Networking in the property management industry goes beyond finding a new job or making small talk at a business conference. It’s about building relationships and tapping into resources that have long-term value.
Some of these resources can be found at the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC), where budding property managers learn to master analytical and leadership skills with other like-minded individuals.
Ron Penner, past president of REIC and now regional vice-president of IREM Canada, and senior vice-president of operations and chief operating officer of Globe Property Management, still keeps in touch with colleagues he met while earning his CERTIFIED PROPERTY MANAGER® (CPM®) designation.
“The fact that we have worked hard for this designation means we can rely on each other in our local regions for help and advice,” he says. “Whenever I network with people through REIC, there’s an understanding you’re dealing with somebody who knows the specifics of the business. And we’re also very proud of the code of ethics we all live up to.”
Making Local Connections
Whether they are completing advanced courses or working towards earning a designation, REIC members have the chance to keep in touch with each other at nine local chapters across Canada, while creating synergies within the business.
“A CPM managing a property might recommend a realtor with the FRI designation (Fellow of the Real Estate Institute) to an owner who is selling properties, knowing they meet a high set of standards,” says Penner. “And the person selling a property to an individual owner might encourage the owner to seek out a CPM (Certified Property Manager) to take over the management for the new owner.”
Networking at a local REIC chapter often begins with education. For instance, often when courses are held at the Winnipeg chapter, there will be a luncheon that coincides with the education. Students spend time with others who have designations, find mentors and exchange business cards. If they’re looking for a position or need advice after their studies, they now have a pool of quality professionals to contact.
“You can find realtors, property managers, asset managers and leasing agents in the classroom,” says Penner. “Everyone comes from a different place, so that’s where the networking begins.”
Social time is often planned before and after a local chapter event. This can help with the process of finding a job. When moving from province to province, or city to city, one of the first things Penner recommends is to become a member of a local REIC chapter, jump into events and rub shoulders with people who might direct you to a position there.
Networking also takes place outside of business settings where relationships can further develop.
If someone from another city is attending a local event in Winnipeg or has other business in the city, Penner often makes the effort to show them the city or take them to a local event such as a Winnipeg Jets game or to dinner.
“When you’re in town, reach out to somebody and spend time with them,” he suggests. “The bonds grow stronger as you spend time away from the business, although our conversations always end up being business conversations.”
Keeping in Touch across Canada
From a national perspective, there are many benefits when members are located across the country. If Penner is looking to buy a property in a new city, his next step would be to call a local REIC member in the area.
“If I’m heading to a part of the country I haven’t been to before, I know there will be individuals who can show me around and help me understand the current market,” he says.
The reach goes even further. REIC members can network with professionals across the United States and through the international association IREM and its national conference.
“I am able to network with people from Canada, U.S., South America, Korea, Japan, South Africa, etc.” Penner notes. “Our designation allows us to move about the world and network with people from various countries, and we compare notes on how things differ in other parts of the world. I’ve developed great friendships.”
Other ways of keeping in touch across the country are through Chapter Chats, which involve REIC board members who exchange ideas with partners and colleagues in other parts of Canada.
The REIC Annual General Meeting (AGM) also takes places in different Canadian cities every year. The event is three days of professional development sessions, networking functions and an awards dinner. Sessions often revolve around social media and other current industry topics. There is always a social component to the REIC AGM and the IREM conference that get people in the same room, collaborating on projects.
“We always encourage people to go to the national conference,” says Penner. “It takes you out of your region so you can understand the country a little better—that’s where you make great connections.”
From there, Penner recommends following up on those connections, whether that means shooting over an email with a business contact, staying in touch by phone or meeting up when visiting a city.
“If one of my property managers is travelling to Edmonton for a course, I’ll send a note to some members out there, so they can welcome them and make them feel at home.”
As an REIC member, a property manager is connected to a broad network of real estate professionals who have gone through similar experiences and can provide advice or guidance. For those in the process of achieving a designation, the path, which can take two years or longer, is paved with a strong support system.
Members who are CPM designated utilize industry best practices and adhere to the highest standard of ethics. Keeping in touch with these professionals, once a designation is earned, enriches one’s career for years to come.
“We all live very, very busy lives. We get our designations and many members go about conducting their business without networking,” says Penner. “But once you start going to chapter events or national events, you see the benefit of the designations across the nation, latch onto the networking a little more and utilize people for help.”
To learn more about the CERTIFIED PROPERTY MANAGER® (CPM®) designation program or the FRI — Fellow of the Real Estate Institute designation program, please visit: www.reic.ca