At the State and Local Forum on Global Business in San Francisco last month, leaders on the association staff and member side gathered to discuss best practices, new ideas and challenges involved with starting or growing global programs at REALTOR® organizations. The next hypothetical scenario from the Forum focused on attempting to start global programs in an association where there is little to no backing for such efforts:

We are a mega board with no history of support for global business. The staff has turned a blind eye to the opportunities in their local market for their membership. Global investment abounds and very few members know how to properly conduct a transaction with a foreign buyer or seller. Staff is overworked and not interested in taking on one more business track. The members are knocking at the door asking for education and networking opportunities. They are actually looking to a neighboring association to get the services they are looking for. What can we do as volunteers to make this work?

Here are some of the ideas the group came up with at the meeting:

  • If any nearby associations have global programming, contact members and staff who are involved with that for advice on starting your own programs. They may even open up membership in their global business council to REALTORS® from other associations.
  • If you’re a member of an association that is reluctant to develop global education and networking offerings, seek out these opportunities at the state and national level.
  • Look for information about conducting international transactions and global business trends on
  • Gather member signatures for a petition, try to get on the agenda at board meetings and figure out other ways to make sure association leaders are getting the message about the demand for global programs.
  • Look into applying for an NAR Diversity Grant to get seed funding for starting global initiatives.

And here’s more advice from the staff at NAR:

  • Sometimes it’s a matter of plain old timing. If the association is bogged down in a major new project or program, it may be prudent to wait for things to settle down before trying to get the ball rolling.
  • Members should look for someone who could be supportive — someone on the board of directors or in line for leadership. Find CIPS designees in your area. Build a business-based case that will get attention from the association. NAR has comprehensive research on foreign investment and activity in your state you can use for any presentation or pitch you make.
  • AEs: When it comes to staffing, find out who has the most interest in global and encourage them to take on this new committee. Send them to the CIPS Global Programs for Associations course and attend other associations’ “global days.” Contact Brian Summerfield at NAR Global for information about starting global programs at your association. He can set up a conference call, a virtual meeting, or a one-on-one meeting or group presentation, as the situation necessitates.

Read the last post on Global Challenges discussed at this year’s Forum.