The next generation of REALTORS®: Spotlight on OREA’s Young Professionals Network

What’s one of the best ways to attract, engage and educate new members? Over the past year, several local Boards and provincial Associations have created, or are in the process of creating, Young Professional Networks (YPNs). Last month, we took to the road to join the Ontario Real Estate Association’s (OREA) YPN for two stops on their fall Emerge: Moving You Forward with the Tools for Tomorrow conference series. I had a chance to sit-down with OREA’s YPN Committee Chair, Anna Vozza, to find out how YPNs can not only benefit REALTORS® – new and seasoned – but Boards and Associations, too.

Nicole: Anna, where did the concept for a provincial YPN start? 

Anna: The results of a 2012 OREA Member Profile study revealed that 8 out of 10 REALTORS® in Ontario are over the age of 40. Also, in the next 10 years, 49 per cent of our members will be reaching the age of retirement. It was at that moment we realized it was imperative OREA find a way to engage with REALTORS® [who are] new to the industry, as they make up approximately 14 per cent of the current membership (7,700+ members), and be more responsive to their needs. To address this, the OREA YPN was born.

Nicole: Let’s say I just became a REALTOR® agent. How would I benefit from joining OREA’s YPN?

Anna: Some of the benefits would be having the opportunity to attend conferences and pursing leadership roles with your local [Board], provincial and national Associations, taking an active role in policy discussions and advocacy issues, becoming informed about the latest industry news and trends, and having the ability to network and learn from others by attending events, participating in online communication and seeking out mentorship opportunities.

Nicole: What was your biggest challenge when you first started in the industry? 

Anna: For me, it was like being thrown into a pool of water and being expected to know how to swim. I had a lack of practical training. I mean, I took the courses and learned how to fill out a proof of sale, but there was no course on how to grow my business or get my first client.

I think that’s how the YPN helps because, as a REALTOR®, you can reach out to peers who may have more experience and ask how they handled the same challenges.

Nicole: Although OREA’s networking receptions focus on providing young professionals opportunities to connect, I’m noticing a number of more seasoned faces. What was the rationale for opening the reception to REALTORS® of all ages?  

Anna: All OREA YPN events are open to REALTORS® of all ages to allow for mentorship opportunities and information-sharing across generations. REALTORS® [who are] new to the industry are always looking for information on how they can save time and maximize money. REALTORS® who have been around a little longer look to new members for help with their social media strategies and new technology. There is a lot we can learn from one another. 

Nicole: How can Boards and Associations benefit from YPNs, too?

Anna: I think the benefits can be broken-down into three categories: YPNs help Boards and Associations cultivate the next generation of organized real estate leadership, ensure representation of all members in policy decisions and allow Boards and Associations to tap into new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Nicole: Thank you, Anna.

Our former Government Relations and Communications Advisor, Nicole Christy started with CREA as a co-op student in the spring of 2012 and, after finishing her graduate degree, became a permanent staff member. Nicole was often on the front lines, liaising with our government and private sector partners, supporting our Federal Affairs Committee, and administrating our online advocacy platform – the REALTOR® Action Network. In her spare time, Nicole likes to spend her time playing volleyball, reading, and exploring Ottawa and the surrounding area with her family and dog, Reese.

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