With multiple tracks, countless workshops, and hundreds of speakers, real estate conferences can be overwhelming if you don't have a plan. Here are 10 tips to help you make the most of your time at these industry events.
- Don’t miss the virtual content. You'll probably face some tough choices when deciding which sessions to attend. These days, most conference tickets include access to virtual content, too. After the event, watch the recordings of any session you couldn’t attend or re-watch the ones you loved to capture every insightful moment.
- Get social. Get on Twitter and LinkedIn and follow the experts and organizations you want to connect with before you get there. That way you’ll hear about every event they’re sponsoring, where they’ll be speaking, and how you can meet them in person.
- Download the app. Most conferences now have their own apps. Download your conference's app before you leave home to get notifications, access venue maps, and receive important reminders — all from one screen.
- Plan meetings. Don’t assume you’ll run into the people you hope to see. If there’s someone you really want to connect with during the conference, schedule a meeting with them beforehand. Invite them to dinner, plan to meet for lunch between sessions, or have an early morning get-together over coffee. Some of the best learning happens in the “unofficial sessions”.
- Create a schedule. Don’t be frantic — be strategic. Think about your goals: what do you hope to get out of this conference? According to Dorie Clark, author of Standout Networking, there are two reasons to attend a session: 1. To learn something new. 2. To meet or support the person presenting.
Study the agenda in advance and add each event you want to attend to your work calendar. Be sure to include detailed location information. Choose a backup session, too. Sometimes sessions fill up and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to learn because you didn’t have a plan.
- Divide and conquer. If a teammate is attending the conference with you, resist the temptation to attend the same sessions. Compare calendars (see #5 above) and decide who’ll cover what so you can be exposed to as many ideas, people, and insights as possible. You can always compare notes over drinks in the evening.
- Take notes. Studies show that people who take notes by hand learn more than people who type notes on a laptop. Bonus: notebooks are also notification free, making it easier to concentrate on the session you’re attending. If you insist on taking notes on your laptop, put it in “do not disturb” mode at the beginning of each session so you can focus.
- Ask questions. Raise your hand during the Q&A, attend meet-and-greet events with speakers, and wait in line to get an answer if you have to. If you can’t get your questions answered during the event, follow up on Twitter or LinkedIn.
- Review the highlights. Attend "highlight" or "takeaway" sessions each day. Many conferences offer these as the last event of the day on the main stage.
- Pack well and get excited! Conference days are long — wear comfy shoes and clothes. Don’t forget to carry water, snacks, business cards, a notebook, and extra pens. You're investing time and money in your attendance — being prepared helps you maximize your ROI.
Julie Youngblood, Partner Lead Manager at Homeward, hosted her first open house at the age of 16. She went to real estate school at 17 and earned her license at 19. A year later she was leading one of the most successful teams in Southern Nevada. In 2010 she opened Youngblood Coaching & Consulting to mentor agents nationwide. She is an Inman Top 25 Coach who has coached more than $3B in gross commission income. As Partner Lead Manager, Julie manages the strategy, execution, and integration of key partnerships with top brokerages.