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Taking a community virtual, to expand its growth

by David Kitai on 07 Oct 2020

The REITE Club is dealing with the pandemic. The community of real estate investors, driven to grow together through education, networking, and strategic consultation has been forced, like so many others, to take their community-building efforts virtual. 

As soon as the pandemic curtailed live events, The REITE Club acted fast, hitting pause on their 300+ attendee events in Burlington, ON. and pivoted to a suite of online events and educational opportunities. In doing so, they’ve expanded their reach, improved their educational offerings, and redoubled their efforts to build a community of investors driven to diversify their portfolios and grow intellectually, financially, and personally. Two of The REITE Club’s founders told CREW how they managed to pivot successfully in a tough time for investors everywhere. 

“We’ve always made sure our community is about its members,” says Sarah Larbi, one of the founders of The REITE Club. “We thought about what our investor community needs, what they’re looking for and what’s relevant to them. We want to educate them about the changes going on in the world and we’ve worked to find the best way to present that.” 

In shifting their community online Larbi says The REITE Club has stuck to a few of its golden rules. First and foremost is a “no-pitch policy” where attendees and community members know they can attend seminars and presentations without getting a hard sales pitch. They also do not limit exposure to one professional service or product to give members choice. The takeaway should be insights and education for the attendee, not a sale for the presenter. 

COVID accelerated The REITE Club’s plans to take their meetings nationwide. Pre-pandemic they had explored webinars and online offerings but their core was still the events in Burlington. Now they’re making sure they offer content relevant to investors in Thunder Bay, Halifax,  Saskatoon, Vancouver, and other places across the country, speaking to experts in each province and region’s property market. 

A virtual offering means they can get a message across and expand their community from coast to coast to coast without forcing anyone to spend hours,  days on the road, or jumping on a plane. It’s a community they’ve grown by word of mouth and one they already see growing nationwide driven by that same engagement and excitement. 

“Growing your Club to 3,000 people from word of mouth is much better than forcing it with unwanted approaches and forced actions,” says Daniel St-Jean, another founder of The REITE Club. “It’s nice to have an uplift from social media but having someone personally invite other people to attend… that’s priceless.” 

Word of mouth has brought in big numbers, too. According to St-Jean, they are reaching an audience of around 10,000 per month through their online community, webinars, podcast and newsletter. It’s reflective of their success in building a community, but also of the needs of all levels of investors from newbie to the very experienced during these uncertain times, to learn more and grow their networks so they can be best positioned for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Their key to growth, for St-Jean and Larbi, is education. St-Jean says he often talks with possible investors who tell him they can’t get started in the industry because they lack capital. He tells them how he was able to raise $3.25 million in properties over 10 years without putting a dollar of his own money into the investments. He’s not promising the world, or a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, but he says the Club can educate investors, introduce them to others who have done it and show them just how many options they have at their disposal whatever their personal financial situation may be. 

“It's about helping everybody who wants to come on board our community to grow,” St-Jean says. “Our tagline of ‘Come Grow With Us’ is not an accident. That's exactly what we want. We want you to grow your knowledge, grow your abilities, grow your network, grow your portfolio, grow your wealth, and of course, grow your life in the process.” 

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