REALTOR® associations of large, less populous states like Nebraska often undertake ‘road show caravans’ to connect with members of distant local boards. Inspired by that model, this summer, the Nebraska REALTORS® Association’s REALTOR® Party Leadership Team (RPLT) took the REALTOR® Party on the road to acquaint members with all its efforts, accomplishments, and opportunities. They’ve been warmly welcomed from Scottsbluff to Nebraska City and from Norfolk to Beatrice – and they didn’t ask for a single dollar
Jeff Hebb, Governmental Affairs Director, explains that he and the RPLT saw a need to connect with and educate members of the state’s local boards on the workings of the REALTOR® Party. “Across the state, although we have strong RPAC participation, there was still not a bigger-picture understanding of the REALTOR® Party’s value. But when a fellow REALTOR® says to you, ‘I just met with elected officials on your behalf, and made your voice heard at the Capitol,’ that really drives it home,” he says, adding that member attendance at the 12 locations of the REALTOR® Party Tour averaged 17.99%, a great turn-out for a first-time event. Nebraska, notes Hebb, is fortunate in having a team of REALTOR® Party leaders with complementary strengths, who were all willing to take on various tasks involved in the education effort – from getting funding approved and preparing a REALTOR® Party ‘Quick Reference Guide’ booklet for distribution, to taking turns traveling to the local boards to speak, answering questions, and listening to ideas. “The REALTOR® Party tour was not just an information dump from the state association,” he says; “we were there to listen and learn more about our members’ needs.”
Those impressive REALTOR® Party leaders made the following observations about the first annual Nebraska REALTOR® Party Tour Road Show:
Kim Zwiener, Chair of the state Government Affairs Committee and NAR Participation Council for NE, points out that the REALTOR® Party is all about community: “Just as National Association has to consider varying needs of the state associations, we at the state level work to engage local members. We’ve had amazing results in mutually sharing our stories on the road.”
Lisa Ritter, a state Past President and current member of NAR’s Broker Involvement Council, agrees, observing that, “Passion is contagious, and this team is so passionate about how the REALTOR® Party is benefiting our members and property owners across the state. Our members need to see us, instead of just being talked at through social media!”
Darlene Starman, who is both Vice Chair of the state’s REALTOR® Party Team Work Group and serving on the REALTOR® Party Member Involvement Council on the national level, notes that the road show team made a real effort to demonstrate the link between the local, state, and national associations, emphasizing the benefits of the REALTOR® Party at all levels, from advocacy to grant programs.
Connie Burleigh, NAR Major Investor Council member and a past Chair of the state Government Affairs Committee, says that, on a practical level, they took care to make the presentation duplicable, following highlights in the REALTOR® Party ‘Quick Reference Guide’ booklet so that the tour wouldn’t have to be dependent on any particular team members. She adds, “We learned a lot about what the local boards are already doing out in their communities. This was definitely an information exchange, not just a one-way lecture. They also clearly appreciated that we were not asking for money, just urging them to get involved, and showing them how.”
Pat Ohmberger, who chairs the state’s RPAC Fundraising Committee and its REALTOR® Party Team Workgroup, as well as being a state Past President, explains that the team actually had all local attendees write down their top three industry concerns on three-by-five cards, and is putting the information together in a spreadsheet. “This becomes very valuable feedback for our state board on our members’ priorities.”
Darlene Fletcher, 2019 state President, concludes that, “There are great distances between communities in the state of Nebraska, and sometimes those far from the capitol can feel alienated, so we’re constantly trying to think inclusively. This was all about making our members feel connected and engaged, and it’s a process that’s worked both ways! I know that we at the state level have gained a better understanding of our local boards, and I believe we’ve given them a real sense of connection to the REALTOR® Party.”
What was it like to be on the receiving end of one of these road-show visits?:
Fremont Board of REALTORS® President Traci Hilbers says, “I’ve heard about RPAC for years, but I never really understood where the money goes let alone with all of the other advocacy efforts taking place. One of the things I learned today is, not only does the REALTOR® Party work on a state and national level, but they give back to the communities we live, work, and volunteer in.”
Tri-County Board of REALTORS® Immediate Past President Krista Wiedel couldn’t have been more pleased with the team’s presentation to her association. “We have a young slate of executive officers this year, and many board members without much experience participating at the state level. It was fantastic that they were able to hear from the state leadership team about all that the REALTOR® Party does, and how we can get more involved. When our members present heard how Nebraska state legislators were calling our State Political Coordinators to find out our position on issues and gain input on how to vote, that made a huge impact, and is sure to affect their future investments.”
To learn more about how Nebraska REALTORS® are bringing the benefits of the REALTOR® Party on the road, contact Jeff Hebb, Governmental Affairs Director, at 402-323-6500.