Building Bridges and Business in Brazil: Women’s Council U.S. Team Earns a Gold Medal Experience in Rio
With the Summer Olympics only three months away, a delegation of 15 US Women’s Council members participated in the first-ever International Real Estate Women’s Conference in Rio de Janeiro last month.
Brazil, an emerging economy on the world stage with the upcoming Summer Olympics, is a modern and dynamic country with successful women in the real estate industry. In fact, over 40% of Brazil’s real estate professionals are women, but less than 10% occupy leadership roles in the local association, COFECI, which is the second largest real estate association in the world (after NAR). “We wanted our American counterparts to come to Brazil and share Women’s Council’s 77-year success and history,” noted Izabel Maestrelli, director of COFECI’s Women’s Committee. “While we have a women’s group, we often get stuck planning events, versus being involved in key association issues.” Panels with American and Brazilian professionals explored these issues. Tips, experience, and information were shared. Melissa Zimbelman, 2016 Women’s Council National President who led the US delegation, encouraged the group, “Make sure you take a leadership role and tell them how you’d like to be involved, otherwise you do get stuck with tasks assigned to you.” The information exchange addressed common issues, challenges, and opportunities.
Besides the information-sharing on Women’s Council themes like leadership and mentoring, international business and referrals were also key themes of the event. The conference included exclusive tours of the still-under-construction Summer Olympics facilities in Rio. The athlete’s village, called Ilha Pura, is within walking distance to Rio’s famed beaches and it will be converted into housing targeted at international buyers after the Olympics. “I now have another country to proudly promote to my investors and second-home buyers,” said Erica Solomon from Women’s Council Baltimore area. “Having seen some of the new development projects in Rio and providing brochures makes Brazil come alive during my presentations and conversations.” Christel Silver, from Women’s Council Greater Palm Beach County (FL), made some great connections, including executives from Lennar Homes, the event sponsor. As a result of her networking with Lennar executives in Brazil, Silver was invited the following week to one of Lennar’s new developments in South Florida, which she will in turn market to professionals and their clients in her native Germany. “Referrals and business take the oddest turns,” said Silver. The Brazil connection allowed me to market a new development in my local market – to German clients! This door would not have opened without Women’s Council and the professional stature that it brought me.”
The energy and experience of the Council served as an inspiration to empower Brazil’s women professionals. Business ties were established and many of the attendees stressed that it was the experience that developed them personally and professionally. Like much of the education, networking, and camaraderie, affiliation with Women’s Council is experiential and provides something intangible that enriches its members. Lori Howard, from Women’s Council Montgomery County (TX), stated, “In Rio, the hospitality, food, real estate bus tours, and conference content was outstanding and checked off something on my bucket list. While that’s all good, what will last are connections with some incredible women in Brazil that transcend language, culture, and distance. We are now connected via social media and share our lives, ideas, encouragement, educational opportunities, and referrals.”
When Erica Solomon saw the event advertised on the Women’s Council Facebook page, despite having never travelled to Brazil, she became the first attendee to register. After she thought about it for a few minutes, Solomon said, “I told myself, if I want to grow, I got to go!” Like many of her experiences at Women’s Council, Erica forced herself to go beyond her comfort zone. Doing so paid off. “Being in Brazil, meeting so many outstanding and inspiring women and men, makes me feel proud to be a REALTOR®, a Women’s Council member, and attending the event has enhanced me personally and professionally.”
So what happens next? The event attendees are all connected on social media and the conversations, relationships, camaraderie, and business continue to evolve. Currently, Women’s Council is not working on starting a chapter in Brazil, as a local one already exists, but Women’s Council leadership met with their Brazilian counterparts and will continue to share information and support the expanding role of women real estate professionals in Brazil. The Brazil group has expressed interest in holding another event in Spring 2017, and the Brazilian counterparts have been invited to attend the November conference. The whole initiative was possible thanks to the initiative and leadership of the Brazilian real estate association, COFECI. The Lennar Homes sponsorship made the whole initiative possible. A gold medal goes to all involved!
For more information and updates check out the International Realtor Latin America Facebook page.
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