A new year brings in new conferences. As a 15 year real estate veteran I’ve attended several conferences. To be honest when I first attended some them I thought they were a cheerleading session and frankly, I wasn’t sure why everyone was so excited. Luckily I found out the secret to getting value out of attending conferences… Networking.

I used to think that these conferences were all about the content. Sometimes, sure there are some great speakers or “ah ha!” moments. However, the value is in the connections you make at the conference. In fact, those relationships can last much longer than the ephemeral motivation high you get from most conferences.

Here’s my do’s and don’t of how to network the right way to generate leads.

Let’s start with Don’t.

Don’t be show me your card

If you run through a crowd handing out cards, those cards are at best going into a database where you’ll get all the “This Month In Real Estate’s” you could ever want. Honestly, in case no one else will tell you there, no one wants your business card… unless they feel there’s a connection there.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

“What do you do?” – Be ready. This new connection could be an agent or a vendor or a broker or a celebrity, it doesn’t matter you should have this ready to go in the real world, don’t forget it at the conference.

Need some help? Read the How to write a mission statement guide. If you nail the “Why” portion then it makes the elevator pitch much easier. Also, time yourself. Elevator pitches are called that because you need to be able to get it out in the time it takes to ride in an elevator.
Remember The Acronyms STAY and WAIT

I learned this from leadership expert, Dr. Rob McCleland, he says, “W.A.I.T” means, Why Am I Talking. Ultimately to make the best connections you need to LISTEN. This may seem like common sense, but from my own personal experience I can tell you that most supposed “networkers” are big talkers. Be a listener, it’ll be much easier to like you.

If that one is a bit hard to do and I’ll admit it’s hard NOT to talk when you’re a salesperson. Try STAY. As in Stop Talking About Yourself. Most people love talking about themselves, let them, just don’t let it be you.

Be Prepared

There’s nothing worse than trying to make a connection with someone at a conference and they are completely unprepared. If you’re at ICNY, then you’re at a real estate event. You should be ready with your elevator pitch

Don’t just prepare your elevator pitch but be ready with questions. Visualize yourself having different conversations. Let’s say you are a realtor from Atlanta and you meet someone from Minnesota, be ready with questions about their market. Here’s a few questions for you to use while you’re there.

Some Good Networking Questions

  • What’s one of your biggest challenges right now?
  • What is that made you want to do X (job, work with that company, be an agent)?
  • What was your best takeaway from your last conference
  • Who do you know that I should know?

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