Hobnobbing for Housing Market Professionals

Hobnobbing for Housing Market Professionals
"Second Thursday" networking events organized by several local ladies are boosting business for the Tri-State's recession-reeling real estate industry. 

The housing market is enough to drive anyone to drink. And for a few local ladies it did. But in a good way.


Sandi Petrou, a local loan officer with First Place Bank, decided several years ago that Cincinnati's housing industry needed a happy hour. She organized informal get-togethers with people she worked with and told them to invite people they worked with. And, simply put, that's how the now very popular and powerful "Second Thursday" networking events got started.


But these events weren't always on Second Thursdays. They started on the first Thursday of the month, at various restaurants on the West Side of town. The audience of these events range with various people in the real estate industry, such as lenders, realtors and title companies.


Eventually, Laura Nadaud, who does corporate development with First Title Agency Inc., became one of the main organizers of the events. She introduced the opportunity for companies to "sponsor" appetizers, giving them a chance to advertise to professionals in the housing industry. It also gave them a chance to invite their clients to socialize in an informal atmosphere. 


"Then, about six years ago, after managing one of the First Title locations in Montgomery for the previous 061410VALLEYVIEW.GIFseven years, I began working in corporate development with First Title primarily on the builder end," says Sheila Baker, vice president of corporate development at First Title Agency. "I became very active with the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Cincinnati. I got together with Laura, and we got the idea to start Second Thursdays in the West Chester area."


Baker says the "builder gang" began to hold an executive meeting on the first Thursday of every month, so that night no longer worked. "We decided to birth Second Thursday," says Baker. "Laura and I have our respective distribution lists that we would email to. Even as the economy started to go south, the attendance grew and now averages around 60-90."


They prospected sponsors to cover the cost of appetizers at the event. Baker says many people in the local HBA wanted to advertise and get their name in front of builders.


In 2009, the HBA joined the Second Thursday group. "We have had several restaurants who have joined the HBA and these restaurants have been more than happy to sponsor the appetizers these days," Baker says. And this has helped to streamline HBA business as well.


Baker says they have an HBA Membership Committee meeting, which consists of about 20 committee members, at that month's particular venue at 3 p.m., then they join the networking event which begins at 4 p.m. 0110Fence_INSTORY.gif


Second Thursdays usually run from 4-7 p.m., "which allows for people to stop by early and stay for an hour or so, or to come by later if they need to work until 5 p.m.," says Baker. "A lot of folks stay and eat dinner at the location."


Previously, attendees were responsible for their own beverages. But at recent events, beverage sponsors have covered two free drink tickets for attendees. And at the conclusion of the event, the HBA and other vendors provide door prizes.


Baker says she has reaped the rewards from her work on Second Thursdays, noting many closings and strategic business partnerships directly resulting from the events. She's heard many success stories from attendees who have made connections and boosted their business from the events as well. Larry Shideler, corporate relationship manager at Tri-State Business Network Group, is one of those success stories.


"[The] HBA Second Thursday after hours events each month has been a great foundation for building my relationships and networking to build my business in 2009 and 2010," says Shideler. "Being with the HBA Team gives [people] courage, confidence and that will help build your business in 2010 and beyond."


Want to attend their next event? It'll be on July 15 (which will actually be held on the third Thursday because of the Fourth of July holiday) at the new Stonecreek location in West Chester. If you would like to be on the e-mail distribution list to learn more about this event, and future events, contact Sheila and request to be added to her database.


Neysa Ruhl
Model: Sheila Baker

Amy Scalia -


Amy Scalia, a Cincinnati native, is the editor in chief and publisher of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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