Sometimes it is good to reflect on past experiences and how they have influenced your career, with an eye toward how they might apply to others. I had an unexpected opportunity to do recently when the national Commercial Real Estate Women Network presented me with the Circle of Excellence Award at its national convention in Chicago. It’s the organization’s highest award, and I am extremely honored to receive it.
But the rewards that I have reaped by being a member of CREW over the years have had a significant impact on my career in commercial real estate, and are just as important as any awards received. When young commercial real estate professionals ask me for advice on how to be successful in their careers, I always tell them to join at least one or two professional associations. But just joining and occasionally attending a function is not enough. To get the best return on investment, one must actively participate by joining committees and assuming leadership roles.
The benefits vary from person to person. In my early years as a broker, it was CREW members who taught me many of the fundamentals of the business. They generously answered my technical questions, shared forms, gave me tips on negotiating, and offered advice when I encountered the inevitable hurtles of some real estate transactions. I would never have had all this wise counsel without having joined CREW, but I got even more.
Over the years, CREW members have referred nonprofit organizations to me as potential clients and provided countless hours of pro-bono services to my nonprofit clients. Some of those CREW members have become my business partners in a number of profitable real estate transactions. But the greatest reward is that many of my closest friends are CREW members from Dallas and other cities across the country.
CREW isn’t the only professional organization where I have devoted my time. The Real Estate Council has been the focus of my attention over the past few years. Its mission and programs are terrific, and I have met some amazing people through TREC.
CREW, TREC, and the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors all have special programs devoted to young professionals. What a great opportunity for those new to our industry to get involved, meet other real estate professionals, and gain valuable leadership experience.
One stumbling block for many young professionals in joining a professional association is that they cannot afford the required dues and meeting fees. I strongly urge their employers to cover these expenses for at least one professional association every year. These expenses should be considered a key part of their development program. It would be my hope that these young professionals will have opportunities to reap their own rewards from these worthwhile organizations.
Eliza Solender is president of Solender/Hall Inc., a commercial real estate and consulting firm. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.