The Ottawa YPN – Triumphs and Travails

The Ottawa Real Estate Board (OREB) created our very own Young Professionals Network (YPN) in the fall of 2013, with the help of OREA’s YPN, and spearheaded by the newly formed OREB YPN Committee. Organized real estate has really changed in the past few years. So the main goal of the new YPN was to help strengthen relationships and bring the face-to-face back to real estate through networking and educational events.

Right from the beginning, we wanted the YPN to be inclusive of all Members. Shortly after its inception, we coined the term, “It’s about attitude, not age” when talking about who would be included in this new network of professionals. The YPN was seen as an opportunity to network and learn from peers. Everyone – young or old, new to the business or more ‘seasoned’ – has a lot of knowledge to share, and if we all work together to spread our knowledge, we can create a stronger network of professionals.

Making great strides

In its second year, the YPN Committee hit great strides, hosting two very successful networking events – the Summer Social Kick-off and the Fall Social. These “Socials” were designed to encourage communication and co-operation among Board Members of ALL ages and experience levels.

Our plan was to hold quarterly “Socials”, switching up the restaurant location with each event to cater to Members in different parts of the city.

Changing our name

After mulling over the name “Young” Professionals Network for quite some time, the committee agreed that the transfer of knowledge from Member-to-Member was really important, and if we only focus on “young” professionals, we will cut Members out who have a lot of knowledge to share. If all Members want to participate, and have been, why should we put a restriction on age?

So we changed our name to Your Professional Network, still keeping it within the YPN family. Our Members responded well to this and we received kudos for becoming a more inclusive network.

A big success

Our first event after our name change was our Social Meets Smart Round Table sessions this past April. We held it at the OREB offices and invited Members who were experts in a certain topic, to be presenters. Each round was about 15 minutes, and Members were able to sit in on each of the six presentations. We had approximately 70 Members attend the event.

An electronic survey was sent out during the event and we encouraged attendees to take a few minutes to complete it, and let us know their thoughts immediately. Surprisingly, we had 50 people respond to our survey! We received a lot of great constructive criticism. The majority of the comments concerned the length of the round table sessions, they wanted them to be longer. Other great suggestions were to conduct the cocktail/networking hour ahead of time, and then move on to the sessions. A lot of people didn’t stay for the cocktail hour afterwards, but people wanted to network ahead of time.

Overall, a great success, with suggestions on how we can improve next time!

With this event, we also set-up a Google Database so that we could keep track of RSVP’s to all our events, and to also collect email addresses, names, and phone numbers. We would use this database to promote our next events. 

Then we failed miserably…

In efforts of full disclosure, our most recent Spring Social was a failure. We crashed and burned. We had a very low attendance, with the majority of attendees being the YPN committee itself…The thought was that we may have done more harm than good with this one. A few new people attended this social, and may have gotten a bad taste in their mouth because it didn’t provide a great opportunity to network, or even learn anything.

This really opened our eyes as to what appeals to Members, and what gets them to come out to events. The thought was that people only want to come out to events if they are offered something more than just networking. There needs to be some sort of enticement to get people to attend. Socializing/networking alone just doesn’t cut it. We must have networking AND some sort of education/speaker at our events. 

Moving onwards

After the failure of the Spring Social, we decided to cancel the Summer Social, and focus all of our efforts on a fall educational event to take place the evening before OREA’s Ottawa Emerge session. We decided that this event will be educational in nature, with a small social function held afterwards.

Our big draw to this event is Mayor Jim Watson, who will be talking about Ottawa’s Light Rail Transit project and the City’s plans to revamp Sparks Street.

We are optimistic that this will be a successful event for Ottawa’s YPN. An opportunity to get more Members excited about learning in a social environment.

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The Ottawa YPN – Triumphs and Travails