By Anand Patel
A few weeks ago, Rob Reuter made the exciting announcement that the Young Professionals Network has grown to 300 networks (and counting). This is a commendable feat in the short 4+ years YPN has been around. As a part of Florida YPN, I’m very proud that 12 out of the 26 new networks established nationally to date in 2013 are from within the great state of Florida! Needless to say, the YPN “bug” has caught on and will continue to spread.
As YPN continues to grow around the country, it is also important to focus on quality as the networks multiply in quantity. The last thing we would want to see is networks fizzling out and failing after just a year or two post-launch. If you have ever been involved with Toastmasters International, you may know that not only do they place importance on mentoring new members who join a Toastmasters’ club, but also on mentoring new clubs as they become established. This way you help ensure member participation and club success as they start out their initial year.
As YPN members we can apply the same principles to the many new YPN networks being established around the country. Newly appointed YPN chairs are actively seeking guidance, tips and advice, and would be happy to hear from experienced networks. Here are some ways you could be a mentor and some advice you can share with new networks in your geographic area or across the country:
- Reach out to the YPN chair, association executive or staff liaison of the new network and offer to share your experiences. Calendar in some time, for example: Agree to spend 15-20 minutes every few weeks on the phone to speak with them. This doesn’t have to be a burden on you and take up too much of your valuable time. Fifteen minutes on the phone and perhaps corresponding via email can go a long way in helping a new network out.
- Share advice on how to select your inaugural YPN committee, selecting a vice-chair and how often to meet. We all know YPN is a great entry-point into association volunteerism but keep in mind that this may be the appointed chair’s first experience as part of a committee as well.
- Ideas on different kick-off events introducing YPN to the association; ways to promote the event; how to involve the whole association.
- Tips on how to explain what exactly YPN is to the general membership. Ways to ensure the events and meetings are inclusive.
- How to create relevant educational and social events and keep attendance up when the “honeymoon period” is over (usually after the first few events and all the buzz about YPN begins to settle down).
- Ideas on how to put on community service events or RPAC fundraisers.
- Direct them to the NAR YPN Facebook group page: www.facebook.com/groups/165824516800058/. Remember that although this is a wonderful resource for new and established networks, and no matter how tech-savvy we may be, nothing is better than picking up the phone or meeting with someone in person if possible.
- How to continue to recruit proactive committee members ensuring smooth transitions year after year.
This list can go on and on. The point is that to keep YPN growing in strength so that the network becomes a truly valuable resource to the local association and membership, we’ll have to reach out and stay in touch with the new networks sprouting monthly around the country (and soon the world). We all can benefit by being a mentor.
If you are an established network, what would be some advice you would have loved to have learned during your first year? If you belong to a new YPN network, what advice are you looking for as you get started?
Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa, Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa, or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1.