BY Joey Valenti

As I have progressed through the years in my real estate career, I’ve discovered the importance of getting involved on a larger level beyond my own brokerage practice.

I have been part of the Retail Brokers Network for about ten years. Around five years ago, I got tapped to lead the national restaurant council which meant I led all the calls and meetings nationally. This was an incredible way to meet people and get my name out there.

As a group, the restaurant committee started putting together an annual breakfast at RECON during the RBN national meeting each May. During this breakfast meeting, I would get up in front of everybody and speak about restaurant trends and other important topics. To my surprise, I started to enjoy public speaking in that type of situation. While I didn’t enjoy public speaking when I was in school, I realized it could be fun as long as I know what I’m talking about. In this case, I certainly feel confident in my knowledge when it comes to restaurants!

Then three years ago, the executive committee of RBN called and asked me to join the committee. Generally, this is a seven year run to the President. First, you start out as secretary and then work your way into finance, marketing and various positions. Eventually, you can become President-elect and then President. Keep in mind, all of these positions are fully volunteer based.

Being involved has given me a wonderful opportunity to learn different aspects of other companies.

RBN is big on referrals. There are 800 brokers around the country involved in the organization and there were probably 200 people at this breakfast.

When I speak at the breakfast, I tell my audience that if they want to get their name out there, it’s very important for them to do what I’m doing. This means they should get involved, whether that means giving a speech or joining a committee. This helps people learn who you are.

The more people who know who you are, the more referrals you will be given just by default. For example, someone might say, “I only know one guy in Nashville and that’s Joey. I’ll give it to him.”

Being involved in organizations helps get your name out there by increasing the exposure for your name. It is also another way to learn how people are running their businesses.

Personally, leading organizations helps give me added knowledge so I never stop learning.

I was also asked to join RARE because they needed a member from Nashville, and my name was top of mind.

One of the beautiful parts of being in a leadership position is that I get to know how everything is going. If something is not going in the direction that I think it should go, I can at least make my voice heard.

Taking on leadership positions helps me stay as involved as possible and keeps me sharp while helping me meet new people. If I were to just do my retail and restaurant deals, I would be limiting myself to who I can meet and creating a smaller window within my local market.

For example, through Buffalo Wild Wings I have been able to grow my outreach more by working with national franchises. A client says I need a space in Georgia, is that something you can do? Though I had never been to that city, I just said yes and then figured it out from there and learned those markets.

The lesson learned from this is don’t focus only on what’s in front of you. For me, I am now licensed in several states. My willingness to do that led me into various forms of leadership. The real truth is I am simply not good at being bored!

When you are deciding what organizations to join and get involved in, my advice is to only take on leadership roles in organizations that you currently stand for. So many people don’t know what to get involved in because there are so many options.

When you are looking for something to take a leadership role in, figure out what you’re good and passionate about. What is it that you do best?

I’m passionate about restaurant deals and food so it was easy for me to find a path that I was fascinated in within restaurant and retail organizations. I’m more than happy to take leadership positions in things that are closely held to me and what I do.

For us, RARE and RBN are perfect to get involved in. We are already members who participate in those organizations on a regular basis and they know who we are. Furthermore, I’m willing to take on leadership positions in organizations where I think can affect change. As long as I can affect good or help grow the organization, my contribution is worthwhile for them and for me.

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