Most state REALTOR® Associations meet 3-4 times a year to participate in committees, attend educational events, and to network with their peers. The decisions made by leaders in attendance affect real estate by voting on political issues, consumer advocacy, and simplifying the process.
What is the magic number of how many times a group should meet?
Who came up with 4 times a year?
Who came up with 3 times a year?
Who came up with 2 times a year?
I’m thinking once or twice a year at best, that is all. Anything more is just an excuse to get away from the day to day. The reality is new technology, educational delivery methods, and social networking can replace some interactions and how decisions are made that affect the members that reside in their state.
There is no replacement for face-to-face interaction so I’m not suggesting we eliminate all meetings. I am suggesting to take a closer look at what is effective based on time, money, and energy to arrive at conclusion to act quickly on tasks that support the state REALTOR® community.
Please ask yourself the following questions:
- How much does it cost to drive to a state meeting?
- How much do the hotel rooms cost you for your entire stay?
- How long does it take to drive back and forth to a state meeting?
- What are the opportunity costs of attending a state meeting? Or in other words how much business are you sacrificing by attending this meeting?
- How many nights are you absent from your business and personal life?
The total expenses could be up to $1,000 per meeting but the actual costs including your time away from clients could be as much as $10,000 depending on your business model.
If 200 members at minimum lost $1,000 per meeting plus the costs of the venue, food, and other opportunity costs will any group consider meeting less.
Let’s address the three most common questions issues that arise:
How Do We Make Decisions in Less Time?
There are many types of decisions that can be made based on evidence articulated clearly, concisely, without emotion, and being physically present. I’ve seen many committee discussions that went overtime because one, two, or three individuals wanted to dominate the time. At the same time influential leaders sat quietly and didn’t express their viewpoint because of groupthink, time ran out, or inability to quickly form an opinion based on the facts presented.
It is much easier to formulate a sound conclusion when thought about clearly, typed out on a computer, and included researched examples. The shear spur of the moment argument may involve emotion, hinder judgment, and could be postponed until all sides were presented equally.
Shared workspaces, collaborative tools, and communication technologies may allow us to arrive at conclusions quicker however those who are not adept to using them may feel intimidated by the new technology or prefer the face to face interaction. To abandon one for the other may be suicidal for an organization.
What is the shelf life of an opinion express in a live environment? As long as they are done speaking.
How many people does that impact? Only the people who are sitting in the room.
How can we post these discussions online to where more than just the attendees of the meeting benefit?
Tools such as Google Docs, wikis, and blogs give the ability for others to share their ideas, objections, and supportive argument why they believe what they do. The challenge more traditional participants face is that they think they have to be physically present to state their case. The reality is they could share their case online in a clear and concise manner, impact more people than those who would just be in a room, and continue the conversation following the meeting instead of it ending after time is up.
How Can We Offer the Same Amount of Education?
According to a study by ARELLO (Association of Real Estate License Law Officials) there is no significant difference between learning in a live classroom and an online environment. Traditional teachers and learners gasp at this statement but there is hard statistical data that proves this point.
Many adult learners prefer the live classroom environment over online because they can interact with a teacher, ask questions, and provide feedback based on their own personal experiences. However I’m sure you have taken a bad class from a teacher just as much you have taken a bad online class. There are really good online classes that offer video, audio, and text that enhance the subject matter to retain key objectives to implement as a result of participating in the session.
According to a study by ASTD (American Society of Training and Development, www.ASTD.org) says that 10% of information is retained from an instructor led environment, 20% from self directed learning (online CE) and 70% is from social learning. Social learning is that which others share their own personal experiences using a blog, YouTube video, SlideShare presentation, or a status updates that helps others understand complex ideas.
Networking with Peers
Referrals are a huge benefit of networking face to face from attending state events. The more you get to know someone, you more you trust them, the more you would be willing to refer them to your close personal contacts. Let me say this again, there is no replacement for face-to-face networking.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin give you the ability to extend your live presence to something more real than waiting every 4-6 months to ask them, “So what have you been up to?” Dale Carnegie says that, “You can get more people interested in you in two months by becoming interested in other people rather than waiting two years trying to get other people interested in you.” If we can re-prioritize our time instead of driving to pro-actively reach out to out peers on social networking sites we can enhance our relationships, connect with new people, and continue to refer business to those we know, like, and trust.
Those who solely rely on face-to-face communication work a lot harder than those who have the skill sets to participate in online social networks effectively. It takes an open mind, willingness to make mistakes, and positive attitude.
There will always be those who are the naysayers because they don’t want to change, feel comfortable with the way things are, and are intimidated by not wanting to learn something new. Dr. George Lucas says, “People change when the pain not to change, exceeds the pain to change.”
We are living in exponential times. Each day is a celebration of happiness, love, and excitement not only for the people who we represent but for our families, friends, and esteemed colleagues we work with.
I encourage your state association to look at what is making a difference in the public’s lives, REALTOR® members, and those REALTOR® leaders who actively participate in the community they represent.
Let’s save some of the dues dollars our members pay by having one less meeting, encourage collaboration from all members, and actively share those ideas online which will help us remain relevant in an ever changing real estate economy.