Associations: Making the Most of Your Membership

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Given the wide range of commercial real estate associations out there today, there truly is an organization for everyone in the industry, from brokers to investors to architects.

During a recent episode of the “Commercial Real Estate Show,” I talked to leaders of five of the top commercial real estate associations in the United States about the organizations’ members, benefits and industry goals.

An Organization for Everyone

Whether you’re looking for a sector-specific organization like the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) or an association like Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network that focuses on advancing women in the industry, there is an organization out there for you.

The industry’s top associations have many of the same objectives: education of members, advocacy for members’ interests, development of leadership skills and networking opportunities.

Educational Opportunities

Elizabeth Machen, president of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), emphasized the strides her organization is making to better its educational offerings, and not just for its 18,500 members.

Elizabeth Machen

“We’re really excited to reach out to everyone in the industry, not just the IREM members, to provide them with education,” she said. IREM’s website hosts information in an easy-to-search format, and it also works with corporations to develop their internal education programs.

Richard Greninger

The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International holds online webinars in which members can gain industry insight outside of the organization’s conventions and meetings, according to Chair and CEO Richard Greninger.

The Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) organization is well known for their educational offerings and the CCIM designation. At Bull Realty we ask all our brokers to pursue and accomplish the core classes, closed business requirements and final exam to achieve their CCIM designation. We teach the business development and other skills for success in house, but we utilize CCIM for their financial and decision analysis training. 

Thomas Bisacquino


A benefit of most organizations, including CCIM, is that members can call on each other for business. “NAIOP members do business with NAIOP members,” said Thomas Bisacquino, NAIOP’s president and CEO, which counts members in all aspects of commercial real estate.

Susan Hill

Susan Hill, senior managing director at CREW, reiterated that point. “We like to say we can get a deal done from start to finish with all of our members sitting at a table,” she said of the organization’s 8,000 members, which comprise both men and women committed to advancing the success of women in the industry.

A number of the organizations featured on the episode were proud of the efforts they’ve made to expand internationally, creating a truly global network for their members.

Terry Smith

Terry Smith, president of SIOR, said the organization’s 3,000 members now span across 38 countries. By having representation in so many areas, those members have contacts they can direct clients to in all kinds of markets.

“SIOR is so much more than a network,” Smith said. “It is really a relationship-driven organization.”

Making the Most Out of Your Membership

There’s no doubt that being a part of one of these great organizations can open members up to a world of possibilities. But in order to make the most of the benefits offered, the key is to get involved at both the national and regional levels, stressed Bisacquino.

“If you’re going to invest in a membership in any organization, your best ROI is when you get involved,” he said.

The entire “Associations that Matter” episode is available at

Michael Bull, CCIM is founder of Bull Realty, Inc, a U.S. commercial real estate sales and advisory firm headquartered in Atlanta, and the host of the nationally syndicated Commercial Real Estate Show. You’re invited to connect with Michael on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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