By Anand Patel
With conference season in full swing, I have met many new and seasoned real estate professionals debating if conferences are worth attending at all. For newer agents—the conference virgins—they look at the cost and automatically dismiss the events as too expensive to even consider. Some seasoned agents—those that have gotten rusty at it—are “too busy” to waste time at a conference. Is it worth attending conferences, events, and seminars? It all depends on your mindset going into it.
From my experience I have found that, in general, I learn more from fellow attendees than from those speaking on stage. This only happens if you make it a point to meet new people, share ideas with others, pick up tips from them, and then go home and IMPLEMENT something you learned. If you go in with an open mind and a clear intent on learning and sharing, you will find value in attending conferences. You may have heard the quote that “each person we encounter is a teacher,” well that rings true for those you encounter at conferences. Keep an open mind, filter out the bad traits and learn from the good you find in fellow attendees.
I just got back from our Florida REALTORS® Conference and can tell you I made some wonderful new connections (and referral opportunities) that will continue long after the conference ends as long as I work to foster those relationships. If I don’t keep in touch, then yes, it will have all been a waste of time. If I don’t implement anything new I learned, then yes, it was a waste of money. It’s all up to me to make it worthwhile.
Are you a conference virgin? If so, here are some tips for your first time (or if you are getting back into it):
- Most conferences these days have a hashtag (i.e. #FloridaRealtors) that you can follow on Twitter prior to, during, and after the event. This is a good way to find out what’s going on and make connections with attendees even before getting there.
- Don’t always hang out with the people you know. Mingle and make new connections.
- Bring your smartphone and tablet chargers. You will need it.
- I love to use Evernote. If you don’t have it, download the app (free) and create a “notebook” for the upcoming conference. Within that notebook, each session you attend can be labeled as separate “notes.” At the end of the day, go back over your notes and create tags so that you can easily search/review the notes three, six, or 12 months down the road and beyond.
- Follow up after the conference with those contacts you made that you wish to develop relationships with further.
There are plenty of other tips you can find on attending your first conference, but this should get you started. So, who’s coming to NAR’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando this November? This will be my first NAR conference (NAR virgin) and I’m looking forward to meeting many of our fellow YPNers from around the country. See you there? I think you’re ready!
*A quick YPN tip on getting sponsors: If you are attending a local real estate conference or trade show that will feature many vendors, this becomes a great opportunity to approach some of the them to pitch the demographic, energy, and purpose of your YPN. These vendors are all potential future sponsors for your upcoming YPN events and possible affiliate members of your local board. Try it!
Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa; Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1; or on the Web at www.anandsblog.com.