“What about offering Toastmasters for members who want to hone their speaking skills and learn meeting management?” This question, asked in a brainstorm session of the Communications Committee at the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® (SPAAR) in summer 2018, led to the start of SPAAR’s Toastmasters chapter in January 2019. Twice monthly meetings now take place with members and countless visitors attending the meetings to work on personal and professional speaking and leadership goals. SPAAR’s Toastmasters chapter will start 2020 with 21 members and a focused curriculum called Pathways.
“Promoting an initiative that helps members to grow in their business through development opportunities is exciting, and fun to be a part of,” said Chelsea Erickson, vice chair of SPAAR’s Communications Committee, which in 2020 will be a part of projects that include involvement in its Association’s website redesign and conducting member focus groups, to name a couple of endeavors early in the year.
Do you like to share ideas or have a voice that impacts the real estate industry or creates member opportunities?
If so, Association committees are a great vehicle to be a part of, and another way to learn about opportunities as a REALTOR® or an Affiliate member.
REALTOR® Association committees are comprised of volunteer members who often have a talent or interest in a particular area or may simply want to broaden their horizons. In addition, serving on a committee gives members a chance to strengthen their leadership skills while guiding the Association’s directives.
“The governance structure of REALTOR® Associations at all three levels, local, state and national, is grassroots-based, dependent on policy direction being set by REALTOR® members,” said John Fridlington, CEO at SPAAR. “This system ensures that real world priorities and issues are addressed. The Association’s committees are the first level of that governance structure and generate recommendations that ultimately go to the Board of Directors.”
Sue Nichols, a member of SPAAR’s Diversity Committee, shared her experience after seeing a display about racial disparities in homeownership and, with interest and full support of her committee peers, sought funding and the creation of Owning Up!, a portable five-panel display that addresses the segregation within the Twin Cities housing market over the years as well as how Realtors® played a part in the divide. Ramifications of the segregation are still apparent throughout the Twin Cities today.
Nichols and other Diversity Committee members have been instrumental in educating others on this topic through the display, discussions and a partnership with Twin Cities Public Television to show the film Jim Crow of the North.
“Racial controversy in our community is a real thing, and addressing it as Owning Up! does helps to get to the root cause,” Sue said. “It has been great that the entire Diversity Committee has supported and embraced this important project. The committee was very enthusiastic, and everyone got behind it.”
SPAAR has nine committees that members can serve on with activities ranging from city programs that allow members to hear from city and school officials; service opportunities where members can give back to the communities in which they live and work; leadership forums that offer professional development; and social events where members can network with others in the business, to provide some examples.
“By serving on an Association committee, members become more knowledgeable about the subject matter that the committee covers, expand their network with fellow REALTORS® and learn invaluable leadership skills,” Fridlington said. “Those skills easily transfer to the member’s business, personal and community activities.”
As one member said best, “I’ve benefited much more than I ever expected. I feel that the more I give; I gain it back tenfold! I’ve met great people and benefited multiple times from business leads and referrals, and I’ve had a lot of fun!” Jennifer Kovacich