In part I of this two part post, we presented ideas for assembling your property management group. Part II focuses on organizing, communicating with, and running your group.
Organize your group … virtually
Speaking of utilizing online sources, you should be aware of some of the great free online group organization resources and networking tools. If you haven’t yet, be sure to take a look at MeetUp.com. This service is designed specifically for finding and organizing groups of like-minded people. Just go to MeetUp and perform a search with your zip code and keywords like property manage, real estate, landlord, or rental. The results will include other people in your area who have entered similar interests and are looking for related networking groups.
MeetUp will also allow you to see if there are any existing property management groups in your area. If not, it’s simple to start one of your own right then and there. Other locals who have expressed interest in your topic will be notified and can then join your group. From there, MeetUp provides easy-to-use meeting organization tools to notify members about upcoming events.
Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are also great resources. Both options work similarly, providing groups with an electronic meeting place to exchange and store information including everything from files to calendars. You can also post messages to provide quick updates or information for the group to see.
While all three of these group tools offer a wide variety of useful functions, MeetUp is your best bet for initially organizing a group and bringing members together. Once the group is formed, Google or Yahoo are great places to collectively store and share information, including upcoming events and agendas.
Communicate with Your Group
Now that you’ve put a group together, you have to figure out how to keep them together and continue growing. Doing this requires communication. Online group tools are extremely useful, but it also pays to proactively deliver information to members’ inboxes every now and then (as opposed to passively waiting for them to log on to one of the sites mentioned above). As the group leader you’ll need to find a reliable method of keeping the group in contact, motivating them to attend meetings, and sharing information.
Just a basic email may work for your purposes. Or maybe you really want to beef up your communication efforts and get a newsletter going … particularly if your group’s main mode of communication will be electronic. If you do opt to take this route, there are some great online tools to easily create and personalize professional looking e-newsletters. Try ConstantContact.com or MyNewsletterBuilder.com. Aside from the professional edge these services provide, they also allow you to view analytics such as open rates, click-throughs, and email bounces. Be aware, though, most e-newsletter services do charge a fee after a trial period has expired, so be sure you will benefit from and use this service before signing up.
Run a Successful Group Meeting
While you should definitely take advantage of online tools, chances are the real group bonding will happen at face-to-face gatherings. You don’t have to hold meetings or events all the time—anywhere from once a month to once a quarter will do. However, when you do have group meetings, you want to make sure that as many people as possible actually attend. Offer attendees incentives like snacks, speakers, activities, or even a gift certificate prize (this is a great way for vendors to get their names in front of potential employers’ faces, after all).
A successful meeting will be the perfect blend of social (so that people really have the opportunity to converse and network with one another—this is when the real sharing and information exchange starts to happen) and structured. Without any structure, members may decide that their busy schedules do not allow for these meetings and attendance could drop before the group ever even gets going. Provide an agenda or even just a topic for discussion from the outset.
Make sure you remind attendees to bring business cards with them and have people sign in so that you can get email addresses for future sends and also have an idea of who attends functions and how they are referred. Doing this will help you figure out what some of your best methods for drawing members in are and will allow you to really target those more effective modes in the future.
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