Association Maximization Part 7: The Do’s and Don’ts of Building Your HBA Reputation

Association Maximization Part 7: The Do’s and Don’ts of Building Your HBA Reputation

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

Association Maximization Part 5: “The Passion of an Industry”

Association Maximization Part 5: “The Passion of an Industry”

We are not democrats. We are not republicans. We are “housers.” In order for you to fully grasp the benefit of advocacy check your overall political views at the door before you enter. Understanding your legislators political views, and how they mesh with yours, confirms that he or she has your values in their hearts. Think about these next two questions for a few minutes; what if they didn’t have your business, your career, your livelihood in their heart? Suppose you deeply believe in what your incumbent or candidate stands for but you are struggling to keep solvent?

There are quite a few passions one can have but if you are constantly and consistently “looking for business” from your membership, if nothing that was written previously has swayed you, then the one thing you can be passionate about is your job. There is no arguing this point; legislators make law and those laws can alter, redirect or dramatically change the building industry path.

The term “houser” has been utilized quite often to describe a legislator, state or federal, that has the good sense to understand the importance of a healthy home building industry. They don’t always side with the HBA’s point of view but they support the HBA’s position a major portion of the time. These men and women gain our friendship because friends care.

If you’re looking on a return on investment, what better return than business opportunities? Does that bring out the passion in you?

I can tell you one thing’s for certain and that is that the builder members are very passionate about the politics that will either harm or grow their business. Associates who directly do business with builders are just as passionate about “housers.” There are quite a few associates that have services or products that are for both builder and associate use. If it affects builders it will affect associates. If it affects both builder and associate it will affect those “indirect” associates as well. The passion of the building industry is the passion of earning a living; establishing a better way of life and having that living help provide men, women and children with shelter. Food, clothing and shelter are the three most needed necessities in life. The home building and remodeling industry is a noble industry. It builds quality shelter and improves later on that shelter. Most fond memories come from your home, either growing up or later in life. Not only does building create shelter, it helps provide the structure for memories.

If having a career and knowing what you do contributes to providing shelter and the memory making process doesn’t make you feel like you are doing something special, it should. That’s where your personal passion and advocacy passion blend to form the industry passion. Having that passion within you can give you more clarity to how you can maximize your HBA investment.

What steps can you take to become more engaged in the political arena? Start by investing financially in the political process. No, a second mortgage is not needed but something as little as $3 a week can have you investing in the process. Attending a committee that discusses proposed legislation can give you valuable insight to where your state or nation’s capitol may be heading with your income. Attending a legislative day with your HBA is a great way to talk with legislators and let them know how the proposed bill, or bills, may affect you. Politicians understand the power of passion and how that passion can rally potential “obstacles” or “easier path” to becoming elected or re-elected.

I can get into the specifics on how the process structurally works but it would be best for you to speak to your local or state president/executive officer and find the path that they have decided is best.

The only way you can know for sure is by having a little passion for continuing to earn a living in this industry.

Of course once you have checked your personal politics at the door on the way in.

Next week’s blog will focus on selling to builders by UTILIZING the HBA.

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

Association Maximization Part 4: “Social Capital”

Association Maximization Part 4: “Social Capital”

Having the knowledge of the HBA’s purpose and structure is very important. This knowledge will help you with the next steps to a successful HBA investment and that is social capital.

What is social capital? Described within social capital is “the network of social connections that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behavior, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation.” Simply stated, social capital means developing and maintaining relationships that bring value. The HBA is a fantastic place to begin relationships that can be based on friendship, business or both. In order for you to have either or both there is one word that is the key to achieving your goal; trust. Trust is not something that is handed over immediately and has to be earned. Trust turns an acquaintance into a meaningful relationship. You’re probably thinking “I know this already but how do I go about building trust?” It starts with your efforts at a general membership meeting and how you present yourself but is developed by working on key issues that the HBA and its active volunteers are working towards satisfactory outcomes. We discussed in the previous post the structure and purpose of committees and how those committees have different roads that bring us to the same place; a healthy building industry. It is here, at the committee level, that your relationship building begins.

Joining a committee, regardless of the initiatives of that particular committee, brings you into a working group. Within this working group you may be a volunteer but understand how you interact will decide how you develop relationships. Showing up on the day of the meeting and sitting there in that meeting place is one thing. People will now see you outside the general membership meeting but when you take an active role they will get to know you. The association business first, your business second mentality will demonstrate your level of passion for the HBA. Like minded associates and builders will see you as a person who is part of “the family” and not just someone who is there for a quick deal. The benefit of sharing your knowledge and skill set is twofold:

  1. You are building trust with other associates who will become comfortable with introducing you to others who can help you with your business at the appropriate time and….
  2. Demonstrate to builders that you care about their businesses by caring about the health and advancement of the building industry.

What you are doing, whether you know it or not, is auditioning. You are revealing to others just how professional you are and what type(s) of talent you possess. The best part is you are doing all of this as a volunteer. The thought is if you are this professional as a volunteer how much better could you be if you were getting compensated by handling business deals. It will take time, meaning patience, consistency and quality of participation, but your time spent as a volunteer will add to your overall return in your HBA investment.

There is a warning attached to all of this and I will share that warning with you through an actual quote from a builder member; “If you don’t ‘handle’ the builder with professionalism, all the time you’ve invested in the builders’ association has been wasted.” What does this mean? Everything you have done to develop that relationship will not be maintained if you can not perform your job when your time comes. The HBA can deliver to you all types of educational courses that can help you be a better professional but it takes desire to be a professional to truly advance. Know your potential customer’s business and its needs and prepare. This is not just limited to builder business. You may be an associate that has a product or service that works with both builder and associate members businesses. It’s the same thought process as the quote from the builder shouts out; you started as a professional, continue as a professional.

The committee level, which can be committee, council, task force or any working group, coupled with 24/7 professionalism, is the ideal place to develop and maintain your social capital.

I urge you to reread this post, and the previous three, whenever you can. The advice in these first four posts should hopefully reconfirm what you already know or help maximize your HBA experience. Regardless, like any book or audio recordings based on self improvement, you have to constantly replay the material in your mind and actually apply the material in real life situations. You can’t exercise one day and to expect to be in great health forever.

We talked about the number one purpose of the HBA and that is advocacy. Next week’s post will be about the benefits you receive from advocacy and what you can do to maximize your HBA involvement through advocacy efforts.

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

Association Maximization Part 3: “Define Your Objectives”

Association Maximization Part 3: “Define Your Objectives”

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

Association Maximization Part 2:  “Voice of One, Power of Three”

Association Maximization Part 2: “Voice of One, Power of Three”

(Note: Most states have a state HBA with only a handful being the exception. This post will concentrate on the three level membership but understand the benefits of NAHB will work with the two level membership.)

Last week’s post focused on the simple structure and lead purpose of the local HBA. This post will focus how your state HBA and NAHB interact with your local’s membership bringing the “voice of one, power of three” concept into reality.

Your state HBA’s lead purpose is advocacy. Advocacy is a description I have used for the local and now the state. I will use it again when we discuss NAHB because successful advocacy comes when members, builders AND associates, are united in the protection and growth of the building industry. The state HBA is similar in structure to the local HBA; officers lead by a builder member in the role of president and a board of directors made up primarily of builder members. This group of volunteers are individuals from each of the local HBAs throughout the state which gives the entire state’s perspective on initiatives designed for the benefit of the majority of all members. A take on the old saying “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can`t please all the people all of the time” is very appropriate here. In some cases, members at the state level will disagree on certain steps or direction. It’s OK to disagree but if you do, have a valid argument! The idea is that once a vote on a course of action has taken place the board members should now unite behind the cause and bring unity to the local HBAs.

The reason for a state HBA? I described it as advocacy but advocacy only works with the power of one voice. Individually, members can visit their state legislators but they are viewed as individuals. But the collective working as one brings attention and the passionate collective brings change. Some locals opt to work separately from their state when it comes to lobbying but, as right as they think they are, they are wrong by not working as one for the entire building industry. Coalitions only work if all parties agree to work together. The state HBA is, in a way, a coalition of local HBAs.

The state HBA also offers a great way to expand your social capital and business contacts. Through state HBA involvement you will also learn about the building industry from an entire state’s perspective with that perspective including, but not limited to, possible trends either legislatively and/or regulatory, that could be found in different sections of the state. “That’s a northern territory issue has no impact on the coast” would be an example of one part of the state being under “attack” while other sections don’t view it as a threat. One day your area will be under “attack;” wouldn’t it be fantastic to have the whole state in corner? You see, the voice of one brings the awareness, the passion of that one brings the awareness into a victory for all. I can’t stress this enough; advocacy + unity = success.

The National Association is similar in structure to the local and state HBAs. They have officers, all of which are builders, and a board of directors made up primarily of builders. This group of volunteers, just like the make up of state utilizing local members, is made up of leaders from all the United States and Puerto Rico. These leaders are from your very local. NAHB has, as do some state HBAs and local HBAs, an executive board which is much smaller than the actual national board. A lot of work is done through the executive board delivering a more streamlined “product” to the national board for guidance and direction then action. The purpose of NAHB? Unity, which brings the power of one voice through out the country, more importantly and with pinpoint accuracy, within the halls of congress. Meaning……… ADVOCACY.

One more time; advocacy + unity = success.

As you can see from last week through today, your membership brings you the most important action which safeguards your career, your business, your family and your employees families; the ability to work with and help educate the legislators, at the local, state and national levels, that could derail your chosen profession. By your self you couldn’t even begin to make a progress let alone an impact. It would be like trying to raise the ocean levels with an occasional drop of water.

The “Voice of One, Power of Three” mechanism, if embraced by you, is an exciting ride and the cost of a membership should be viewed as the cost of doing business in the most regulated industry in America. That cost becomes an investment for you personally due to the efforts, on your behalf, of the actively engaged leaders and professional staff, at all three levels,

I left out, in these first two posts, committees which are a necessary and a vital part of the structure of all three levels of your HBA membership. Next week’s posts will we will talk about starting your involvement and committees will be included with what their purpose(s) mean to you and the HBA.

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