The best way to get the most from your next real estate conference is to plan ahead, attend strategically, and follow-up. Follow our easy guide for traveling smoothly, learning more, and using the connections you’ll make at the conference to build your business.
1. Schedule your travel early
Scheduling travel can be a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead. Book your travel and hotel as soon as you can to ensure you get an affordable flight and have the flexibility of arriving a day or two before the conference begins. Also, arrange to stay at the location of the conference. Staying in the same location as the event means you don’t miss out on anything that the event has to offer, run-ins and networking in the lobby, not to mention a few extra minutes of sleep for you every morning.
2. Pack the necessities
When you’re packing, pack clothing that is versatile and appropriate to the conference. Most conferences will provide attendees with a dress code ahead of the event. You’re going to do a lot of standing and walking, be sure to bring a comfortable pair of shoes. Bring plenty of business cards. You never know who you will meet at a conference. You could meet an important contact anywhere – the lobby, the bar or even riding the elevator. You never know, so be prepared.
3. Have a technology plan
Make a list of the computers, phones, and technology accessories you need to bring. So you don’t forget your charger! You’re going to be at a conference with industry pros getting insights and trends. You might want to record video, capture photos or take notes on your phone or laptop. A portable charger gives you a backup plan in the event you can’t get to an outlet during a breakout session or need a quick jump of battery life.
4. Go with a game plan!
Don’t go to an event unprepared. Before you head to the show make a list of the goals you want to achieve by visiting the show. Include your personal goals and those of your company. Read the list of exhibitors ahead of time and make a list of the people and companies you want to connect with. Take time to research exhibitors that you might be interested in learning more about and questions you might have about an offering or product. In a large exhibition hall, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Having a game plan can ensure you talk with those who you most want to talk with.
Use systems like Evernote to organize and plan your strategy so you can easily reference key learnings afterwards.
5. Choose & attend interesting sessions
One of the best things about conferences is the opportunity to participate in sessions that give you clarity around dangers facing your business and industry trends through informational panels, workshops and breakout sessions. Practically all conferences will have a list of opportunities to choose from and oftentimes the sessions will overlap, so selecting the best ones to go to can be difficult. Identify the sessions that are most interesting to you or that could have the biggest impact to growing your business. Go to as many sessions as you can because you never know what you might learn.
Typically, each conference has a mobile app or an easy to navigate conference schedule. Be sure to check out your conference’s website to highlight the sessions you think will be most beneficial to you!
6. Be present
While attending sessions, participate! Turn the phone off, take detailed notes and ask questions! It is really easy to forget things and no matter how much you think you will remember something, you won’t. Write down everything that is interesting to you. Don’t be shy about asking questions on points you are especially interested in or need clarification around.
It’s easy to get distracted – so good old fashioned pen and paper is your best bet.
7. Be social – tweet, tag, post!
Social Media is a huge part of conferences these days. Almost every event has a hashtag or app that allows you to follow along with what’s going on at the conference while sharing your conference thoughts and experiences. Typically, you’ll find there is a great deal of chatter around the conference in the social sphere. Be a part of that dialogue by posting tidbits like images, videos, and quotes using the event hashtag to drive traffic and engagement to your social media accounts.
Tweetdeck, a powerful twitter client, is great for identifying hashtags you want to follow so you can follow specific feeds, regardless of what conference you’re attending.
8. Network, network, network
One of the greatest benefits of attending events is the opportunity to meet other people in the industry. Take advantage of having industry leaders in one room. Practice introducing yourself in one sentence. You’re going to be doing this over and over when you meet new people, and you want it to be polished. Talk to everyone and be approachable. The more people you talk to the more you will learn and the more connections you will make. Talk to different people. It’s easy to find ourselves settling into our comfort zone and talking with friends at the conference, but this is your chance to meet and mingle with as many people as you can. A great conversation starter is to introduce yourself and ask if they’ve been to any good sessions. It’s also a good idea to take notes on the back of their business cards about what you talked about. And finally, don’t make non-work plans for the evenings. A ton of networking happens in the evening, often spontaneously. You’ll want to keep your evenings open and be available for that last minute dinner or outing.
9. Take advantage of show offerings
The special pricing that exhibitors were offering won’t last forever, so be sure to understand what the exclusive offering entails and take advantage of it. Not to mention, you have a personal relationship with a contact at the company that you can reach out to should you have any additional questions.
10. Follow up with new contacts
When you’re back at your office, follow up with the new people you met at the conference. Email them to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. It’s always a good idea to reference something you talked about – this is where the notes on the back of the cards come in handy.
11. Recap notes and share
Review the detailed notes you took while at the sessions. Share the tid-bits you learned with peers and employees. Share quotes from speakers on social media, recap your experience with a blog post, create an infographic or email to clients including your outlook on industry trends. This is a great opportunity to use the ideas and content you collected from the conference for marketing activities that bring attention to your brand.