Getting Involved in Your Industry

The benefits will make a difference

by Nicole Burdette

From the beginning of my career, I have been a member of two vital organizations that have allowed me to network for professional growth and achieve an outreach platform for communication: The Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the Building Industry Association (BIA). These organizations play a crucial role in helping professionals make connections, stay on top of trends, grow relationships, and make deals within the industry.

There are many benefits to membership with both organizations. From a career growth perspective, being able to meet with peers and bounce around ideas is important. Membership in industry organizations also gives one the opportunity to foster lasting relationships with the people who can help one’s business thrive and stay competitive. Both are trusted forums for the exchanging of ideas in order to shape tomorrow’s horizon.

“As a board member of BIA, I see firsthand the importance of being able to collaborate with industry professionals, keeping me connected and educated,” said Eric Nelson, Vice President of Community Development, Trumark Homes. “ULI is especially invaluable as an education resource. You get access to reports, tracking, training…so much information and resources are at your fingertips. This is important because once you are out of school, where would you go otherwise to keep informed on all the new regulations and cutting-edge information on trends and issues? You will be able to stay on top of things that are impacting our industry, our community and our environment.”

Both the ULI and BIA offer a platform for education and sharing through conferences, workshops, publications, and events. The ULI Education platform also shares best practices of homebuilding to learn from, while keeping members up-to-date with exclusive industry news and information, for local communities and across the nation. Eric Nelson, a colleague of mine as well as a board member of the BIA, emphasizes the importance of using their resources.

“BIA also offers a powerful voice to the local community,” Nelson added. “Not only can the BIA connect you with individuals that understand the important impact of homebuilding, but they have local advocacy, individuals who actually live in the communities we are developing. Both organizations have committees involved in many different aspects so there is plenty of opportunity to find the right group to connect with.”

Another helpful aspect of these organiza- tions are the opportunities they can provide for third-party validation, especially when working with governmental policy and local city, county, and planning commissions. These organizations bring a perspective which can help educate and are a welcome buffer when bridging gaps and making connections.

Philanthropy also plays a part of industry organization membership. Both organizations give back to the community, and it is great that our company and team members can participate and build on their outreach. We enjoy participating in HomeAid America, which is part of the BIA and a non-profit provider of housing for the homeless. This outreach gets our team and our builder partners involved and working together to make a greater impact.

At Brookfield, we are constantly evolving and growing our business, and these organizations help us stay connected to our peers and attract top talent. We use BIA and ULI to recruit new team members through the BIA OC website careers page and networking, especially when we are looking to fill a very seasoned or highly specialized job. We use the ULI member directory like a LinkedIn page. It’s a great resource to quickly connect with local talent.

And, last but not least, belonging to organizations can be fun. The events are fun and also a great way to give back! I encourage anyone who is serious about a career in the homebuilding industry to become members of these organizations — it’s just good business, allowing one to stay on top of industry trends, gain invaluable education, and make the connections needed to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. It will put you in a position to build lasting relationships with people who can help you and is truly one of the keys to your future.

Eric said it well when he stated, “If you are not a member of BIA and ULI you are missing out on the best part of what our industry has to offer.”

Nicole Burdette is Senior VP Business Strategies of Brookfield Residential, a land developer and homebuilder. For more info visit

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