By Carolyn Schwaar
Continuing education isn’t just for members. Whether you’re just starting out in association management or you’ve been doing it for decades, professional development keeps your skills sharp and your practices relevant. For less-experienced association executives, NAR’s professional development opportunities are critical; there’s nowhere else you can learn how to be a better Realtor® AE.
NAR offers something for every level of AE and association staffer. From the latest in technology to best practices in communication and education, the list of events, online courses, intensive classroom series, and guest-speaker seminars is comprehensive and continuously changing.
There are home-study courses for the basics, advanced courses for those working toward the Realtor® association Certified Executive (rce) designation, and an annual educational conference—the AE Institute—just for Realtor® AEs and their staff specialists. In addition, there are educational opportunities for AEs at the two big NAR meetings—the Midyear Legislative Conference in the spring and the Realtors® Conference & Expo in the fall. NAR even has a special relationship with the University of Chicago, enabling AEs to earn a certificate in nonprofit management.
The goal of all of this training is to make it easier for you to excel in and enjoy your career. By taking advantage of these courses, you help ensure that your members benefit from being part of an organization that is run efficiently and provides the services they need to advance their businesses.
Here’s a profile of the professional development opportunities that await you in 2006.
At your pace, in your space
NAR delivers the essentials in association management principles through easy-to-use online, self-study courses:
Because the job of a Realtor® association executive is so broad and unique, NAR offers an online orientation resource, the Roadmap for New Realtor® AEs. Written by veteran AEs, the guide provides, in a chronological chart, a checklist of job functions and responsibilities that can guide new AEs through their first weeks and months on the job.
The Realtor® Association Management Self-Study Course (free), available only online, will increase your awareness and understanding of essential Realtor® association management and policy issues. It’s ideal for every staffer in your association. Students review or download the questions and submit their answers electronically.
For a more comprehensive education experience that doubles as preparation for the rce designation exam, move on to the Advanced Realtor® Association Management Self-Study Course ($125). Students have one year to complete each course online.
The Advanced Administrative Online Self-Study Course in Professional Standards ($75) goes beyond the information taught in NAR’s mandatory professional-standards administrator training. Study areas for this course include the Code of Ethics, the appeal process, and NAR’s Dispute Resolution System. Students have six months to complete the course online.
NAR and InternetCrusade offer e-pro for Associations ($359), a technology certification course designed for association executives and their staff specialists. The online course covers computer basics, NRDS operations, and use of the latest technology in association management.
To help you and your elected leaders determine what’s acceptable and ethical in a competitive business environment, there’s the free Ethics for Realtor® Association Staff and Volunteer Leaders, Not Always a Black and White Issue. Download materials for this classroom-format course from REALTOR.org and present it at your next leadership meeting or retreat.
Annual intensive institute
The AE Institute ($460 before March 3) is a four-day educational and networking experience specifically for Realtor® AEs. The curriculum focuses on competencies critical to the future success of the Realtor® organization. This year’s Institute in Reno, Nev., March 31–April 4, features tracks for new and experienced AEs as well as content on a wide range of topics, including law, leadership, technology, and real estate’s future.
Join the elite
The Realtor® association Certified Executive (rce) designation ($325 application fee), the only professional designation designed specifically for you, is celebrating its 15-year anniversary in 2006 (see page 30 for more on the rce designation).
Special AE sessions at national meetings
NAR’s national meetings provide many opportunities for you to network with other AEs from across the country. Free Association Management Roundtable sessions enable you to share ideas and discuss issues and concerns with other AEs. Among the other special sessions are:
* Leadership Express. This free program, presented in conjunction with NAR’s Midyear Legislative Meetings & Expo, will help you and your team effectively fulfill your leadership roles.
* Entrepreneurial Excellence Series. This free event, presented in conjunction with the Realtors® Conference and Expo, features high-caliber speakers on topics relevant to association leadership and the real estate industry.
* Lending Edge in Association Management. A new AE professional development program, tailored for AEs, presented in conjunction with the Realtors® Conference and Expo, features two-hour live programming, with a focus on association management and industry issue topics targeted to various segments of the AE constituency ($95).
* Unique University-Level Opportunity. The University of Chicago Strategies in Nonprofit Management Certificate Program ($350) combines the challenges of a classroom setting with personalized pre- and post-class assignments. Earn the certificate by completing four core and two optional full-day courses from the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies. Courses are offered in conjunction with the Midyear Meetings, Annual Conference, and AE Institute.
Learn with your leadership
Every August, the free Leadership Summit in Chicago brings incoming local and state presidents and AEs together for a full day of issue updates and collective brainstorming. The goal? To unify the organization’s message for the incoming year. Held before the August Summit is the Volunteer Leadership Training Program ($285), which is designed to help presidents-elect and chief staff association executives focus on their leadership roles and responsibilities, forge a strong partnership, and set goals and expectations.
Webcasts for AEs
NAR’s occasional Webcasts enable you, your leadership, and your staff to stay up to date on timely topics. This past fall, more than 200 AEs tuned in to a Webcast hosted by NAR General Counsel Laurie Janik on the association’s Internet listing display policy. Stay tuned to your weekly Internal News Service e-newsletter for upcoming topics.
Be All You Can Be
Looking for a roadmap to personal and organizational growth? Take advantage of the discount from Realtor Benefitssm Program partner The Pacific Institute. TPI will teach you how to maximize both your personal potential and that of your association by changing the habits, attitudes, beliefs, and expectations that inhibit high performance.
NAR members and AEs receive a 10-percent discount on Investment In Excellence Today, TPI’s first self-paced, computer-based learning system. The course combines decades of research and experience into 25 five- to 10-minute video lessons that will help you build a creative environment and instill you with a renewed sense of purpose.
Associations can also receive a 10-percent discount on customized education, consulting, and professional development solutions. TPI, founded in 1971 by Lou and Diane Tice, offers curricula and consulting services in 58 countries and 16 languages. For more information, call 866/559-0443 or visit www.thepacificinstitute.com/nar and type in your NRDS ID number.
How to Pay for Professional Development
For many association executives, professional development is a line-item in the association’s overall budget. These AEs have volunteer leaders who understand the direct correlation between an educated AE and a well-run association.
At the Dulles Area Association of Realtors® in Leesburg, Va., Executive Vice President Jeanette Newton, rce, has discretion on how she spends the money her board has set aside for her professional development and that of her staff. “In the long term, staff members value the interest the association takes in their achievements,” she says, “and the training elevates the value employees have to the association.”
Likewise, at The Northeast Association of Realtors® Inc., in Chelmsford, Mass., CEO Anne Rendle, rce, says her board of directors believes strongly in professional development. The budget pays for Rendle to attend both the AE Institute and American Society of Association Executives meetings and to bring one other staff member to the AEI. “For 2006, there’s another $4,000 for classes or other professional development opportunities for anyone on our staff,” she says. Typical staff classes include grammar and writing courses, Microsoft Excel training, and customer service training.
Others AEs aren’t so lucky. Laura Miller, AE at the Meridian Board of Realtors® in Meridian, Miss., finds the funds to attend the AEI in her meetings budget. Other courses are funded through her association’s general education budget, which also covers member education.
It’s often not easy to convince association elected leaders to fund AE professional development. To promote AEI each year, NAR reminds elected leaders that professional development helps you:
* Learn about and address critical industry and organizational issues
* Establish a wide network of Realtor® AE friends who can lend support and
solutions to your association management challenges
* Better meet the mission of contributing to members’ success and profitability