It’s my favorite time of year—conference season! Conferences are a great way to market and educate yourself, but they’re an investment. The time flies by quickly, so what are you doing to make sure you leave with more than a huge bar tab? As REONetwork.com’s Business Development Manager for over 12 years, I have had an opportunity to watch the industry’s most successful REO brokers and agents grow their businesses. Here are effective strategies used by some of the top REONetwork agents to set themselves up for success at conferences.
1) Set Up a Plan – Make a list of what you want to accomplish and how you are going to get there. Writing it down will help you stay on track, organize your time, and help you see your progress.
2) Study the Agenda – Speakers on panels are subject matter experts and influencers. It’s likely they are the folks you want to meet…and the folks with whom they surround themselves too. Sit up front and use the time between panels wisely. Introduce yourself to a speaker, ask more questions, schedule a time for coffee during the conference.
3) Make a New Friend – While it’s always fun to reconnect with old friends and spend time with colleagues, you’re at conferences to meet new people. The guy or gal standing alone at the reception would enjoy hearing more about you and your company. Talk about a captive audience! I can’t tell you how many of my own longtime business relationships (and friendships) started out this way.
4) Business Cards – Always have them with you—in the elevator, coffee shop, as you’re walking through the lobby. You never know when you’ll encounter your next lead. Even in the digital age, business cards are customary for any professional interaction.
5) Pen and Paper – You’re meeting a ton of new people. How do you keep Karen straight from Carol? Jot quick notes down in a notebook or on the back of a contact’s business card. I even carry Sharpies for writing on the backs of glossy business cards.
6) Make the most of every opportunity – You’re attending conferences to learn; and remember, others want to learn from you. Yes, you! Listen. Ask lots of questions. Conversations come alive when you spark and swap ideas. Some of the best business leads can come from fellow agents and brokers. Step out of your comfort zone and volunteer to help, coordinate a dinner together, or offer to be on a panel.
7) Represent Your Brand – There’s no doubt conferences are a ton of fun! Despite the activity, music, food and drink, never forget this is a professional environment. Conduct yourself as though you’re in the office, from the way you dress to your choice of words. It’s much easier to build a positive reputation than it is to manage damage control after a lapse in judgement.
8) Follow-up – You have a stack of business cards and notes. Now what? Call, email, connect on
LinkedIn to keep the dialogue going. And do it soon, before you and the conference are a faint memory. Timely follow-up reinforces the service and care a contact can expect to receive from you if and when you engage in business.
9) Reporting – Spend your advertising dollars wisely. Keep close track of your leads and who turned into a client. Attribute this success to the conference. As you’re planning out your budget for next year, you can make clear decisions based data.
10) Be patient – It may take several conferences and follow-ups to build a relationship with that one new client. Find ways to stay top of mind with your leads. Building frequency helps ensure when a client has an asset in your area, they will come to you.
Have you found success with other strategies? I would love to hear them. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866.316.4690 or let’s chat at the next conference! I’ll be at the MBA Annual Convention in Las Vegas, October 19-22.
Windy Keefe is the Business Development Manager for REONetwork.com, the leading online directory of real estate professionals specializing in the re-marketing of REO (real estate-owned) properties. For over 12 years, Windy has connected the top brokers, agents and REO vendors nationwide with banks, asset managers, credit unions, and hedge funds.
Windy is committed to the ongoing development of brokers, agents, and vendors as they successfully market themselves to the REO industry. Her efforts have resulted in membership of more than 13,000 valued field experts across the United States. By screening each applicant carefully, Windy ensures REONetwork.com includes only the most experienced, professional REO brokers and agents. This process has helped make REONetwork.com the most established searchable database of REO brokers, agents, and vendors in the industry.
Connect with REONetwork on LinkedIn HERE!