Laura Lee Berger, Bob Clark and Mark Mason took their seats at the head of the board room table at the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® (SPAAR) where they were panelists for the first-ever Leadership Panel, an opportunity for members to learn firsthand about the different ways they can be involved.
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
“I didn’t set out with a formal plan to become involved in the association, but as I participated in activities, the first being a charitable golf tournament, everyone I met was welcoming. Over time, I became increasingly involved,” said Bob Clark, presidentelect of the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® as well as a SPAAR past president. “Even though we’re competitors in our businesses, as members we collaborate on many aspects in real estate and together we’re an important voice, especially for those who may not otherwise be heard.”
With more than 20,000 REALTORS ® throughout Minnesota, 1.2 million REALTORS® nationwide and, in SPAAR’s case, 7,300 m embers locally, members’ voices are not only heard loud and clear, but they carry weight on important issues.
SPAAR member Mark Mason echoed Clark in finding himself getting more and more involved simply because of the positive interactions he had with other members and a supportive environment from the get-go. “On the one hand it can be a challenge to be involved because we’re all busy running our own businesses, but I found that if I’m passionate about something, it’s relatively easy to find the time.”
Mason has been a SPAAR member since 2010 and currently serves as a director on SPAAR’s board as well as a member of both the executive and finance committees.
Over the past few years SPAAR has created various opportunities for members to get more involved in the association and network with other professionals.
Last fall, members took part in one of these opportunities called Leadership SPAAR, where they rotated turns on camera for media training, one of the day-long training exercises. Now starting its third year, Leadership SPAAR offers opportunities ranging from business etiquette training to hearing from experts in the real estate industry to participating in Housing Day at the Capitol and meeting with their representatives. Leadership SPAAR graduates have gone on to serve on association committees, represent SPAAR at the mid-year conference in Washington DC, and serve as spokespeople on behalf of the industry.
“The connections I’ve made make it really easy to reach out and ask others what’s working or what they’re hearing,” said panelist Laura Lee Berger. “In many ways the local association feels like family.”
SPAAR plans to roll out a mentorship program in 2019 that will match seasoned leaders with those in their first couple of years. Mentors and mentees will be matched according to areas of interest, experiences and goals.
Being involved is also good for business. Mason experienced an unintended consequence firsthand. A client was deciding which REALTOR® to work with and chose Mason after seeing he served on SPAAR’s board of directors.
SPAAR, like other associations, provides many opportunities to help members grow both personally and professionally. Members can apply to serve on one or more committees, which typically meet monthly with occasional events, so while the time commitment is minimal the service is great.
Some committees offer experiences beyond the local level. For Berger, serving on the government affairs committee, gave her the opportunity to represent the association in Washington DC on the issue of tax reform.
“Being involved provided clarity on the issue and allowed me to provide insight to others,” said Berger. “It was a great experience to have the knowledge and confidence to educate others, and that wisdom translated into my business and selling homes. It’s fascinating to see how things compare at the local versus the state and national levels.”
It’s common for association members to participate in an event or serve on a committee and realize there’s a natural progression to serving in another capacity or attending a conference on a topic because of an intriguing issue. The more involved members become the more a person’s network grows.
“If you witness a hint of interest in someone, ask them to get involved,” Berger said. “Or, ask what their interest is, and share some ideas so they can contribute in a way that is natural to them. It’s always nice to be asked.” JENNIFER KOVACICH