Professional membership organisations and networks can play many important roles in helping their business affiliates grow, develop and become more successful.
They can open up new business opportunities and provide trusted forums for best practice and information sharing, which simply aren’t matched by other sources – even in this era of over-sharing via social media.
However, in this age of social media and digitalisation whereby a world of peers is only a tweet or LinkedIn message away, membership organisations have had to adapt with the times. Those that embrace new technology, education, marketing and branding initiatives offer the best value to their members. The unprecedented scenes around the world over the past year have highlighted the value of being part of an international network.
Last year, as we saw the pandemic sweep across the world from East to West, the real-time information sharing among our member real estate firms proved crucial. Leading Real Estate Companies of the World has affiliates in 70 countries across the world, so the timeline in which they experienced the pandemic varied greatly.
Our network in Europe was able to glean advice from affiliates in Asia about how lockdown affected their businesses before most of Europe even realised the effects of the pandemic on our industry. Our US brokers were able to join forums with EU members, discussing their experiences of running a property agency in a local lockdown. This sharing of information was made possible by our international network, and it also helped them filter through the plethora of information available online, which is not always reliable.
Knowledge sharing was crucial to planning and preparing for the aftermath of Covid-19 and its huge impact on our industry.
With events on hold and conferences postponed, the membership sector has thoroughly embraced the need to provide training and networking online. With a total shift over to virtual conferencing and digital networking over the past year, it could be argued that members now have more opportunity and access to their peers, membership body and training resources than before. The continuing push to provide up-to-date advice has resulted in a notable increase in online training and networking resources, which have been incredibly valuable to members during the Covid-19 crisis.
With membership organisations around the globe adapting to meet the new normal, there is an opportunity to revisit and refer back to core values. In the face of adversity, the collaboration and camaraderie of the global real estate sector are a poignant and humbling reminder of the power of community. As we enter this new period of repair, rebuild and grow, the pandemic has required the sector to refocus on the factors at the heart of its existence.
Covid-19 has instilled a new-found respect and recognition of the importance of the real estate sector, both to the brokers and the buyers, in helping the global economy to rebuild. As we embark on a recovery phase during the next six months, membership organisations from all sectors must continue to work with their core values at their heart and their members at the forefront.
Seeing our members provide each other with support and advice in these recent times of uncertainty has strengthened my view that the future is looking very bright for membership organisations, which continue to evolve to meet the needs of their affiliate network. And as we look ahead to a time when we can resume in-person meetings, I am confident the mutual support we all experienced over the past year will not be forgotten.
Chris Dietz is executive vice-president, global operations at Leading Real Estate Companies of the World