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Inman Connect NYC 2020 Key Take-Aways

Inman Connect NYC is always one of my favorite real estate events. It has always held a spot that is near and dear to me in my heart! This was the 10th year attending Inman Connect NYC and what I always love about Inman are the unique and diverse speakers they bring to the stage as well as many industry veterans. However, one of the main reasons I love Connect each and every year are truly the connections I have made over the years.

This year, I had the pleasure of unofficially kicking off Inman Connect on Tuesday and co-hosting the marketing track. I kicked off the day by talking about two key areas for marketing in 2020: relationships are king and content is queen.

Real estate is and always will be a relationship business. It’s always so gratifying to be around “my people” at Inman. The people who truly are heart-centered when it comes to why they love this industry and why they are in it. When I am at Inman each year I intentionally host a few small get-togethers and this year I had such a blast connecting with people from different places geographically and different places within the industry. Also, for the fourth year in a row I helped to organize a small group to take in a Broadway show. This year we saw ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and it was unbelievably moving – one of the best shows I’ve seen!

In terms of content – there are still big, big opportunities for great, original video content.  I think every Inman I have ever been to there has been a conversation about video. YouTube is a huge opportunity for agents and brokers as well as Facebook video and Instagram Stories. Video is all about the ‘long-game’ and being willing to put yourself out there, consistently, over the course of time. This really reinforced my beliefs in the power of video especially when I think about our #GetSocialSmart show on YouTube and how after three years – the traction we are receiving from that as well as from doubling down on our Instagram Stories content. In addition to content – it is exciting to see so many people embracing podcasts and it’s been incredible to see our podcast audience grow since we launched in 2019.

Here are some additional take-aways from some of my dear friends, colleagues, ambassadors and respected industry peers. Grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage – these take-aways are well-worth the read!

Abby Lee | SVP of Marketing and Communication, RE/MAX LLC.
The biggest takeaway from our panel was that personalization should be a priority for agents and brokers alike. Whether this comes in the form as video through various channels, or in a more offline relationship, receiving the right message at the right time is key to being at the top of a consumer’s mind.

Amie Quirarte | Real Estate Agent, Tahoe Luxury Properties
Create marketing (newsletter) lists that are not only specific to your real estate clients. For example, have a list of divorce attorneys, financial planners, estate planning attorneys, etc. and send them their own, very specific, newsletter so you stay top of mind when they need to pass out a referral.

Real estate business happens when big life transitions happen: Marriage, children, divorce, new job, losing job. Most people don’t wake up and think “We need to sell our house”, they think “We are having a child so we need a bigger house, or we are getting divorced so we need to sell our house”.

When it comes to a new marketing strategy, commit to using it for 18 months before deciding if it is working or not.

Amy Cesario | Realtor, Slifer, Smith & Frampton – Denver
This year I heard what I’ve thought for years. That the big companies are screaming at the top of their lungs about how they are disrupting our industry and the agents on the ground are doing the same things we’ve done for years and we are still flourishing while they are beating their chests trying to disrupt something. There is no “one size fits all” in this industry. Accept that we can all be successful, know your worth, your strengths and who your clients are and what they want and need from you. I hadn’t thought of it until Marci James said it, but it’s probably because women were leading so many of the discussions.

Anne Jones | Founder, Windermere Abode
It no longer matters what we have always done, or what we think is the right thing for our clients. If we don’t provide them value on their terms, they will find another provider who will. This particularly resonated when it came to options for financing. In markets like ours where inventory is thin, first time buyers are struggling to get their foot in the door. Some of these new products could make them more competitive, and we need to educate ourselves on those options. One of my biggest takeaways from ICNY happened offstage when I was speaking to one of the Newsday reporters. She said that one of the testers in their study didn’t realize she’d been discriminated against until they compared results with the white tester afterwards. That’s when she discovered that Realtors can be polite to a potential client of color, yet still act as “gatekeeper” by offering different information than was offered to a white prospect. This kind of discrimination may be harder to spot and/or call out, but is no less damaging because it quietly perpetuates historical segregation. I wanted this dialogue to go deeper, so it’s up to us to continue the conversation!

Bonneau Ansley | Founder & CEO, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate
Teams are all structured differently. I started and use my team at first to leverage my weakness. I am best outside the office meeting clients and showing homes. Everything else gets done inside the office where I am least effective. Scheduling, writing contracts, agreements, marketing, and social media would take me most of the day, so I have leveraged those time restrictions with the perfect type of person to fill those spots. Leveraging yourself is the best way to achieve extraordinary results. I do not have buyer agents or listing agents, we all work together on my team and divide and conquer with my clients. We meet regularly to ensure maximum efficiency.

Caroline Bass | Associate Broker, The Corcoran Group
Networking with other individuals from around the country and learning each other’s best practices is incredibly valuable and one of my favorite parts of Inman. I was able to meet a number of agents and brokers who were friendly, outgoing and looking to up their real estate game. Walking through all the booths and learning about the new technologies and apps on the market is one of my other favorite parts. From the InstaUnicorns to Matterport, it helps me stay on target with new trends so I can evaluate what’s best to add to my business.

Christine George | President, Marketing/Business Development, Leading Edge Real Estate 
ICNY is my favorite real estate conference of the year. This year two themes resonated with me the most. First, relationships matter. In today’s digital age when distractions and notifications are at an all-time high, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of being ever-present in our day-to-day interactions with the people we serve. The second is the idea that leadership happens when you make the choice to lead. It doesn’t matter what your role is, leadership happens when we do the things we don’t want to do, push past the disappointment to support those around us, and when we put others ahead of ourselves.

Debra Trappen | CEO, Head of Moxie,
People want to be seen, heard, and accepted. During the last decade, this belief I hold so dear has felt like it was getting pushed farther and farther away in the real estate industry with each new “disruption”. However, this year I was pleasantly surprised by several conversations I had and a handful of sessions filled with hope and a refocus back on the human connection and building real, radical relationships. Here are my additional thoughts on the event:

Jackie Soto | Broker/Owner, eHomes
Will Guidara’s talk at CEO Connect on providing “UNREASONABLE hospitality” has to be my favorite of all moments. Tech will never be able to replace our “UNREASONABLE hospitality”. He hit the nail on the head when he said, “When we know people’s vulnerabilities and fears we can actually serve them.” #undisruptable

Jeff Lobb | CEO/Founder, SparkTank Media
The focus needs to be on people not tech. We are in the business of people. Real estate is our product and what we sell is trust! So many agents have business cards that say “I’m never too busy for your Referrals”. But then I ask the question “How much time do you spend connecting with those clients in a meaningful way, to EARN those referrals.” Conversations win clients, not campaigns.

Jordan Schilleci | Founder & REALTOR®, Jo & Co. Realty Group
Just like New York City, Inman is what you make of it. If you didn’t find what you came here looking for, look within. What I got out of Inman Connect, wasn’t how to use a new app, or what big bad corporation is trying to kick real estate agents to the curb. What I learned, is that there are people just like me, from around the states (and world), who are just as driven as me. And because I came to Inman I got to meet so many new people. What I got out of Inman was after hour and in between speaker conversations. Conversations that turned the wheels up in my brain. Conversations with stories to learn from. I got so much more than I can put to words, although I do have 10 pages of notes. I got an experience.

Karen Ekofo | Settlement Attorney, Ekko Title
I’ve been giving this some thought. I think that this headline for a session really captured everything – Be The App Store, Not the App. From your marketing session track that you moderated and all the other sessions, what I came away with is that there is a very tight connection (maybe symbiosis?) between relationship, content, and data. Relationships drive our content, and as a result of people watching our content, we’re able to collect data that helps us to continue to nurture the relationship. That is a very 30,000 viewpoint that I am coming away with from the conference.

Lee Arnold | Broker/Owner, BenchMark SoCal
Don’t be fooled or intimidated by iBuyers. They only have a small percentage of the market. Agents that provide stellar service will continue to be the #1 choice of buyers and sellers for a long time!

Marci James | Director of Social Outreach,
The women won. There were many amazing, intelligent strong women who graced the Inman Connect stage at ICNY this year! My favorites included Kirstie Ennis, Valerie Alexander, and Abby Wambach. Each of them touched my heart and challenged me to be better.

Mitch Robinson | Chief Marketing Officer, eXp World Holdings
Innovation should and will continue to take place in our industry. It’s not something we should be afraid of as ultimately the work of an individual agent is key.I was happy to see from our session which kicked off Connect through the next few days, there was a lot of talk about how an agent ultimately engages with a consumer on one of the most important life choices a person can make. The bond an agent creates with a client over an important transaction is a business relationship that will continue to be key to our industry and the success of all agents

Richard Silver | Sales Representative, Global Real Estate Advisor | Sotheby’s International Realty Canada 
It’s all about networking and learning from being surrounded by some very smart people.
My reason for going? I was searching for guidance and direction for a new website and interviewed three wonderful potentials. I decided after a few meetings that moving forward was impossible until I had a good grasp on where I had been and where I am now. An audit is now in the works by a third party to see if there really is a need or if I am just restless. An educated decision was needed for clarity.

Sara Sutachan | Vice President, Industry Relations & Strategic Initiatives, California Association of Realtors 
The Newsday reporters have done some phenomenal work and gave us all a powerful wakeup call. One takeaway for me was this industry has the power to make a difference. We have the power to change communities. We have the power to call out negative behavior. We have the power to treat people with dignity, respect and equity, regardless of color or background or gender or sexual orientation. Period. Abby Wambach was such a highlight. Her message was about stepping into our power – our power to make a difference in the lives of our clients or our power to lead teams or companies. It made me think about how we are doing WomanUP!®?. We are leaning on the backs of so many women who have blazed the trail before us and so many who are working hard every day. Tami Bonnell was magnificent on stage talking about how to win the next 10 years – she shared that her company’s success is built on “human potential.” She closed out the discussion with a focus on women – she shared that there will be a power shift over the next decade in terms of who holds the pursestrings. Not only are women in business rising UP!, there will also be a demographic shift from 2020 to 2030. #WomanUP!

Sara Werner Costa | CEO, The Costa Group
First of all: I was reminded, yet again, that stepping away from the business to expand our minds (with knowledge) and our hearts is one of the very best ways to open up the transaction flow to our business. Secondly: Time goes really fast and it is so important that we take time to do things like this to grow and connect. Being on stage with my fellow 30 under 30 (2012) honoree Caroline Bass from The Corcoran Group NYC was nostalgic. Situated on opposite sides of the country, we have both since become mothers and have grown our respective businesses exponentially. But more than the production piece, we have grown older and wiser in all things life, love & business; and are better than ever as individuals—both personally & as professionals. I will never ever second guess if attending an Inman event is worth it. It was profound. Lastly, I have been speaking at real estate events for over a decade, and this was the first time I got on stage as my FULL self (#nofilter!): Danced onto stage, I wore my wild leopard print skirt, I spoke about how my heart & soul are my favorite “apps”/tools to help my clients. And the people who came up to me afterwards were exactly the people I came to meet. Open-hearted, spiritual, authentic professionals living & speaking their truth, and kicking major butt in the industry. It was a true affirmation that we’ve chosen one of the best, most fun, exciting, beautiful and powerful industries in the world. So grateful.

Valerie Alexander | Keynote Speaker and Author
It was such an enormous thrill not only to get to hear Abby Wambach speak, but to get to tell her how much her career and activism have meant to me. I was also so happy to be asked to speak on ways the real estate community can work to overcome existing bias in the industry. We are at a time when these issues have to be addressed and it’s great that Inman Connect provided a platform for that conversation.

Vija Williams | Director of Growth, Ben Kinney Companies
It was a great Connect this year. There were a lot of new faces and new players in the crowd and on stage. Notably absent was Compass, because they have been notably present the last 2-3 Connects. The overall theme and aha I took from this is that there is a collective move towards core services and brands targeting the total homebuying and homeowning experience cradle to grave. It’s not just real estate sales anymore, it’s that plus financing (a lot of good, creative fintech options), ancillary services like title and escrow, and after sale home services. It’s exciting to see because it’s the direction we are going in at Ben Kinney Companies.

Steve Weiss | Broker/Owner, Coast & County Brokers
I’ve been attending ICNY since 2007. The Inman Team continues to exceeds all expectations with the amount of content and type of speakers they attract. It’s always difficult for me to choose one or two favorites as they are all present so well. But something I can say without any doubt is, the people I have met, the “connections” I have made over these many years are truly invaluable and many of them have become not only a referral source, but more importantly, lifelong friends. ICNY 2020 was no different and left making numerous new connections and visiting with those lifelong friends. It couldn’t have been better.

Whew, those were some great take-aways! A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to this article and a big thank you to Brad Inman and the entire Inman team for putting on another first-class event! Were you at ICNY? I’d love your take-aways – send me a tweet or message me over on Instagram! 


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