We have covered quite a bit with regards to the HBA’s purpose, how to get noticed for the “right” reasons as well as utilizing the HBA to be informed and build a business contact network.

We will now focus on the do’s and don’t of developing your HBA reputation. The list could be very long on both sides but this post will focus on a few points that should help you maintain a solid reputation.

I know I’m supposed to start with the “do’s” but I wanted to highlight the don’ts first. Plus, “Don’ts and Do’s” sounds funny!

The don’ts will start it off followed by the *do’s:

  1. Don’t use the association. Everybody is in business but don’t exploit your involvement to showcase your company. I remember one time, a member asked to attend a board meeting. The member was not on the board but asked to attend. No problem, right? The member came in early and placed his/her company’s brochure in the board packets and gave a 5 minute sales pitch to the board. Needless to say that was not the time or environment to sell. I’ve witnessed the same type of exploitation at committee meetings as well. Association business first, your business second. Wear your name badge with your company logo, introduce yourself by name, and then company name, whether you are a guest of a meeting or a member of that particular group. Make sure when you speak, it’s for the benefit of the initiative.
  2. Don’t think that the association is not providing you with business. I know members ho have said that they are not getting builder business. OK, maybe not from builder members (yet) but are you doing business with builders who are not members? Know that the HBA is helping all builders, not just members. Yes, all builders should be members of the HBA and maybe in time they will. But those non member builders are building because of the efforts of the HBA so “Yes Virginia, you are getting builder business from the HBA!”
  3. Don’t say yes and not perform. There is an old saying in the sales world, “under promise and over deliver.” The same holds true for being a volunteer. When you accept something you have asked for under promise and over deliver. Others are counting on your commitment, a commitment that you wanted. Don’t accept a responsibility or assignment unless you mean to be professional and handle it. No one will think less of you if you say you need to back out of your commitment. No one. However they will think less of you, which will hurt your reputation, if you OVER promise and UNDER deliver or, worse yet, NOT deliver at all.
  4. Don’t be a resume builder. This is the same as the last item only broader. I know members who sign up for everything, but contribute nothing. All these committees, written down, give the impression that the member is dedicated to the HBA. They’re dedicated, but they’re dedicated towards self promotion. When you volunteer be a volunteer. Contribute your thoughts, your time and particular skill set to the initiative at hand. You will be a reputation builder and you will be a valued member.
  5. Don’t interrupt members engaged in conversation. When two members are talking face to face this means they are in an intimate discussion. There is one member I know, maybe you know one as well, who is famous for barging into a conversation. Not only is it rude, you will be given a reputation as rude. And members will not go out of their way to help rude members. Be patient, there will be an opening later to say hello, or another meeting. Or an email to the person you needed to “target” that lets that person know that you saw them, timing wasn’t right for a conversation but you wanted to say hello. Thoughtful and considerate.
  6. Don’t monopolize the conversation. OK, you’re not an interrupter but are you like a pit bull with a steak bone? Do you hold onto the person you are speaking with, probably to, without consideration of others? If you are engaged in conversation with someone, maybe a builder member, and you know others would like to say hello as well, make our conversation brief and ask for a call or office visit to continue discussion.
  7. Don’t ignore or delete without reading HBA emails. You never know what the email contains and it could help you or it could be an action alert. Either way you have invested in the HBA, why ignore the information? If you feel you’re getting to much HBA email, call up the EO and ask if there are places on the HBA website that you can visit and read the information online, at your leisure. Action alerts are not leisurely and are needed to be sent out. But they are being sent to help you. Appreciate the HBA for being the guardian of the industry.
  8. Don’t show up to an HBA event in a bad mood. Everyone has a bad day and nobody wants to be around someone who talks about their bad day. That’s what therapists are paid to do. People’s impressions of you are always happening. Always be on your game when you are out in business public. Know that it’s alright to take off a night if you’re not in the mood. People want to be around others who make them feel good or at least comfortable. Wouldn’t you?
  9. Don’t act like you’re at a friend’s house for a party. There are a lot of HBA events and at those events alcohol will be served. Nobody likes a drunk and you will be remembered for that the next day, and beyond. I’m not going to tell not to drink but please know your limit! Remember, it takes time to build a reputation and one minute to ruin it. You are also not doing your company any favors either.
  10. Don’t get discouraged with your HBA investment. It’s a long term commitment that only produces a return with the type of quality you put in. Patience is a virtue but is should be required when it comes to HBA expectations as it pertains to your involvement.

Those were the ten obvious do’s and don’ts, at least to me. If you have more that you would like to share please post a comment and let us know what you’re thinking.

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