Inman Real Estate Connect
In case you might have missed it, next week is RE Barcamp and Inman Real Estate Connect San Francisco 2008. I know that a whole lot of the AgentGenius crew is going to be there, and I am sure that a lot of the readers are going to be there, too. I can’t wait to meet everyone, and to see my friends again.
Since becoming the Community Manager for Inman News, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from folks about Connect. Everything from “what is it?” to “will there be wi-fi?” Folks have mentioned that it might be a good idea to offer some tips for folks who are going for the first time, and help out those who are conference regulars as well.
Connect is a whirlwind
I went to Connect for the first time in January in New York. The first thing that I realized is that Connect packs a TON of information and events into a 3-day period. Seriously. Between the actual conference schedule, and all of the events (like RE Barcamp) that are going on around Connect, it can be quite a whirlwind of real estate industry networking and education. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed by the whole thing. Don’t.
Just relax. Take your time. Have some fun. Learn what you can. Meet and greet with as many as you can.
A friend of mine, and fellow RE blogger, Gahlord Dewald, wrote a very good post recently about setting goals when you go to a conference. It is good advice, especially for Connect. If you know what you are trying to accomplish by attending, you are more likely to focus on that, and end up having a much more rewarding experience. There is a lot to do and see. You can’t do and see it all. Just make sure that what you actually do is in line with your overall goals. That way, everything else that you get a chance to do will be gravy.
So that covers your overall philosophy for attending Connect, or any conference, for that matter. Well, what about some practical advice?
Glad you asked. Here are some things that you might want to keep in mind when you are at Connect.
1) Read the program. When you register, you are going to get a conference program (among other schwag, of course). Read the thing. While the conference schedule is available online so that you can plan before you get there, the program is a great place to make sure what you want to do is where you thought it was, and it is also good for making notes about sessions. It also has information about the exhibition hall and the vendors.
2) Laptop optional. This seems counter-intuitive, I know. After all, this is a technology-centric conference. The fact of the matter is that wi-fi reliability is spotty at the conference. Sometimes, lugging your laptop around isn’t worth the aggravation. I carry mine in a backpack, but if you don’t have an easy way of carrying yours, I would suggest just leaving it in your room. If you absoultely MUST take it with you, it is a good idea to spend a few minutes identifying the best places to get a wi-fi signal. It will save you time in a pinch, and help you plan more effecively. Personally, I tend to go analog during the sessions, and just take notes in my moleskine notebook.
3) Get to sessions early, if you can. Some of the panels are very well attended. In fact, some of them are so popular that they have to close the doors. You don’t want to be left out of something that you really want to see. If you know there is a panel discussion that is a can’t-miss for you, plan to get there at least 10-15 minutes before it starts. That way, you aren’t forced to stand, or worse, can’t get in at all.
4) Engage others. If you do happen to find yourself with nothing to do for a time, and you are just standing around the halls, don’t just twiddle your thumbs. Talk to folks. Read someone’s badge and strike up a conversation. I was absolutely amazed at some of the interesting people that I met at Connect NYC. Many of them (like Gahlord) I still talk to regularly. Had I not reached out and started to talk to them, I would have missed out on some really great relationships. On that note– remember to have plenty of business cards. But, just in case you forget or run out, you’ve got an option.
5) Be comfortable. You don’t have to dress to the nines. Really. I mean, if that’s your thing, go for it; but you are going to want to be comfortable. Wednesday and Thursday are long days. You will be doing a lot of walking and standing and sitting, so you are going to want to wear clothes that are appropriate, but comfortable. Plus, when you are comfortable, you are more likely to have a good time and engage others.
What to do
Now that I’ve given you 5 practical tips that should improve your Connect experience, here are 5 things that I think are worth doing during your time at Connect.
1) RE Barcamp. RE Barcamp is actually the day before Connect begins, on Tuesday. It is an un-conference. Very informal, but also very informative. Check it out, if you get into San Francisco early enough.
2) Beer with Bloggers. Beer with Bloggers, sponsored by Zillow, is the party that kicks off Connect. It is a blast. The perfect place to meet and greet with folks in a relaxing, fun atmosphere. It is on Tuesday, right after RE Barcamp. I talked about my experience there in New York, and I’ll definitely be attending in San Francisco.
3) Connect Exhibition Floor. This is the place where you can find out all about the different vendors and check out their products. For those of you who have been to NAR before, this is different. No cheesy postcard or refrigerator magent companies here. What you will find are the folks that are on the bleeding edge of real estate technology. Oh, and if you get a chance, stop by the Inman News booth. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there, introducing people to the Inman.com website and all of its features. I’m never to busy to say hi.
4) The Keynote Presentation. Honestly, the keynote presentation at Connect in NYC was a little bit bizarre in topic, and quite underwhelming. Not so this time around in San Francisco. The keynote is being given by Merlin Mann. Merlin is going to share with everyone how they can get to “Inbox Zero.” I know I’ll be listening.
5) Inman Innovator Awards. Wanna know who is really on the bleeding edge of real estate innovation? These are the folks you are looking for. The award winners will be announced on Friday at 10:45 during the conference. You can be there to root for AgentGenius, as Benn and Lani hope to take home the prize for most innovative blog!
A few folks have asked me what the one must-see event or session is. For me, that is a tough one. But if I had to pick just ONE thing to go to during the whole week, I would make sure that I was at Beer With Bloggers. Why? Well, for one thing, it is a chance to meet a lot of really cool folks and have some interesting conversations. Good people and good conversation are two of my favorite things.
If I had to pick just one session to attend during Connect, it would be the “Bull vs. Bear” panel discussion at 4:15 on Wednesday. This is the second go around for this debate; this time, with new panelists. The discussion at the NYC version of the panel was lively and very enlightening. I expect more of the same this go around.
What tips can YOU offer?
I’ve been to a few conferences in my time. I am by no means, however, a conference veteran. I have stuff to learn, and every time I go to a conference, I pick up something new. I know that we probably have a lot of people in the AG audience who are much more experienced than me when it comes to conference-going, so if you have a tip, PLEASE SHARE!
What if I miss something (or the whole thing)?
This is a very good question. One that I will have intimate experience with, because I am going to have to miss a lot of the general sessions while I do my thing at the Inman booth. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of coverage to go around.
A lot of folks are going to be tweeting away. And for the ones that do, and those who want to follow, there is an easy way to do it. I’m also willing to bet that there will be quite a lot of coverage right here from all the Geniuses that will be there. 🙂
There is another option, too. If you aren’t able to make it out to San Francisco, or there are parts of the general sessions that you just can’t get to, you can check it out on video. Videos of many of the sessions will be made available exclusively to Inman Members. Membership is $149 per year. I happen to think that it is worth it, just for the videos alone, but there are a lot of other benefits as well. (DISCLOSURE– I’m the Inman News Community Manager).
Get in touch if you have questions
If you are at Connect, or going to Connect, or not going, and you have questions– don’t be afraid to ask. That’s what I’m here for. Think of it this way– you’ve got a friend on the inside. 🙂
Feel free to email me: daniel.rothamel [at] inman.com
DM me on Twitter: realestatezebra, or
even call or text-message me: (434) 962-7305.
You can always stop by the Inman booth, too. I’ll be there quite a bit. I would love to meet all my AG buddies in person. Oh, just one caveat– don’t ask me for free tickets. That is one request that is a bit above my pay grade. 😉
I hope that everyone attending has an AWESOME experience at Connect, and I hope that those who can’t make it this time get to live vicariously through everyone else and will enjoy their experiences too.
See you in San Francisco!