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In a field where the average age is 52, younger real estate practitioners often strive for a way to connect with each other and tap into valuable resources that will help them succeed in business, according to REALTOR® Magazine, which launched the Young Professionals Network (YPN).

Through national networking events, a lively blog, and an information-packed website, REALTOR® Magazine's Young Professionals Network gives members the tools they need to advance their careers — and have fun in the process!

Since then, many state and local REALTOR® associations have started their own YPN, including the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS®. Following the inaugural kickoff in February, the GNIAR YPN Committee has tripled in size. To date, more than 100 local real estate industry professionals have taken part in the group’s networking and volunteer events, according to GNIAR YPN Staff Liaison and GNIAR Director of Communications and Professional Development, Nichole DeMario.

“It has been fantastic to see young real estate professionals, those new to the business and seasoned professionals come together to not only network, but support one another and the communities they live and work in,” she said.

“Being that I have always been the youngest agent in my office – I was 23 when I started in 2008 – I felt out of place at networking events. I had toddlers while my colleagues were talking about their high school and college students,” GNIAR YPN Co-Chair Daisy Lou Alvarez with Century 21 Alliance in Valparaiso said.

“In 2010, I got an Illinois license, joined their YPN and went to a few networking events, but I wasn’t really involved. Then, I spoke to Nichole about starting one at GNIAR. Even though I was running my business with five small children while finishing my Bachelors degree, I wanted to step up and help get things started. Nichole has been amazing facilitating everything. While we were considering it, I had a closing with Jorrdan Orr (from TJ Boyle Real Estate in Highland) and told him what we were working on. He agreed to be a Co-Chair with me, and as more people became aware of what we were doing, GNIAR’s YPN came into being. I can’t always attend all the meetings or events, but I am proud that I was able to initiate it for everyone else to have fun.”

With the goal of helping young real estate professionals excel in their careers, YPN membership provides tools and encouragement so they become involved in four core areas:

• REALTOR® associations. Attend REALTOR® conferences and pursue leadership roles with their local, state and national association.

• Real estate industry. Take an active role in policy discussions and advocacy issues; be informed about the latest industry news and trends.

• Peers. Network and learn from one another by attending events, participating in online communication and seeking out mentoring opportunities.

• Community. Become exceptional members of their community by demonstrating a high level of REALTOR® professionalism and volunteering for causes they feel passionate about.

For example, GNIAR YPN volunteered with Rebuilding Together Valparaiso earlier this spring. The group of young professionals was assigned to Dayspring Women’s Center in Porter County and had the task of transforming outdated office space into workable, welcoming future counseling space for Dayspring clients.

“Rebuilding Together was a wonderful experience. I love to help, plain and simple. I've rehabbed four houses to date. So when I found out we were painting, it was perfect,” said 33-year-old Amanda Klimczak, who is a GNIAR YPN Committee Member with RE/MAX Realty Associates in Munster. “It's important to give back to Northwest Indiana. This area is not just my home, but also my family's home.”