Let’s start this post by defining your objectives within the HBA. You start by incorporating what you learned in the first two posts about the true purpose of any level of the HBA and that is that the HBA is a watchdog association that speaks with one voice. That one voice is needed for the HBA’s true purpose; advocacy. You may ask yourself the question “why should I care about advocacy?” If your career depends on the home building and remodeling industry for any or all of your income the question I would have for you is “why don’t you care.” This first paragraph is extremely important as you define your objectives and maximizing your HBA investment.

Getting involved will help you with getting connected. This should absolutely be your first objective. Your first time to an HBA event will most likely be a general membership (GM) meeting. GM meetings are networking events. People come together to listen to a speaker or panel. There generally is a stated purpose to each GM meeting but the unspoken, but “make no mistake about it,” reason is for members to network with members. Your objective at any of these GM meetings is to market, NOT SELL. Yes, you are in sales and if you understand sales you know that cold calling is no fun. That’s how you will be perceived if you try to “push product;” as that sales guy or women. You will most certainly alienate yourself from those at the meeting and your chance to have opportunities to sell later will be harder or non existent. The only time it’s acceptable to sell at a GM meeting is if it’s a “Meet the Builder Night” type of event or an Associate Expo. I would advise your objective at these two types of events to be professional, know your audience and be prepared to gain the builders attention in 60 seconds or less.

Regardless of the GM’s purpose your next objective is to market yourself and your company and that’s starts with dressing professionally (or for the stated dress for the event), limit the alcohol consumption and be respectful of others engaged in conversation and never monopolize others’ time.

Let’s discuss more of the structure of the HBA. We have explained that there is a board of directors and officers at all three levels of the HBA. Other structured groups would include committees and councils which are designed for three areas of HBA need:

  1. Fund raising
  2. Legal and legislative
  3. Planning

Fundraising could include, but not limited to, golf outings, fishing tournaments, boxing nights or any other event that is fun, brings out members and guests and is designed to foster networking and camaraderie. Special events committee, such as trade shows, are also considered fundraising. When you look closely at the real need for these types of events the reason becomes clearer from an HBA perspective. The net profit generated from these events goes towards the operating expense of the HBA. Factor in the reason for the HBA you can now see that these events are needed to help protect the industry while offering more ways to engage your fellow members.

A great way to be involved, for the right reasons, is to join a committee designed for fundraising. Be actively engaged as a volunteer give you three things you wouldn’t get otherwise;

  1. a chance to develop friendships that can help you with introductions
  2. be highlighted as a volunteer for the HBA
  3. have builders notice you for your dedication

Another objective; join a committee to start your HBA involvement.

Legislative and legal committees are fantastic schools for industry education. Think about it for a moment……… you are in committee meetings that are discussing situations that could impact the building industry. There is no better place to find out how your career could be affected and if you’re a business owner it can only help you with your own company’s business planning. Political action committees (PACs) are the lifeblood, if you believe that advocacy is the true purpose of the HBA, of any level of HBA. These PACs, along with the one voice of the passionate HBA, go along way in deciding the building industry’s future based on what is happening legislatively. Another objective would be to get involved legislatively. In places you in the heart of the HBA’s purpose and its engaged members.

At this point your objectives should be a bit clearer as you navigate the HBA. This may be all you want from your HBA investment and believe me when I say this, the information in this chapter, if utilized properly, will bring you an amazing return on your investment. If you’d like to go further, having leadership as an objective, then you have to incorporate the information here into your HBA plan.

Planning committees that are designed for leaders within the association to deal with strategic plans or any other type of planning designed for long term growth of the HBA. Leaders in the association come from, in most cases, committee chairs, board members and/or officers. It is here, at these levels within the HBA, that the course of the HBA is charted. Being involved here brings you different perspectives, from different members, that can/should help you with your own long term planning.

All three levels of the HBA have committees and depending at which level you’ll notice the emphasis will change. Broad stroke overview of the state and NAHB you will find a higher concentration of legal, land use, environmental and public relations just to name a few. The state’s focus is on the over all membership of that particular state’s issues while national will take the country as a whole.

When all is said and done, the member who has utilized the HBA, not used, has had many returns on the yearly investment. Your overall objective should be “association first, my business second.” If you follow that one objective, the other objectives will fall in to place.

The next blog article will focus on practical strategies in developing relationships with builders AND associates.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair
Director of Trade Association Relations, ProBuild