If I told you that you could further your career for free, and have fun, would you?

When you finish your pre-registration, choose a brokerage and have received your very first box of business cards… What do you do next? Sure, you call everyone you know. You work on developing your brand, build your CRM and start picking up open houses. But what else?

When I was first licensed, I wanted to do everything. That fire to get my business off the ground was overwhelming and often had me distracted by shiny things. What I quickly learned was that the only thing holding me back was lack of experience. You can read books, talk to Realtors in your office, listen to advice from your broker for months, but when it comes down to it – you’re green. You know about the same as the next Realtor that’s just sprung out of the gates, and much less than the experienced agents you’re up against when a prospective client is deciding who to hire.

While I did alright, I was always searching for that trick that nobody else was doing. There was an event happening in my local association about 18 months after I was licensed. They were choosing a new MLS provider. My manager at the time encouraged me to apply to the IT committee and the task force, given my background in internet and user interfaces. So I did.

That was the *real* beginning of my career.

I enjoyed my time working with the board staff and Directors so much, the next year I volunteered for a few more committees. The most memorable one at that time was the By-Law Committee. That following year, my local board re-wrote many of their By-Laws, and I was lucky enough to sit on the committee through that time. The things I learned about my industry, the people in it, and especially the struggles within my local community were priceless. I was able to take the things I’d learned into my buyer and listing presentations, that truly set me a head and shoulders ABOVE my competition, even the more experienced agents, because I was able to identify potential issues that were leaving blank stares on the faces of the Realtors.

Volunteering in my local association meant a very broad perspective on what was actually happening at the negotiation tables of every other Realtor in my community. Volunteering was a learning experience I continue to this day, and will for the remainder of my career, a learning experience I could not have paid to have in any classroom. Volunteering meant expanding my support, network and “village” of people beyond the frequenters in my own office. Most importantly, volunteering meant opportunity – opportunity to meet the people that ran the organizations I worked within, giving me a recognizable name at events, opportunity to travel and learn from excellent Realtors provincially, nationally and internationally, and opportunity to help mould and develop the industry to suit new trends, technologies and generations. All of these experience have had significant impact on my ability to do business and stand out within my own small circle buying and selling with clients at home.

You may feel like you don’t have time, or that it’s too much of a responsibility. But trust me, you’re wrong. The doors volunteering opens for you are well worth the ~2 hours/month you spend in a board room having valid discussion with your peers. Start small, and start with something specific you’re interested in. Professional development. MLS/IT. Or your local YPN or equivalent. All are an excellent place to start. I promise, you won’t be sorry!

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