Great Ideas In: Member Outreach

Younger members crave "status boosting" community outreach opportunities, where they can help build a Habitat for Humanity house or plant a community garden, then post about their good deeds on social media to their friends and potential clients.

"When my association applied for the Tier 1 Smart Growth Grant through NAR, I was shocked by how easy the process was. We received a $1,500 grant and used it to host a four-hour continuing-education course designed by NAR called 'Smart Growth in the 21st Century.' We offered it to members for free and the response was outstanding."
— Amy DuBose, RCE, AE, Bryan-College Station Regional Association of REALTORS®, Texas

Although communicating value is more powerful than listing programs and services, that doesn't mean that you should throw out your benefits brochure. The Portland Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® in Oregon distributes its four-page member benefits and value brochure with dues mailings and posts it online.

"Our YPN council members know how to draw crowds, and they try to personally invite members to events instead of just relying on email blasts or Facebook invites. More younger members attend events because fellow young members are planning the content and reaching out."
— Jenny Gailey, Communications and Professional Development Director, Rockford Area REALTORS®, Ill.

Attendance at the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®' annual Residential Market Update has nearly doubled in the last five years since the association made an effort to attract millennials. Content is key to connecting with members, and for millennials, the value proposition of any event needs to include a philanthropic component and a business or personal improvement portion.

The Dayton Area Association of REALTORS® has programmed its member management software to wish members a happy birthday and a happy anniversary of when they joined the association.

The West Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS® acknowledges REALTORS® who have passed away with its REALTOR® Memorial, a park-like setting on the southwest side of the association's headquarters. Anyone who was a member at the time of their passing has their name etched in granite as a permanent tribute. 

The Washington REALTORS® "Put the R on Your Car" bumper sticker campaign was successful in fostering REALTOR® pride throughout the state. More than 650 members submitted photos of the "R" bumper stickers on their cars.

Develop a plan for each social media campaign that will build community and conversation around the item or program that you're featuring. For example, don't plan on just using social media as a distribution channel for your CE class campaign; post thought-provoking questions about why members should take this class.

"The gap between broker and association is growing. Those associations that have decent broker relations tend to have more relevant education. Those who don't end up offering the same basic classes over and over again to members who won't implement a thing." 
— Nobu Hata, Director, Industry Outreach and Engagement Strategy, National Association of REALTORS®

"The panel of past state presidents discussing their personal leadership journeys—their challenges and successes—can get very personal, emotional, and gratifying for all involved [at the association's leadership training]. Watching the connections that form between our great past leaders and those who will be following in their footsteps is magical." 
— Steve Francks, RCE, CAE, CEO, Washington REALTORS®

Allow younger members to lead, because they generally don't like being told what to do and how to act. Work with them to create a member value program that may look a little different than it did a few years ago. As an association, be willing to let go of programs that will not serve your new dynamic and energetic membership. 

A woman standing in front of a house for sale sign, holding a briefcase and phone

Mentor matchmaking between seasoned pros and less experienced members is a powerful draw. One-on-one advice from industry veterans is one of your association's most valuable assets, and you can offer it to newer members for free.

Launch a YPN and a YPN Facebook group that blend the power of technology (24/7 access to your association) and the power of the personal (social networking online and in person at fun events). 

Recognize and support your young members with a rookie of the year award, a young professional service award, or a stipend to attend a state or national real estate event.  

Great broker events begin with asking brokers about current issues they face and using tools such as SurveyMonkey to poll their interests. Discover their concerns so you can plan a meaningful agenda that is timely, practical, and valuable to brokers.

The Iowa Association of ­REALTORS® hosts broker summits that attract more than 100 brokers at each event, including many from rural communities. Recent topics have included risk management (with a focus on rural issues), local economic development, and the benefits of participation in advocacy.

Always charge a small fee ($15 to $50) for events because if you give it away, it has less perceived value. Plus, whenever possible, offer CE credits.

"If you have a great education program, people are going to want to come, and they're going to want to pay for it. But if you throw garbage out there, they're not going to come back. You only get one, maybe two chances to show a member that you offer quality education that will help them grow their business."
 — Jim Haisler, RCE, MRE, CEO, Heartland REALTOR® Organization, Ill. 

With funding from NAR's Commercial Innovation Grant program, the Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® launched an education program with industry partners that attracts nationally known speakers to address cutting-edge topics facing the region.

Building or rebuilding trust among large broker members may be as simple as visiting them in their offices. Another way to encourage broker participation is to create events especially for broker-owners. 

"Texting is something our members said they'd like us to use only for urgent messages that need their immediate attention, including calls for action and legislative advocacy." 
— Steve Reese, REALTOR® and former VP of marketing, Oklahoma Association of REALTORS®

Seek out seasoned members who have embraced technology and ask if they'll be role models for technology use. Feature them and their technology use in your print publications, ask them to become technology mentors to other members, or invite them to test new asso­ciation technology offerings and offer feedback.

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