By Erica Christoffer
Part three in a series featuring the 2018 YPN Network of the Year recipients.
The strengths of the Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® YPN are threefold: education, leadership, and culture. Those three priorities have helped propel the group, and lead to their win of the large category 2018 Network of the Year Award.
“Our YPN Committee places a high importance on professional development,” says Ramona Schimka, committee specialist for Senior Services and Young Professionals Network at MORe. “The more resources and education we provide the network, the more engaged they are and find value in participating.”
Whether it’s through their Coffee Talks, which are informal, small-group discussions on hot topics, or their YPN Real Talk series, where expert panelists tackle issues that pertain to all members, MORe YPN works to deliver useful events and resources to all those involved. “Our group is always conscious of including members who can find value in our content and offerings regardless of age,” says Megan Beechen, 2019 chair of MORe YPN.
Connie Vavra, who chaired the group in 2018 and has been a member since 2014, describes the YPN committee as “insightful,” intending to help real estate pros gain knowledge and confidence. “That is a trait you can’t force, but it is absolutely the foundation that makes our YPN truly one of the greatest,” she says.
Their biggest and most popular event each year is their Ugly Sweater Party, which features a bucket raffle and a spin the wine bottle game to raise money for charity. Last year they raised $2,641 for Bridge Communities, which helps homeless families find housing and support services. Coming up on their sixth year, the evening of networking and fundraising attracts about 130 attendees.
The YPN committee’s use of social media has helped them maintain momentum and spur member participation, specifically by incorporating Facebook Live education within their Facebook Group. They created a series called YPN Chats—headed by the network’s Social Media Sub Committee—which are 30-minute Facebook Live seminars offered only to members of their private Facebook Group. Schimka says the live seminars helped their Facebook Group increase in size by 37% in one year.
“We have to go beyond just emails and actually interact with our members in more of a direct communication line,” Vavra says. “We have attendees at recent events who said they have been in the business 10 years and never have come to a YPN event until they saw it on Facebook.”
Another way MORe YPN is engaging with members is through the use of video. The committee has partnered with Mainstreet’s staff videographer to make professional-quality videos to promote upcoming events. The YPN committee and videographer formulate the concept together, generally keeping it light-hearted and fun, Schimka says. The group also makes sure one member in charge of taking video at every event.
“Allowing our committee members to get their creative ideas out there helps us with content that keeps people interested and engaged,” Beechen says. “We also have a very outgoing, free-spirited group that is certainly not camera-shy, which helps.”
Maintaining a culture of inclusion has helped MORe’s YPN members feel seen and heard despite being part of a large organization with more than 18,000 members, Schimka says. “Our micro-community has created a culture where young professionals of all ages can gather to ask questions openly without fear of rejection, find solutions for their business, and at the same time, hang out with their best friends,” she says. “Every member matters.”
Erica Christoffer is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and manager of the YPN Lounge. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.