By Josh Price
You might be surprised to know that the Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS® didn’t have a YPN before last fall. Because our group was just getting off the ground, we could have easily been derailed after the global pandemic hit the U.S. Instead, we adapted, and we’re now engaging with more members than ever. I wanted to share how we did it and hopefully help other volunteer leaders out there who may be struggling with the direction of their YPN.
In 2019, GAAR’s Board of Directors decided to create a YPN committee as part of its 2020 strategic plan. A goal was set for the group to be 50 members strong by the end of 2020. I received an email from a GAAR staff member last August, asking if I would be interested in heading up the new YPN committee. I went over all the materials in NAR’s YPN Start-Up Kit, and I was very excited about what the future of YPN in Albuquerque might be. After serving on five other committees at GAAR, I learned firsthand how committee service is a great way to get members involved—and a YPN committee would serve that purpose for new members in a much better way.
We outlined our mission and assigned leadership roles during our initial meeting, as well as coined the acronym LINE, which stands for leadership, inclusion, networking, and education. The vision is that YPN will be “the starting LINE” for any new REALTOR® or affiliate coming into our organization. As part of our mission, we plan to hold quarterly events representing at least one of the four tenants of our YPN.
Our kickoff event was a Halloween costume party last October. To encourage attendance and to recruit members, a few of our YPN committee members took turns speaking about YPN at GAAR classes and new member orientations. It turned out to be a great success. We had about 30 people show up in costume to network and kick off our new committee, and the feedback that we received allowed us to start planning for what we would do next.
We decided to create an ongoing event that could provide value to our association and members. This is how our Wake-Up YPN series came to be. We started hosting monthly meet-ups at different local coffee shops around Albuquerque, with each event featuring an educational or inspirational speaker. Our Wake-Up YPN quickly became a huge success, averaging between 20 and 30 attendees since our initial event last November. We have invited a wide range of speakers, covering topics from zoning laws and resources to loving your local community. Our lowest turnout was 13 people due to poor weather and a remote location. Our highest turnout was 35 people, and we almost took over the small coffee shop we had chosen that month.
By March 2020, we were well on our way to reaching our 50-member engagement goal. We held a successful blood drive and we were beginning to plan what would have been our biggest YPN event of the year—a statewide YPN/RPAC Kentucky Derby celebration. When I say we were doing it big, believe me, we were planning on rivaling the actual derby itself.
Then we learned about COVID-19. By mid-March, everything we had planned for was shut down or put on hold.
If you’re also part of leading a YPN, you might be able to relate with this: Those first few months of the pandemic were very trying for our committee. We could only meet virtually, and our Wake-Up YPN events were put on hiatus. Most of our committee members stopped attending meetings. We began to question what it means for the success of our group, and what service could we could provide for GAAR.
But as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I can tell you that quitting is not an option. The few committee members that were still attending our monthly meeting started to devise a new plan for what we could do to remain relevant and to provide needed value for our members at GAAR. Thus, the Wake-Up YPN Radio Show was born.
We decided to record live—radio-style—Facebook Live events each month to fill the void left by our previous Wake-Up YPN events. We scheduled the show for the third Friday of every month at 8:30 a.m. MT, and shows are simultaneously recorded on GAAR’s YouTube channel for future viewing. The vision is to provide the same value to our local members that we did before the pandemic by offering educational and inspirational content. Each episode’s theme mirrors the monthly theme of the association, and we are already coming up with some fun and fantastic ideas for future shows.
Our first Wake-Up YPN Radio Show aired on Sept. 18, 2020, featuring a former GAAR president discussing the importance of new construction in our everchanging industry. Overall, it went really well—the show was fun and funny at times. We talked about current events, the future of real estate, and we even brought up the dreaded Z word (Zillow).
In an unforeseen win, the new show allowed us to engage with a total of 186 members during the live event. This virtual turnout far surpassed all of our past attendance milestones and was something absolutely quantifiable. I clearly underestimated what a little imagination and ingenuity can do, and without consciously trying, we met our goal of engaging with 50 members in a half an hour’s time that day.
It is yet to be seen what will come from the Wake-Up YPN Radio Show at GAAR, but we do know that we’ll keep moving forward and that no virus can shut us down. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”