by Zachary Benjamin, NAR Manager of International Market Development
NAR’s 80 bilateral partnerships in 60 countries require quite a bit of maintenance in order to keep them productive and valuable for U.S. REALTORS®, as well as for our 4,000+ International REALTOR® Members. While much of this work is conducted remotely from the NAR headquarters in Chicago, it is necessary to occasionally cultivate our cross-border relationships with face-to-face interaction and relationship building. This is especially important in the Asia-Pacific region, where relationships are a critical part of the business culture.
The responsibility for keeping healthy relationships between NAR and its bilateral partners is shared by the Association’s Commercial and Global Services Staff and its global volunteer corps, including our President’s Liaisons and Regional Coordinators. Every President’s Liaison is eligible for funding from NAR to make one trip to his or her country of specialization per year.
Recently, I had the privilege of joining volunteers at bilateral partner meetings in India and Indonesia, both of which are important potential growth markets for NAR. Each summer, our partner organization, NAR-India, hosts its annual conference, bringing together nearly 1,000 real estate professionals from around the world to network, share insights, and discuss best practices for conducting business in its burgeoning but developing economy. 1990 NAR president and current International Real Property Foundation CEO Norm Flynn was instrumental in establishing NAR-India in 2007. He delivered two comprehensive educational sessions on NAR’s Code of Ethics—one to a plenary session of the conference, and one to a breakout room full of India’s real estate leaders. I also addressed the full conference on “100 Years of International Associations,” including a brief history of NAR’s global engagement and of our relationship with NAR-India.
In addition to leading educational sessions, we met with leaders from NAR-India and various Indian local associations to reaffirm our shared commitment to growing cross-border business networks through increased International REALTOR® Membership, education, and attendance at the REALTORS® Conference and Expo.
I then joined NAR President’s Liaison to Indonesia, Yin Bihr of San Marino, CA, and Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator Shonee Henry of San Diego, in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, where we engaged in five days of meetings with leadership and members of our cooperating association, the Association of Real Estate Brokers of Indonesia (AREBI). This included a full-day mini-conference with nearly 80 AREBI members, during which we provided comprehensive overviews of the NAR Code of Ethics, Association history, International REALTOR® Membership, and NAR education programs. This was followed by meetings with AREBI leadership to set International REALTOR® Membership goals and equip them with the tools to market NAR programs and services—including the upcoming REALTORS® Conference and Expo in New Orleans—to their own members.
“Our bilateral partnership will allow us to enhance our relationship and foster a stronger bond between NAR and AREBI through communication and understanding the needs and assistance required between the two associations,” Bihr noted. “The outlook is very promising.”
Travel to NAR’s cooperating associations allows us to plant the seeds for growth of the REALTOR® brand and expansion of the business networks that ultimately lead to nearly $90 billion of internationally-sourced real estate business in the U.S. each year. While communication technologies have proven effective in bridging the gap between continents, there remains no substitute for a smile and a handshake in any effort to advance cross-border business relationships. What examples do you have of face-to-face international engagement leading to business opportunities?