I recently attended my Women Presidents’ Organization meeting, where we welcomed six new members into our group. I’m always fascinated to learn about business people and their companies. We are passionate, dedicated and obsessed with our clients, employees and mission.
One of the questions we always ask our new members is, “Why did you want to join WPO?” We already know the answer because it is the same reason we all joined – we want to be part of a group of professionals who are running and growing companies to be best in class. We want to be part of a peer group that supports and helps each other succeed.
So, what organizations should a commercial real estate professional consider joining? You have many to choose from and you can join as many as you like, but I’ve found that I make better choices when I’m strategic in my approach. Take the time to develop your own professional strategic plan, identify your career path and look for organizations that will help you meet your objectives.
Building A Membership Strategy
Your membership strategy for commercial real estate organizations should evolve over the course of your career. Early on, look for organizations that provide a designation or credential that can help differentiate you from your peers.
As your career advances, your options increase. You may want to establish connections in your local community. When I moved to Atlanta in 1995, I looked for a community of women in commercial real estate. I leveraged my network and was introduced to CREW Atlanta (Commercial Real Estate Women). I found my tribe at CREW, where I’m still a member. CREW introduced me not only to some of my closest friends but also to mentors, clients and awesome women making a difference.
In 2004, right after I bought Real Property Tax Advisors, I was invited to join CoreNet Global to help them build and support the organization’s diversity initiative. As I researched the organization, I realized that it also met my objective of meeting and building relationships with my new target market, corporate real estate executives and other service providers.
Seriously consider which organizations to join. To achieve your professional objectives, you must be willing to invest your time and your money. Attending local meetings and national conferences can get expensive, so you have to be selective and stick to your plan. You also have to get involved in the leadership of an organization to maximize your experience and exposure within the organization.
Today, women and men in commercial real estate can join many organizations to benefit themselves and their businesses. Here is a short but diverse list of organizations that I think merit consideration.
1. Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW)
The CREW Network influences the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women within the profession. It offers training and referral programs, as well as opportunities to nominate fellow members for major industry awards. CREW also provides mentorship and outreach programs. This organization supplies endless ways to grow your clientele because its members are involved in every aspect of commercial real estate.
2. Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International
BOMA is one of the oldest and largest commercial real estate organizations, focusing on the people behind the buildings who keep them profitable and in working order. A BOMA membership connects you with building owners, managers, leasing professionals and developers. BOMA also supports like-minded legislation, standards and codes that protect the interests of its members.
3. The Appraisal Institute
At the beginning of my career in commercial real estate, I looked for an organization that would provide a designation or credential to differentiate me from my competitors. When I finally found my dream job in 1984 appraising real estate, the first thing I did was find the organization with the best education track and recognized professional designation. I joined the Appraisal Institute and completed my MAI designation in 1996. I’m still a member, and I benefit from their education and recognition of the MAI brand.
4. International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
ICSC is the primary trade association for the shopping center industry, including owners, developers, retailers, marketers, investors and lenders. The association maximizes its members’ profitability by arming them with accurate, up-to-date analysis on the shopping center marketplace.
5. Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM)
This management association serves the multifamily residential and commercial industries. IREM encourages ethical real estate management throughout all commercial sectors by offering certification and accreditation programs to members. As an associate member, you can tap into the pool of property, residential and commercial managers in your area.
6. Urban Land Institute (ULI)
ULI is a non-profit organization promoting responsible land use and development by educating the leaders and decision-makers who influence these areas. Many ULI members are advisers, policy-makers or CEOs that can affect the commercial real estate landscape, and are therefore beneficial contacts for any agent. Additionally, ULI’s research can arm you with the latest land-use trends and laws that may affect your specialization. The institute’s focus on sustainability also affords many opportunities to learn about green-building trends and the benefits of environmental responsibility.
7. Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR)
SIOR is an organization of real estate brokers delivering expertise to the owners, operators and executives of office and industrial real estate. The SIOR designation helps qualified agents grow their businesses, with access to mailing lists, LoopNet listings, and public relations and marketing professionals.
8. National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)
You can connect with the best and brightest in the multifamily industry by becoming an associate NMHC member. This is an elite council of professionals who publicize apartments as desirable, attractive housing options. As an associate NMHC member, you can attend some of the council’s members-only meetings and forums. You can also access NMHC’s career guidance staff and post your information on NMHC’s online membership and business directories.
Commercial real estate is a group activity. From the time a property is built, sold, occupied and resold, many companies and individuals are involved every step of the way. This means you never have to be alone in your career. So, map out your plan, and go find your tribe!
Want to talk with someone about joining a CRE organization? Contact RPTA today for more information.