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Getting It Done: Leadership & Outreach

July 1, 2011

16 steps to finding a life-changing mentor

Whether it’s your state AE, a neighboring AE, another business leader in your community, or someone you find online, experienced professionals are typically thrilled to be asked to share their advice. Here are some tips on securing a mentor and ensuring a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

  1. List your top goals for the mentoring relationship.
  2. Brainstorm a list of prospective mentors.
  3. Research available information about them.
  4. Select the top candidates who align with your goals.
  5. Write a letter or e-mail to the mentor prospect requesting a meeting. You don’t have to divulge that you are interested in a longer-term relationship with them, just that you are interested in getting their input on what you are doing.
  6. Call to set an appointment.
  7. Prepare a short list of questions regarding their feedback on your current situation.
  8. Meet with them. If they’re willing to take time away from their office, that’s best. You pick up the tab.
  9. Ask them about their history, current situation, and goals.
  10. State your goals and ask your questions. Take notes!
  11. If you like their responses, you can test the waters with them regarding an ongoing relationship, e.g., “I really appreciate your input on this, and I’d greatly value it on an ongoing basis. Would you be willing to meet with me again next month to follow up on what we’ve discussed today?”
  12. Send a thank-you note and perhaps a gift.
  13. Review your notes.
  14. Take action on their suggestions.
  15. Call to discuss the results of those actions and request a second appointment (assuming you’re still interested).
  16. Propose a mentoring relationship. Be sure to spell out your goals and expectations, as well as your commitment to them. A written agreement will show you are serious about the commitment.

Keep in mind that although a mentoring relationship generally lasts more than just one or two meetings, neither of you is locked in. The relationship lasts as long as it continues to serve you both well.

— Adapted from “Choosing a Business Mentor (and Getting Them to Choose You),” by Scott Allen, online at entrepreneurs.about.com

Get ‘em involved: 9 ways to motivate your young members

1. Free education attracts.
For members just starting out, money is tight, but the need for education and learning is high. Market your low-cost, high-return benefits to young members. Create a free class that simply runs through what your association offers. Creating marketing materials just for them lets them know you’re listening.

2. Convince them they have value.
Regardless of actual age, rookies share the same experience of having just started out. But they may still have a lot to contribute to the association in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and fresh thinking.

3. Serve the association, serve the community.
Because local associations are often involved in all aspects of their community, service projects are a great opportunity for young, idealistic members to be visible in and learn about the community, while making a difference.

4. Never fail to appreciate their talents.
Don’t assume based solely on their age that they won’t want to be involved or won’t have real leadership skills. Actively seek out younger members for leadership positions.

5. Promote the brand.
Strengthening the REALTOR® image within your community is very important to your brand-conscious younger agents.

6. Speak their language.
With social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, many members can market with a stroke of the keyboard. Establish yourself in their virtual world with association entries in these social networks, and they will take notice.

7. Have broker, will follow.
If their broker is active, then the agents will follow. Leading by example is something Gen Xers and Yers respond to as well.

8. Launch a YPN.
By starting a young professionals network you show that connecting with young members is a priority for your association. Learn more: REALTOR.org/YPN.

9. Just ask.
Asking someone to participate is the most effective motivator. This is true not only for young members, but for all REALTORS® as well. Just connect, and find their passion, and it’ll go from there.

— Amy DuBose, RCE, e-PRO, AE, San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS®, Texas

7 steps to stop leadership conflict

Stressful times can exacerbate personality differences and increase the likelihood of conflicts between staff and volunteer leaders. Here are seven steps to avoid or resolve these toxic situations:

  1. Build relationships from the beginning with good communication and a friendly environment with volunteers.
  2. Don’t let a personality problem fester without directly dealing with it; set a time to discuss the problem one-on-one.
  3. Stop talking and just listen. Learn to restate or reframe the person’s statement or position to show that you understand.
  4. State respectfully how you feel about “the problem,” not about what the other person is doing wrong.
  5. Discover the motivation behind the conflict, which may be the other party’s personal problems, lack of self-confidence, or any number of things completely unrelated to you.
  6. Look hard at yourself to see what you might be doing to fuel the fire; then stop doing it.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You can resolve a conflict on your own simply by choosing not to engage in it in the first place.

— Alice Martin, RCE, CAE, consultant to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

Advice on being a better AE

Find a way to love your members and wear that on your sleeve. My president-elect said to me the other day that she enjoyed working with us because she could tell that “you like us.”

Today’s member is besieged at every turn by a hostile world: bad clients, no clients, deals going nowhere, bills piling up, dues increasing. When your members turn to you for advice—or just a sympathetic ear—a little empathy goes a long, long way.

—Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE, Executive Officer, Ada County Association of REALTORS®, Idaho

7 steps to stop leadership conflict

Stressful times can exacerbate personality differences and increase the likelihood of conflicts between staff and volunteer leaders. Here are seven steps to avoid or resolve these toxic situations:

  1. Build relationships from the beginning with good communication and a friendly environment with volunteers.
  2. Don’t let a personality problem fester without directly dealing with it; set a time to discuss the problem one-on-one.
  3. Stop talking and just listen. Learn to restate or reframe the person’s statement or position to show that you understand.
  4. State respectfully how you feel about “the problem,” not about what the other person is doing wrong.
  5. Discover the motivation behind the conflict, which may be the other party’s personal problems, lack of self-confidence, or any number of things completely unrelated to you.
  6. Look hard at yourself to see what you might be doing to fuel the fire; then stop doing it.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You can resolve a conflict on your own simply by choosing not to engage in it in the first place.

— Alice Martin, RCE, CAE, consultant to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

7 action steps: Keep members motivated & connected

Here are some great ideas from AEs across the country for keeping your membership strong, connected, and motivated.

  1. Break down housing data. Help members navigate the current local market with online market data in an easy-to-read format with some accompanying analysis. Seek the advice of local experts and provide it to members over a variety of media (print, online, e-mail, Webcast).
  2. Boost and diversify education offerings. “When you’re not earnin’, it’s time to be learnin’,” as the saying goes. When business is slow, your members can focus on education they’ve put off. From refresher basic education courses to those focusing on niches, such as international clients and “green” issues, associations are promoting education heavily.
  3. Be positive, personal, and understanding. Let members know you’re working for them, appreciate them, and understand their plight. All communications from your association should be upbeat, but honest and accurate. Rather than cutting back on meetings, several associations are adding new committees to increase interaction between members and staff.
  4. Develop young professionals. Young members are your leaders of tomorrow. Engage this group with a networking event for young agents or pair them with a seasoned mentor.
  5. Highlight your free services and their value. Remind your members of the free services you have always offered, such as Wi-Fi at your office, computer training, and education. But make sure members don’t confuse “free” with “worthless.” One AE tells us that adding a nominal $10 fee to an education seminar ensured a packed room and greater perceived value.
  6. Organize a community event. Finding a homeowner, organization, or cause in need of volunteer help isn’t difficult, and it’s a great way to build membership unity.
  7. Revisit the cocktail party and explore social media online. Most associations abandoned happy hours, cocktail parties, and other social meet-ups years ago because members were too busy to attend. Experiment with bringing them back as ways for members to reunite and stay connected with the association. Alternatively, launch social media groups online with a blog, Facebook page, or other medium where members can chat, post stories, and network without leaving home.

— Melynn Sight, CEO, nSight Marketing

9 essential avenues of member outreach

To reach a diverse membership, AEs must communicate using a variety of methods and platforms. The multichannel approach, although potentially labor-intensive, maximizes member engagement and personalizes communications. A member survey will reveal which combination of the following methods is best for you. 1. E-mail. 2. Text message. 3. In-person office visits. 4. Social networking. 5. Events. 6. Web site. 7. Member-ambassadors. 8. Snail mail. 9. Classes and courses.

Are you CEO material?
Here’s what boards really want in a chief executive

Strong communication skills: The best CEOs are clear and concise. Remember the simple principle: less is more. Say what you need, with no ifs, ands, or buts. You’d be surprised at how many senior executives obfuscate, reverse themselves, take multiple positions, and leave audiences confused and unimpressed.

Entrepreneurial mentality: Boards like a CEO with an entrepreneurial bent who can think beyond the obvious—who is not afraid to try out new ideas that come from outside of association management.

Strategic thinking: Every single board asks for a strategic thinker. Candidates with a strategic orientation are able to clearly articulate their vision of where the organization can be in two, three, or five years.

Business savvy: Boards want CEO candidates who have overall business experience in accounting and finance, management (of the board, the staff, the volunteers), marketing, communications, and technology. They do not expect expertise in all these areas, but they do expect the CEO to have broad experience across several fields (and to know where to brush up on the basics of these disciplines).

Ability to motivate: Boards like to see excitement and commitment—a real passion for what you are doing. This all translates into the motivation factor. Boards ask themselves, “Can this candidate get the board, the staff, and the public excited about our issues?”

— Leonard Pfeiffer, founder of Leonard Pfeiffer & Co., an executive search firm.

7 ways to build a positive image

Offer your expertise. Let your members know you’re willing to help them solve business or technology problems.

Solicit feedback. Show members you value their input by asking them to fill out convenient and frequent surveys.

Build online communities. Foster feelings of community for members by hosting a real estate issue chat room, blog, or message board online.

Have fun. Although the popularity of golf tournaments is declining, you still can find ways to show members the association’s fun side with games and entertainment at meetings.

Visit offices. AEs who frequently visit member offices say it’s an important information-gathering technique and generates invaluable goodwill.

Personalize. Eliminate one-size-fits-all service by offering communications and programs targeted at members’ diverse needs, such as rookie newsletters or technology classes for the over-50 crowd.

Rally for a cause. Unite members behind a charity or cause with fundraising or an event. You’ll build not only a house but also morale and camaraderie.

9 programs to train your leaders from NAR

Volunteer Leadership Guide. For association leaders (presidents, officers, directors, and chairs) on their leadership responsibilities. At REALTOR.org.

REALTOR® Leadership Program (RLP). For REALTORS® seeking the skills and knowledge necessary to lead local and state associations. It consists of an initial online course and two three-hour, interactive, live-presentation courses led by trained facilitators. Associations can host the courses for their prospective leaders, and courses are also offered at NAR meetings.

REALTORS® Excelling in Association Leadership (REAL) Self-Study Course. A self-guided, online, six-module course covering the basics of volunteer leadership. Available 24/7 and free.

Leadership Academy. A nine-month, in-person and online training and development program that identifies, inspires, and mentors emerging REALTOR® leaders who are actively involved at the local and state levels and would like to pursue leadership opportunities at the national level.

Leadership Summit. An annual two-day meeting hosted by the incoming NAR president, for all incoming local and state presidents and AE leadership teams to unify around the association’s messages and priorities for the coming year.

Elected Leadership Forums. Offered at NAR’s Midyear and Annual conferences for presidents and AEs to attend together. Presidents-elect are also encouraged to attend. The forums are grouped according to association membership size, so association leaders can exchange ideas and information with others from like-sized associations.

Leadership Express. Offered at the Midyear meetings for staff and volunteer leadership teams. Three 40-minute sessions, scheduled concurrently and then repeated, allow attendees the opportunity to attend two of the three workshops. The sessions focus on leadership topics and are presented by industry and management experts.
Leadership Luncheon. Sponsored by the RCE Certification Subcommittee, this luncheon, held at the Midyear and Annual conferences, features keynote speakers on industry issues.

President’s roundtable discussions. At the Midyear and Annual conferences, these information exchanges focus on a variety of topics in an informal setting to encourage sharing.

Best Books 7 skills to master business & life

To get your hands on this list of skills, you’ll have to buy Stefan Swanepoel’s new highly acclaimed book; Surviving Your Serengeti:

7 Skills to Master Business and Life. But we can tell you that he offers a unique look at seven foundational business skills all AEs need, set against the backdrop of the Serengeti with its animal inhabitants as metaphors and examples of each skill:

Endurance of a wildebeest.
Strategy of a lion.
Enterprise of a crocodile.
Efficiency of a cheetah.
Grace of a giraffe.
Risk-taking of a mongoose.
Communication of an elephant.

One key to a successful association

Leverage resources fully (budget, staff, and volunteer resources) whenever possible, through collaborative efforts with other REALTOR® and non-REALTOR® organizations.