By Shelli L. Menegos
Why should you join a real estate association? Is the cost worth it? What will you gain? Will joining increase your business, your network, your knowledge? These are questions which are asked frequently and any organization you are considering joining should be able to answer them for you.
Commercial real estate associations represent a collection of professionals who work together for the common goal of promoting and improving the commercial real estate industry. Members depend on the organization to brief them on important industry issues, new legislation which may impact the commercial real estate industry and other important issues and trends. Joining an association provides members with a competitive advantage because they have active, informed members within their industry which in turn provides greater benefit to their employers, owners and tenants.
Here are a few key and important areas to consider when looking at different commercial real estate organizations:
• Cost — what is included?
• Does the organization have strong advocacy, government affairs or codes committees?
• Is the association active and vibrant?
• What and how often are there networking?
• Is there a strong education program in place?
• What is expected of you as a member?
• What are the participation levels and how involved can you get?
• Are there any sponsorship opportunities and how many? What are the costs?
• Does the association have a strong, involved and active leadership?
• Is there full-time staff managing the organization, just part-time or is it a volunteer?
• What is the attendance level at the various events?
• What is the mission statement of the organization? Does it support your needs?
• Does the organization have a strong relationship with legislators, both state and federal?
• How active is the association in energy efficiency, technologies and sustainability?
• What publications are available to me as a member?
A Great Way to Expand Your Knowledge
The majority of commercial real estate associations provide an enormous amount of access to resources and information such as articles, position papers, books written by experts in the real estate field and case studies. Also, most associations offer either a magazine or newsletter or both as part of your membership. Staying informed about hot topics and issues related to the commercial real estate industry are only achievable with a membership in an active and strong association.
Growing Your Network
For the majority of people, building professional relationships is important and joining a commercial real estate association allows you to have a sense of togetherness. Because of this, you are able to support and encourage one another in reaching professional goals. Most associations offer numerous events throughout the year that allow you to connect and network with your peers. You can share ideas, ask for advice, sponsor various events and join a committee.
Since most associations have national or local meetings and conventions, you will have the opportunity to boost your career even farther by learning “best practices” or new ideas, hear about happenings in the commercial real estate world and brainstorm with others who are also looking to share and learn new information. Another great benefit of enhancing your network is that you may find a mentor to guide you with your professional needs or you may be in a position to become a mentor to someone else. Giving back, not just personally but professionally, can be one of the greatest rewards and benefits you’ll receive by joining an association.
There are many opportunities to network in virtually every committee or event on some scale. Most professional organizations have membership dues that can be a considerable amount of money. To make sure that the organization is right for you before you join and pay dues, it is usually acceptable to attend an event or luncheon as a paid guest. This will enable you to get to know the dynamics of the association, get a feel of the members and make sure it’s the right fit for you without spending membership dues.
You may want to visit, and possibly join, several organizations, but whatever you choose, it will only be effective if you use it. Regular attendance and getting active is extremely important for effective networking. As you attend the meetings, you will be recognized by more and more members as well as have the opportunity to get to know them and this supports you reaching your goal. If networking is done effectively, it can prove to be an invaluable investment in your success.
Put Your Career First
Membership should be all about opportunity — to learn, to grow and to affect positive change in the building ownership and commercial property management world. Through professional and personal contacts, you share resources, learn new information and procedures and tap into the collective knowledge and experience of leaders within Utah’s commercial real estate industry.
You want an organization that is the information source with an established track record of providing tools to make its members successful in the industry. As a member, you want and need resources. More high-level commercial real estate professionals turn to strong commercial real estate associations for the latest products and industry information than any other source.
Another important reason to consider membership in a commercial real estate organization is to take advantage of the educational offerings to expand your knowledge and expertise. Other benefits include information about seminars, training or designation classes that may be suitable for you, your staff or peers.
Most importantly, does the organization unite those individuals within your industry who want to see their businesses prosper and who want to see commercial real estate, as a whole, reach new heights? You want an organization that brings everyone together to share ideas, discusses important topics, studies the latest tools, builds new programs, and simply allow the opportunity to get to know each other a little better. By working together, there is no limit to what can be accomplished for the industry and for the communities in which we serve.
If you own or manage commercial properties such as office buildings, industrial parks, corporate facilities, educational, governmental, retail, high-rise residential, medical buildings and other real estate properties, you should look for the organization that will fit all your needs as your next step into the future and the many opportunities available for you to experience.
So, whether you are looking to network in your professional community, gain access to current events or just have some fun while meeting new people, joining a commercial real estate association is a step in the right direction. The possibilities are endless when you join, participate and get active. Remember, no matter what organization you choose, building relationships is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to network and build the necessary relationships.
And remember, there is no stronger force in commercial real estate than those who make up the industry. We drive its success. We guide its future. We make things happen. That is why it’s important that you be a part of a commercial real estate organization, which can be your greatest and most powerful tool.
Shelli L. Menegos is the executive director for the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA Utah) with over 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry and association management.