Even through the pandemic, the Women’s Council of Realtors – Mercer County Network has continued its mission of advancing women and professionals in the industry.
The network not only works to advance women and professionals in the industry, but in business and their communities as well, according to the Mercer County Network. The local network provides leadership training and education programs/presentations, once a month, on topics such as business and real estate.
“It is really an educational organization. The idea is that they have constant, especially on a national level, educational courses that you can take on leadership,” said Brigitte Sabar, secretary for the Mercer County Network and Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach. “When we pay our dues, we pay a portion to the national organization and smaller amounts to the state and local networks.”
The Mercer County Network is part of the Women’s Council of Realtors national organization headquartered in Illinois that has a New Jersey state organization, which currently consists of seven Women’s Council Networks within the state.
“There are very few organizations in the realty world that bring different women and men together. Ten percent of our membership is men, because most of the time it stays within brokerages,” Sabar said. “This is one of the few ways that different brokerages can get together in a neutral environment and not feel competitive at that time.”
A group from the Princeton area started this Mercer County Network, which focuses on promoting professionals in the community.
“Mercer County is such a mishmash. The network is centrally located to where we support Mercer County first, but we end up doing things a little bit of everywhere,” she added. “We have had people join our group from the shore, Plainsboro and West Windsor.”
When the pandemic changed normal life in March 2020, the network had to quickly adapt to the new reality.
“In January of 2020, as a network, we had all of our programs set for the year and what was left was juggling with what to do with one in December, because of the Tri-State Convention in Atlantic City for Realtors,” Sabar said. “Of course, come March, all of that went out of the window. Everything we could convert to Zoom, we converted to Zoom.”
By January of last year, annual dues had already been collected for membership within the network.
“We felt horrible about that, so we completely had to reverse the way we did things. Most of the speakers that we had arranged were able to be switched to Zoom. In terms of what the content was, obviously we talked about people purchasing homes with just looking online,” she added. “We relied heavily on our strategic partners.”
One of the programs that occurred from the networks sponsors had been on the topic of how to make lemonade from lemons.
“They got on there and spoke about what they had to do, most of it extremely positive, in order to keep their businesses going and change from operating in offices to obviously working from home,” Sabar said. “A lot of discussions and topics were about how you deal with this at home and then also what you need to do as a Realtor to protect yourself, when you are out meeting strangers.”
For 2021, the network decided to pay full membership fees for those who were members last year and attended the Zoom meetings. The Mercer County Network paid for 31 members to be members in 2021.
“We got every one of the programs we wanted to completed last year. We have been lenient about who can attend these meetings and opened up to non-members. It is a challenge, but we did it,” Sabar said. “I think the biggest advantage of this network, to me, is that I am getting to know people out of my brokerage. We are building relationships and getting educated in things I would not have time to look into.”
The next program for the Women’s Council of Realtors – Mercer County Network will be on the topic of real estate appraising on March 4.
For more information on the Zoom meetings and networking, visit wrc.org and search for the Mercer County Network.