Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The Young Professionals Network was founded five years ago to provide networking opportunities and encourage involvement in the association and the community. Here are four YPNs that are doing it right.
May 1, 2012
Tireless in Seattle
The 2011 NAR Leadership Summit held in Chicago was a game-changer for Georgia Wall-Schoonover, chair of the Seattle King County Association of REALTORS® YPN. “Meeting everyone from around the country was a shot in the arm,” says Wall-Schoonover, a salesperson with John L. Scott Real Estate in Bellevue, Wash. When she got back to Seattle, she reorganized the structure of her local YPN, set up bylaws, and laid out a calendar with ideas she’d picked up at the summit. New committee members decided to use YPN as a platform to raise money for charities that members were already involved with. SKCR YPN blew the roof off its February event. Held at a Mercedes dealership, the “Spotlight on Seattle” event attracted more than 400 REALTORS®, affiliates, and other Seattle business professionals and raised more than $5,000 for the Seattle Bellevue YMCA. The success came from partnering with other industries and sponsors, including Google, Jones Soda, Skinny Girl Martini, Maker’s Mark, and Cobalt Mortgage. YPN members made it their mission to tag, post, and mention the event nonstop on social media.
Mentoring takes off Chicago-Style
The Chicago Association of Realtors® YPN was organized in 2009. Taking a cue from other successful groups, such as the Minneapolis “YoPros,” 2011 Chair Grigory Pekarsky, broker-owner of Vesta Preferred Realty, launched a breakfast roundtable series featuring keynote industry experts. From there, CAR YPN developed the Mentor Series. Each month, the series spotlights a top producer via video, blog post, and breakfast roundtable. The video clip puts a face to the big names in the Chicago real estate community; Perkarsky calls the clips “a 30-second MBA.” The Mentor Series helped CAR YPN earn the YPN Large Network of the Year award in 2011. Looking to the future, Perkarsky hopes to establish an annual Mentor Academy with classes taught by industry leaders. “There is a movement of individuals who care about maintaining a high level of professionalism,” says Perkarsky. “Everyone is raising their heads higher nowadays.” W
Taking ownership in Houston
The Houston Association of REALTORS® NextGen REALTORS® Group (HAR NRG) is one of the largest in the country with a 25-member advisory board and about 6,000 members. (All Houston association members under the age of 40 are automatically signed up.) Like other successful YPNs, it has deep support from its association board and staff. To manage such a large group, HAR set up committees to manage programs, community service, sponsorship, and communications, says Courtney Johnson Rose, broker-owner of George E. Johnson Properties in Houston, and a founding member of HAR NRG. “This helps energize the advisory board and gives everyone a role and a stake in the group.” HAR NRG does it all: educational opportunities; a community service partnership with the nonprofit We Build Houston to complete home improvements for seniors; and a “20 Under 40” Award, modeled after REALTOR® Magazine’s “30 Under 30.” “We’re recognizing young real estate professionals,” says Johnson Rose, herself a “30 Under 30” in 2007, “but we’re also introducing them to the association.”
California’s Got it Covered
As 2010 president of the California Association of REALTORS®, Steve Goddard posed a challenge: Let’s have a YPN affiliated with every local association in the state. Today, the Californians are well on their way, with 50 of their 122 associations having established YPNs. “Members gain the most when their association embraces YPN,” says Tamara Suminski, salesperson with Keller Williams Beach Cities. “YPN is sharing new ideas and asking questions.” The mission of CAR’s YPN board is to help local networks connect and participate at the state level. “It gives them a taste of volunteer leadership beyond the YPN,” says Suminski, who chaired the state YPN board in 2011. The power of the network was exemplified last year when Ryan Asao, then chair of his local network (now president of the Arcadia Association of REALTORS®) introduced the Million Dollar Pledge, seeking at least 100 YPNers to pledge contributions of $10,000 in political action funds over the lifetime of their career. To date, nearly 100 members have signed on, and 15 have stepped up to become major donors at the NAR Sterling R level ($1,000 annually). “We’re creating awareness and a value system for our REALTORS®,” Suminski says. “Even those who can’t contribute can participate in calls to action. They can vote. They are empowered.”