The path of our careers is much like our very lives. As they mature, different needs come to the forefront. Early on, we might be looking for ground-level education, recognition, and establishment. Later on, in this vital timeline, the emphasis might turn to expanding our business or growing our network. Ultimately, as we near retirement, the focus would more likely be on succession planning and possibly giving back to the causes we care about, and to the communities that supported us on our journey.
Speaking just for myself, I know I would not be in my current position without making my presence known in the industry. Watts Realty Co., Inc., AMO is involved in no fewer than six local and national business associations, and I believe those connections have been a key part of our longevity. I know the same is true for so many of my colleagues throughout the real estate industry. No matter your discipline, be it brokerage, property management or any other sector, there’s great value to be found not just in membership, but involvement as well.
Let’s be clear, I’m not soliciting memberships here. What I’m doing is urging professionals in all walks of the industry to take full advantage of the memberships they already have, to look beyond the immediate need, and grow your network through greater involvement. And then to become part of someone else’s solution.
Here’s why: Nobody will fight for your business more than you. If your current interest in your trade association is, let’s say education, then I ask you to look beyond, to learn what legislation might affect your business growth, and explore what your group is doing in terms of advocacy. As I mentioned in my last column, the coalitions being formed at the national level are a strong and diverse voice on Capitol Hill. I urge you to add your voice to that effort.
I also urge you to consider giving back to the industry that has given you a rich, stable and varied career. If your interest now is employment or networking opportunities, you’ll find ample support from others in your association. But this is a two-way street, and as you develop those relationships, it’s important to extend your hand to reach out and help someone else. It’s a way of saying, “thanks.”
Here’s a case in point: In the course of the recent 2020 Virtual IREM Summit, I’m happy to report that the IREM Foundation, through an event we named Cheers to your Peers, raised some $35,000 in scholarship funds. I bring this up now because that was the direct result of active members volunteering to support a cause bigger than themselves. No matter the phrase you want to use, giving back or paying it forward, the result was the same; members raising their hand to help those just getting started--our future leaders.
There are certainly many reasons to limit participation. Limited time and conflicting priorities are certainly key among them. We hope that, as those drivers change, members would revisit the greater benefits that their associations offer, be it a job bank, committee activity, or deal-sharing such as CCIM offers. And then, while taking advantage of the benefits, pitch in, offer your time, experience and connections to help move the organization forward.
This, by the way, is how tomorrow’s leaders are identified and cultivated. Leaders develop organically with greater involvement in their organization, and I can’t name one group that doesn’t have some version of a Next Gen Advisory Board. Neither is there an association that doesn’t seek to increase diversity and inclusion within its ranks. Therein lies the future of any industry that seeks to ensure successful succession.
For myself, this industry has supported my family for generations. We give back because we’ve gained so much. And we gained so much because we got involved.
Whatever association you’re tied to, take and grow from the benefits offered. And as you take, give back. We’ll all be better for it.
Chip Watts, CPM, CCIM, is the 2021 IREM President. In addition, he serves as president and executive CPM for Watts Realty Co., Inc., AMO, in Birmingham, Ala.