A Recipe for Maximizing Your Inman Connect Experience
I just returned from my first ever visit to an Inman Real Estate Connect conference in New York City. I was honored to have been invited as an Ambassador Representative and spent my time shooting and sharing lots of video from the event (as well as the Agent ReBoot event that took place the day prior).
I’m sure many of you may have attended a Real Estate Connect conference but I am guessing that the majority of you reading this have not. I hope you will consider attending an event in the near future and if you do, here’s a helpful A to Z checklist that should help make your experience memorable.
B - Build relationships. You'll meet many people for the first time and others who you've known for years. Take every moment to strengthen your friendships with these people and seek ways to help them become more successful in their careers and lives.
C - Chris Smith, Chief Evangelist for Inman News - One of the "Shooting Stars" in the real estate industry, Chris is really good at what he does. He's an eager learner and always genuinely excited to share his knowledge and excitement for new products, tools or techniques with his real estate audiences. Chris is great on social media platforms and webinars but where he really shines is on stage and Inman Connect and Agent ReBoot really gives him the opportunity to be at his best. As busy as Chris is, he's always conscious about making everyone feel personally welcome and appreciated for attending.
D - Download the Real Estate Connect App for your phone or tablet. Sure, you'll get a nice hard copy program when you check in at the event but having the agenda, speaker information and vendors available at your fingertips, it's a great way to navigate your way through the busy agenda and you don’t have to carry around a program.
E - Extra batteries - for your phones and laptops...or at least be sure to get a full charge each night and during breaks. You will be taking notes, photos, videos and sharing info and “tweetable” statements or facts with your social networks so be expecting your battery power to diminish as the day goes on.
F - Facebook - The Inman News, Agent ReBoot and Inman Connect Attendees pages are great sites before, during & after the event to connect with like minded professionals and review videos and blog posts from many of the great sessions. Have you “liked” all of these pages yet?
G - Greeting. What's your "seven-second presentation"? Who are you, where are you from and what do you do? What made you attend Inman Connect? You won't have time to get into deep conversations with everyone so get ready to make a great first impression...over and over and over again.
H - Hash Tag - utilize #ICNY - the Twitter "conversation tag" known as a hash tag that groups all tweets concerning the event in one consistent stream. It's a great way to catch up on sessions and conversations you might have missed while attending another meeting or session and it's perfect for those who don't attend Inman Connect.
I – I.R.L - Be prepared to meet many of your social network friends for the first time "In Real Life."Will the people who have never met you except via the social channels get what they expected...or more?
J - Join in Conversations. These could be with friends or strangers, presenters or vendors. Raise your hands during the Q&A and be active on Twitter throughout the events. Just don't go home thinking to yourself, "I wish I would have spoken to more people." (Something tells me you're not going to spend the time and money to attend Connect and not do your best to do just that...Connect. Right?)
K - Katie Lance, Director of Social Media for Inman, serves as co-emcee (with Chris Smith) and does a wonderful job of engaging presenters, vendors and attendees and making everyone feel appreciated for attending. Her passion for the material and engagement with the guests on stage really makes each session fly by. Katie is on the short list of “must know” peeps.
L - Live Blogging is a great way to stay in touch with what's happening with the event. Even if you're sitting in the audience, having the live blog feed available can provide another person's perspective on the same presentation. Or, you could suggest your co-workers and peers who couldn't attend Inman Connect follow the live blog "back home" and share and questions or comments for you to relay in person.
M - Make a list of people you want to see or sessions you want to attend and plan accordingly. Michael McClure from Professional One Realtors in Plymouth, Michigan used a white board (on right) to remind himself of all the people he wanted to make an effort to see. He shared this list on Facebook and many others used Michael’s list as a great place to start. (Note – when Michael McClure sees value in meeting/spending time with someone…you probably should too. But don’t just do it because Michael says so. Do it because you have a chance to make a new connection that could benefit both parties down the road.)
N - Needs. Determine what are the ideas, information or initiatives that your business, brokerage, brand or board needs and seek out the people or presentations that might help supply what you're looking for.
O - Open your mind to new possibilities. There are presenters and vendors from all over the globe so your initial instinct might be to say "that doesn't apply to my market/business." While that may be true, don't rule anything out. You never know what might be the next best thing or who might be the next big star. You’ll be able to brag that you learned about it back at Inman Connect.
P - Prioritize the workshop sessions to attend based on your reason for attending Inman Connect. You can only be in one session at a time so pick the one that has the best chance of helping you grow your business now. Remember, the other sessions will be tweeted about and possibly videotaped so relax, pay attention and enjoy.
Q - Quench your thirst at Cocktails at Connect, a wonderful cocktail hour that invites attendees and vendors to mix & mingle. A great chance to relax after a power-packed first day and begin to meet some of the incredible minds who attend Inman Connect and the listen to the stories they have to share.
R – Remember to bring lots of business cards. You will meet tons of people who you’ll want to follow up with after the event so stuff your luggage with a stack of business cards. Many of the vendors hold drawing for some fabulous gifts and leaving them a card not only increases your chances of winning something really cool but also allows them to keep you updated on all the new gizmos and gadgets hitting the market.
S – Share – Everyone who attends will learn something by attending but everyone who attends can also contribute to the event as well. Give immediate feedback to vendors about their product or service, discuss your thoughts with a panelist during or after a presentation or engage with a fellow attendee in “Lobby-Con” – the unofficial term for the conference that happens in the hallways after the daily agenda is complete. Remember the name of the event is “Connect” so do your best to do that, both in words and actions.
T – Take plenty of notes. Whether you are old school and use paper & pen or harness the technology of your iPad or iPhone and utilize cool apps like Evernote, be sure to jot down ideas, nuggets of wisdom or suggestions from the speakers and guests. You also might wish to snap lots of pictures or use the video camera on your phone of cool screen shots, people or products you may see and want to remember when you back home and re-focused on your day-to-day business.
U – Use social networks to expand these new relationships you will be creating during your time at the event. Connect on Facebook (always send a personal message introducing yourself so they can add you to the proper ICNY 2012 list or so you can remind them how you met – “We were talking in the lobby about XYZ strategy, etc.”) or follow them on Twitter. (see ‘H’ for Hash Tag)
V - Visit. Most attendees are from places other than New York City (or San Francisco) so do your best to enjoy your time before or after the event during lunch breaks and after hours to explore the wonderful host city. Restaurant, shows, tours and sporting events are the perfect "disconnect" to avoid “all work and no play” making you a dull boy (or girl).
W - Why? Ask yourself before attending, "why you have made the investment in yourself and your career and/or company to attend Inman Connect?” Remind yourself of this often so when your email and phone start “blowing up” with business back home, you can stay focused on the event and address work issues on lunch breaks or after hours. Remember, you don't need to spend $1,000s of dollars to fly to NYC just to run your business from a hotel room.
X – ‘X’ out some time in your schedule to attend future Inman events such as Agent Reboot, Real Estate Connect San Francisco, Inman NEXT webinars and even next year’s Real Estate Connect NYC. I can’t tell you how many people I met who have built their 2012 schedule around these events because they understand the tremendous value they bring to their business.
Y - You Tube - Lots of the sessions are filmed and posted for viewing and sharing after the event. As many attendees are busy tweeting and/or taking notes during live sessions, re-watching the videos later might be just like seeing them for the first time.
Z - Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz - get plenty of sleep before the event because you will not get much during it…but you'll be so pumped up by all of the energy and “buzz” you probably won't need much. Or you could always plan to sleep on the plane or train ride home.
I hope you’ll make plans to join Inman in San Francisco later this summer or possibly participate in one of the many Agent ReBoot events that will be coming to a city near you.
Until we may cross paths in the future, best wishes for a successful 2012 and beyond. I encourage you to look for opportunities to build relationships, solve problems and have fun.