy-in for joint leadership events is easy, considering most appreciate the opportunity to network with their peers from other -areas and share experiences and expectations. Plus, the advantages of cost savings (perhaps a better -
venue or more dynamic speakers) never hurts, nor does the fact that partnerships also mean more fun.
Because most association leadership training sessions cover topics that every leader needs to know—fiduciary duties, roles and responsibilities of the directors and committee leadership, staff and volunteer relationships, and meeting management—it makes sense to combine efforts. However, associations that offer joint training also set aside time before, during, or afterward for the individual organizations to review their specific bylaws, policies, strategic plans, and budgets.
Some hurdles to jump
All the glitches you might encounter while planning an individual leadership training session are compounded in a joint event. Coordinating the date and time seems to be the biggest challenge for most. Selecting the location can also be a challenge if the associations are a good distance apart. Yet, the extra work is worth it, AEs say. In the end, most associations that launch joint leadership training make an annual tradition of their collaborative event.
Thanks to the AEs who contributed their ideas to this article, including: Susan Phillips, Northeast Georgia Board of REALTORS®; Jerry Panz, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®; Elsie Abramo, West Essex Board of REALTORS®; and Brandy Purcell, Northern Black Hills Association of REALTORS®.
Your Joint Leadership Training Checklist
- Identify other associations that would be natural partners (e.g., neighboring associations), then contact their AEs to broach the subject.
- Once you have other AEs on board, have each contact their president and volunteer leadership.
- Determine decision makers and decision-making process. Will majority rule? Or must all involved agree? Will you establish a joint planning team?
- Draft a budget and cost-sharing arrangement. Are all costs equally divided among associations? Or divided based on number of participants?
- Discuss possible topics and facilitators, following up with facilitators on possible dates and program ideas.
- Finalize topics and schedule a date, time, and location.
- Develop marketing materials for attendees.
- Obtain post-event feedback from attendees and elected leaders. Plan for next year.
Alice Martin, RCE, CAE, GRI, is vice president of Association Leadership Development with the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Contact her at
312-329-8320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.