By Erica Christoffer, Contributing Editor
Three exceptionally talented and highly involved YPN chapters were in the running for 2009 Chapter of the Year: Houston, Missouri, and Minneapolis. All three took on creative planning to grow membership and provided constructive networking and educational opportunities for young real estate professionals.
(From left) YoPro members Erin Sullivan Milburn, Karen Tobler, Nobu Hata, Kimberly Koehler, and Kelly O'Neil celebrate as Minneapolis is awarded YPN Chapter of the Year.
In the end, the Minneapolis YoPros took home the title to become the first-ever YPN Chapter of the Year. The group was presented with the Chapter of the Year trophy during the YPN event at the 2009 NAR Conference and Expo in San Diego on Nov. 13.
“When it came down to deciding who should win the YPN Chapter of the Year Award, it was a very difficult decision,” said YPN Manager Rob Reuter. “The Minneapolis YoPros were already a well-established chapter and showed how far a YPN chapter can really go.”
The YoPros began meeting in mid-2008 and were formally inducted as a YPN chapter with NAR in February 2009.
One of the most notable initiatives the YoPros have developed is their signature “Squaretable Meetings.” Described as “speed dating meets roundtable discussions,” the events consist of individual table presentations led by a real estate practitioner or industry professional who share their expertise to a small group of attendees. After 20 minutes, the group moves on to the next table of their choice, with topics ranging from technology to alternative financing, social media to governmental/legislative issues, and more.
“Strong communications and monthly YPN events and meetings are two big reasons for the success of the YoPros,” Reuter said. “They are even in the process of creating a YPN designation through their board.”
Nobu Hata, ePro, is a sales associate for Edina Realty in Minneapolis and a founding member of the YoPros. He is collaborating on the creation of the YoPros’ YPN designation. “We feel with the advent of new media and empowered consumers into our brick and mortar business, there are new policies, plus old-school practices, that need to be introduced and reinforced to help us be better advocates for our clients,” Hata said.
The group is putting together a curriculum of designation classes involving technology, ethics, fair housing, and best-practices. They hope to have the designation approved by this summer.
“What impressed me the most about them was their structure and their out-of-the-box thinking,” said Shannon Williams King, chair of the national YPN Advisory Board. “They have taken it beyond networking and social hours to provide educational opportunities for young real estate professionals. I’m excited for them.”
Hata, who was present during the Chapter of the Year announcement in San Diego, said he was in shock when the YoPros received the award. “What Missouri and Houston had done — what their members have been involved with — I thought had been significant,” Hata said. “I like to think that this award is shared amongst our three chapters, we’re all doing our part for the betterment of the industry.”
For newly-formed YPN chapters just getting their footing, Hata said that membership is key to success, and not to give up because YPN prospects are out there.
“What we’re doing — injecting new life into our industry — is slowly but surely shaping the way our industry works,” said Hata. “We finally have a voice; let’s use it.”
The Young Professionals Network (YPN) is a great place to connect with other real estate industry professionals. By getting involved or starting your own local chapter, you’ll create a bridge to many industry tools, resources, and networking events. For more information, or to download a chapter application, visit www.realtor.org/ypn.