Written By: Neena Dorigo, RMP
NARPM is all about networking, as I was recently reminded. I attended the NARPM National Convention in San Diego (Coronado), California and sat next to someone in a class who became a new friend.
It was his first time attending a NARPM Convention and, as he was relating all the changes he was going to implement in his business upon returning home, he lamented that his state has no NARPM Chapters. He really wanted to continue the networking and learning after he got home.
I encouraged him to sign up for the NARPM Discussion Boards and then told him I started the NARPM Los Angeles Chapter and was sure he could do the same in his area.
If you too are wishing you had a local chapter, here’s how I helped start one back in 2014
I checked the www.narpm.org property manager search, within a chosen radius of my city, to see which members were in my area, and called every one of them. Every being the important word here. I explained I wanted to start a chapter and asked for their help. Wayne Hartigan responded to my call and said he would be interested. We met for coffee and he said he had just attended the Broker/Owner Conference and met a new member from our area whom he would contact. He asked Vanessa Ginn for her participation and she said, “yes.” I asked a co-worker, Kimberly Fair brother, RMP, if she would join us. She agreed and now we had our fledgling board. When you’re looking for members to form a board, look for people who have drunk the NARPM Kool-Aid, that is, those who have done more than just pay the membership fee. Who has or is working on a designation in your area? Who has invested the time and money to attend conventions, conferences, and/or education classes?
Find out who the Regional Vice President (RVP) is for your region and contact him or her. RVPs have seen many chapters develop and grow and can be a great resource and encouragement. You can find them here: https://www.narpm.org/about/officers-and-board/ Before you can start filling seats, you need to pick a meeting place and time. Avoid the first and last weeks of the month and avoid Monday or Friday. Our chapter meets the third Wednesday of the month for breakfast. Another chapter near us meets for lunch.
Although you won’t be able to please everyone, try to find a central location. We have tried several different locations and are currently meeting at a country club. It’s best to find a venue with a private room. Check where your local service clubs, such as Kiwanis, Rotary, and Toastmasters, are meeting. Some chapters meet at their local Board of REALTORS or use facilities of local apartment owner associations.
Send out a survey to local members, asking about preferred meeting day and time, meeting location, and topics of interest. You can find many survey tools on the web.
Don’t just invite NARPM Members. A good resource to tap for invitees are your vendors. Your software rep knows every local property management company. So does your banker and your plumber! Invite those vendors to your meetings and ask them to invite their clients.
Once you have a fledgling board, a meeting time and location, you need speakers that will draw attendees. One of our biggest turnouts was when a pest control rep spoke about bed bugs, complete with magnified illustrations. Anyone speaking on Landlord-Tenant Law is a draw. If there’s a major issue in your area affecting rental property, such as rent control in my state of California, that will be a draw. Call your local fire and police department. They often have speakers available. NARPM also has a Speaker’s Bureau search available on the website at https://www.narpm.org/find/speakers/. The search results will detail contact information, speaking categories, courses taught, willingness to travel, and any associated fees. You can also sign up to be a speaker here. I was program chair for my chapter for many years and I only had one person ask for remuneration. Many speakers are willing to come at no charge.
Get on the email list for other chapters, as that will give you ideas for meeting topics and speakers. You can check the events being held by other chapters by going to their chapter websites.
Starting a chapter is like many things in NARPM. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Reach out to other NARPM Members who have started chapters. Visit other chapters to get ideas on how to run a meeting. Ask for advice on the discussion boards. Contact your RVP for information and guidance. The knowledge you’ll gain and friendships you’ll form will be lifelong.
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