By Alex Jacobs, Business Development Director
As seen in Mile 62 eMagazine.
That time of year is upon is once again, conference season. Some of you may have already attended one or more of the many conferences that have already taken place such as T3, Real Trends Gathering of Eagles or NAR Midyear. Maybe you will be attending one of the upcoming events like Inman Connect in San Francisco, NAR Annual in the fall or a brand conference. All are great events to attend and if you could attend more than one, you should try. The various events have slightly different formats and in many cases the content for the audiences will be different, but each can provide great value.
Whichever conference you choose to attend, it is important to get the most out of the time you spend at the event and to make sure you get your money’s worth. After all, conferences are meant to give you new ideas to help grow your business, learn about new technologies and services, and it is a great time for networking.
Over my 20 years in the industry I have attended more conferences than I can count on my fingers and toes, so I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks when attending a conference. Depending on your function in your company, such as if you are a Broker Owner, Executive Leadership, or Agent, you may each have a different goal or strategy in mind when attending an event, so think about your goal before attending and map out your strategy to get the most out of your time.
So, here are some of my tips and tricks to think about:
1. Prior to attending the event look at the conference material that you are sent or that is available on the conference website. Make sure to look for the sessions and topics that are of interest to you and add them to your calendar, so you know where to be and when to be there. There are lots of great speakers at the events and a lot of great ideas shared in the sessions. Don’t miss a great session because you don’t add it to your schedule.
2. If you are in the market for new technologies and services for yourself or your company, decide which companies you want to visit on the show floor. You will have a very busy schedule, so carving out some time for walking the floor and talking with vendors is important. Many times, the vendors that will be exhibiting are listed on the conference website.
3. Not all conferences have exhibitors or in some cases not all vendors will exhibit, but they will be in attendance. If you are in Senior Leadership or a Broker Owner and are exploring new solutions or services for your company, connect with those companies you are interested in learning more about prior to the conference and try to schedule time to meet with them at the event. While they may not have a booth, they will be interested in scheduling time to meet with you.
4. If the conference has an app make sure to download it. The apps will give you all the information you need at your fingertips. It will provide you with session and speaker information, exhibitor information, conference floorplans and much more.
5. If you are attending any receptions or events being fashionably late is not always fashionable. One of the reasons you attend conferences is to give you the opportunity to network and meet others in the industry. Attending receptions and events is a great way to do this. If you show up late you lose that time to potentially make a great connection. Now if you happen to be going to multiple events that overlap in time, you will be leaving one event early and arriving at another late. That’s not a problem because you will be maximizing your opportunity to meet new people.
6. Attending conferences can be very tiring and it is important to get your rest. With that being said, if you are looking to network and meet new people the hotel bar can be a great place to meet people in the evening after dinner. The lobby bar can get very busy at the events host hotel. If you don’t drink adult beverages grab a soda, coffee, or water and take the opportunity to catch up with those that you meet earlier in the day, catch up with old friends or meet new people. A lot of strong business relationships have been built in the lobby bar. After all, one of the reasons to attend conferences is to network.
7. During the conference you have spent a lot of time meeting people and building business relationships. Make sure that you connect with those new contacts on social media after the conference so that you can continue to build on those relationships. You never know which new contact will send you that referral or can introduce you to somebody that may help you grow your business.
When you attend your next event hopefully my list will give you one or two new ideas to help make the event a success. To help get you started, connect with me on LinknedIn.