February 13, 2011

10 Ways to Maximize Your HBA Membership Investment

“I joined the local HBA for an immediate return on my investment. After two meetings I didn't get any business; I’m not renewing my membership!”

If I received a dollar for every time I heard that EXCUSE, well..... you know the rest. 

Most new members don’t fully understand the real value of the local, state or national associations and believe that the association is for a quick business fix. The established (or should I say actively engaged) members know better. Today's post is to give readers a brief summary of how to UTILIZE (key word) the home builders association. I’m listing ten ways to get a better return on your HBA investment but understand that these items are not short cuts. These ten items are not my opinion but the opinion of successful members that I have watched over the years navigate the HBA waters.

1. Recognition

Be active in the builders association to gain visibility. Volunteer for committee work that you can contribute your skills and thoughts. Political fundraising not only helps your career by raising investment dollars for the building industry it will define you as a member who cares.

2. Grassroots

Become involved with those issues that either strengthen or threaten the industry. NAHB has a BuilderLink program that may be similar to a communication mechanism in your state. Make sure you take action when needed and, as important as your own action, send to others in your company so they can take action as well.

3. Don’t forget… your fellow associates!

As an associate your main focus may be to network with as many builders and remodelers as you can. Understand that other associates, those who are not in direct competition with you, can be as valuable, if not more, when it comes to networking. Other associates know builders; by building social capital you are expanding your network. Just remember, give as well, better, than you receive.

4. Believe in the phrase “Do Business with a Member”

If you “practice what you preach” the law of averages will come back to you favorably. Make sure you do your best to make sure everyone in your building industry sphere is either a member of NAHB or has the information to become one.

5. Industry and association business first.

If you want to be regarded as a member that “cares” your company’s business has to come second to association initiatives. I know, that’s easy for me to write but over the years the members who were very successful with building their own businesses through the association did so because they utilized the association, not used the association. When you volunteer for the right reasons, helping the HBA, others will notice your efforts as professional and they will want to get to know you better.

6. Use the builders’ association function to network, NOT SELL.

When you are at an event, do not sell. I have witnessed quite a few people develop a poor reputation by always selling. There is a time and place for everything and this is no exception.

7. If you are not having fun, find another profession.

In today’s business climate that may be easier said then done, however the point remains; if you’re not having fun it will show up in your attitude. Nobody wants to be around, let alone network, with people who are acting miserable. This will only hurt you in the long run.

8. Know how much time you can contribute many associates tend to burn out.

I know some associates who join every committee they possibly can. I refer to them as “resume builders.” Join one committee and make sure your volunteer time is given your best effort. As you become known as someone who is reliable and dedicated you can move on to other committees giving the same effort. Or you just may be able to manage your volunteer time, with your company and family time, and take on an extra task or two.

Note: never forget, and in this order, family, your job and then the association.

9. Never introduce yourself without including your company name. 

Seems like a ridiculous statement but so many people don’t show up with business cards or utilize name tags and when they introduce themselves they forget to mention who they work for. I know I said not to sell, but this isn’t selling, this is branding.

10. Patience.
A minimum of a three-year commitment of activity (on average) is required to attract deserved attention and credibility. I have watched some members become successful in a few months time and others several years. But the average of three years seems to be the right amount of time. Remember, unless you are the only one of your kind, meaning product or service, chances are your competitors are already involved. It takes patience and volunteering for the right reasons to have people recognize your professionalism. Word of advice; when the time comes and you are recognized for your efforts, you will be given an opportunity. Nothing is guaranteed but your dedication to yourself as a building industry professional. When your chance comes don’t blow it.

There are other ways to maximize your investment in the HBA. In fact I have created a presentation that is entering its 11th year; "Association Maximization." This presentation is available for your use just send me an email mike.kurpiel@probuild.com and I will attach. I am also available to come speak at your local as well.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman


Diana Lucero said...

Mike, this is good. I would like to get this out through my membership committee and through our local Builder News and state Housing Digest, with your permission.

NAHB Associates said...

Diana, no permission needed. The intent of this blog, and all the posts, is to be utilized by our members :)

Kim Hefner said...

I'll be so excited to share this with our local Associate's Committee at our next meeting. I especially can relate to #5, as it's imperative to set aside your business hat and take on the HBA hat when you're doing committee work. That's the hardest one to learn, but the long term benefits are many!!