As licensed professionals, we must take continuing education classes. It is usually the last thing we want to squeeze into our busy schedules. If you are strategic and take meaningful classes that will help you grow in your business, the time and money spent are well worth it. Although CE requirements have not changed significantly, the method in which the education is delivered has. Most CE classes are now offered online as live or recorded webinars or onsite at various locations throughout the country. While the online courses are convenient, the most rewarding benefits come from the onsite classes. Besides learning the course material, you can hear from the other participants with different experiences and knowledge to offer. We have many real estate schools in this area, who offer great courses or you can mix it up and take classes out of the area to gain more real life knowledge. You can even take a course on a cruise ship to combine your CE and vacation all in one trip!
Certain classes are required in each CE cycle, so when deciding on classes, use your CE to earn a designation or certification. Take classes to learn more about an area you would like to practice in or an area you have run into problems with; such as property management or the senior market. Not only will you gain more knowledge in these areas, but you can also add more letters after your name! The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) has 26 designations or certifications. Some designations can be earned in one CE cycle while others may take a few cycles. It is still a great way to grow while completing a necessary task. NAR completed a survey in 2013 that showed REALTORS with only one designation earned an annual income of 80% more than those without a designation. A designation will help you increase your expertise and marketability, which will give you a professional edge. Virginia has over 36,000 active agents, so anything you can do to set yourself apart from your peers is to your advantage.
Education will definitely help you and your business grow but along with that should come mentorship. Everyone, no matter who they are or where they are in life, should have a mentor. It has often been said to surround yourself with smarter people. Mentors help you define your personal and professional goals, develop skills, and provide counsel. The selection of a mentor should be a process. Find an individual mentor to work with or a group of smarter people to join. You can find a local group or join one online to gain knowledge from other areas. They need not be in real estate but should have the same values as you. Mentoring is a two-way relationship. Gain as much from the group as they can gain from you. Ask for feedback, as difficult as it may be to hear, because it is constructive criticism. Use this feedback to become a better person.
If you want to set yourself apart from your peers and earn respect from the community, continue to grow through education and mentoring. The investment is well worth the rewards.