Folks in the real estate community often joke that the REALTORS® Annual Conference and Expo is like the real estate prom.
They’re only half-kidding.
Of all the real estate conferences, NAR Annual really is the one to rule them all. It’s got the most attendees (20,000!) and the most exhibitors. Cities that host the event welcome it with open arms as agents come from all over to learn, connect, network, shop, eat and stay in hotels.
As an attendee, there are things you can do to make sure you get the most out of your time at the event. For Laurie Weston Davis, of Better Homes & Gardens Lifestyle Properties in Pinehurst, North Carolina, it all starts with the app.
“The NAR Annual app is the best tool for planning your schedule,” she says. “It has all the sessions and events and lets you save what you want to attend. You can search sessions by speaker to find your favorites.”
The sessions are the real gold of the conference. And Nobu Hata, Director of Member Engagement, National Association of REALTORS,® wants you to hack education experience.
“Divide and conquer who you'll meet, which education session you'll attend and what product seems relevant to your business amongst the group of agents you're with,” he recommends. “Start a Google doc [that is] accessible by everyone you're with and write your notes there. You'll be able to not only share your experience, but also immerse yourself in others as the week goes by -- and check out the notes when you get home.”
Once you select your sessions, you’ll know when you can hit the EXPO hall. And Laurie wants you to be prepared.
“Plan time to walk the vendor hall! It's huge and packed with things that can help you build your business.” But she also has a warning.
“You can't buy everything. Think about the things you struggle with and look for things to solve those problems. Shiny new toys can be distracting and take your attention away from the things that matter.”
South Florida super star agent Samantha DeBianchi has a survival kit she brings to every conference. “I always have chapstick and deodorant,” she shares. “Then I have a pair of flip flops because I hate wearing heels all day. I keep green tea bags and chocolate in my bag. The chocolate is perfect give yourself a little pickmeup or share with someone you meet. And last but not least, I always have pens. You’d be amazed how few people have a pen on them!”
Andrew Flachner of RealScout is all about the connections you can make at conferences. But he wants you to be mindful. “Avoid transactional encounters,” he says. “They're often tacky and are ineffective. Instead, invest deeply in relationships and personal/professional success will follow.”
For Molly McKinley of Relola, it’s all about homework. “Before every conference, and especially NAR, I research who I want to meet and figure out what they care about. That gives me a better handle on how to focus the conversation,” she tells us. “In the old PR days, we created a briefing book with bios and facts on each person. I print it out just in case the WiFi is bad or my phone dies.”
Molly has learned the hard way to keep a mobile charger with her at all times.
As you attend the educational sessions and meet with people, you will want to take notes. It can be a bit of a fire hose of information. In his blog post on conferences, Zvi Band from Contactually recommends using one note-taking source for everything.
“Have a notebook or open note-taking application. I open a single note in Evernote, and use my iPad instead of a laptop for battery life. It’s important to capture raw, stream-of-consciousness notes.”
Relola CEO Heather Sittig Jackson is in agreement. “Always take notes about your conversations with people,” she says. “In the moment, you’ll think that you will definitely remember everything, but you won't. And when you go back and read your notes after the conference you will have many ‘ah ha’ moments!”
She also advises you stay hydrated and eat right, which she knows firsthand can be a challenge. “If you see something remotely nutritious and edible -- eat it. Otherwise you might find yourself eating orange gummy bears for breakfast and lunch!”
So with all that in mind, don't forget to stop by Relola booth #1618. We've got big changes for how REALTORS showcase their local expertise. Stop by to check it out!