This past week was a whirlwind! I attended my 14th Inman Connect conference (and my 8th one in San Francisco) this past week.
Inman Connect has been an important part of my professional life for many years. As some of you who know my story know, I attended my first Inman conference in 2007 when I was the marketing director for a local real estate brokerage. I remember sitting in the back room in between my CEO and “someone who worked for Google” and thinking, “wow, this is my kind of crowd!” The best in technology, marketing and real estate – all in one place.
Fast-forward a few years and I had the good fortune of working for Inman and knowing this conference on a much more personal level. From speaking onstage to helping to shape the program, to developing a social media strategy, to launching the Inman ambassador program – Inman Connect will always hold a very special place in my heart!
In 2012, when I decided to take a leap of faith and join the ranks of entrepreneurs everywhere – Inman Connect took on an even more important role. This time, instead of being center stage, the reason for me coming to Connect evolved. Connect was now a time to meet face-to-face with my clients and potential clients.
There really is nothing like “face-to-face” time and Connect is the perfect place to do that. In fact, when I look back at the almost three years Katie Lance Consulting has been in business, so many of my five and six-figure clients have either started or were finalized in the lobby at Connect, in the halls of the event, or over a cocktail in the evening at the after-parties.
So, when I sat down to write my big take-aways from this event – they weren’t necessarily things from the main stage at Connect, or any one thing that a speaker said – they are more about the one-on-one conversations and the conversations in the halls and the common themes that kept resonating time and time again.
Here are my top take-aways in no particular order:
1. As much as we love technology, it doesn’t replace the face-to-face. This isn’t a new concept by any means, but it’s one that is always such a great reminder. When done right, technology and social media help to bridge the gap to more authentic in-person conversations. The irony of running a social media company, is that now I spend more ‘face time’ with people – more than ever before!
And being that my clients are all over North America – this ‘in real life’ time is more important than ever before. I look at social media and face-to-face time as a huge opportunity. By connecting with clients, customers and potential clients online – your face-to-face time is so much more of a richer experience. One compliments the other. In addition to this concept was something I said onstage and that is, ‘you can’t outsource relationships.’
I know many agents and brokers are looking for the social media silver bullet, but outsourcing every social media activity for an agent, is a very dangerous place to be. You can’t outsource connecting with people on social media. Just like if you had a dinner party with your ten most important clients, you wouldn’t have your assistant there without you – it’s the same thing on social media. Of course, you can hire consultants and employees to help you manage your strategy, your Facebook ads, etc – but you can’t outsource what it means to your clients when YOU reach out and say ‘happy birthday’ or when YOU reach out and comment on that photo of their kids. And yes, all of that matters because relationships are built with those small, meaningful interactions over the course of time!
2. Where is the softer side of real estate? As much as I love seeing strong and powerful people onstage talking about how they lead the charge – time and time again, in conversations with many great people in real estate – the conversation kept coming up to, ‘what about the softer side of real estate?’
What about talking about what it really feels like to be responsible for payroll, or the real fears many of us have about growing our business, or the pain points of paying taxes and managing our expenses? It really feels like there is an opportunity (for perhaps a future Connect) to talk about the stuff that scares us. The stuff that keeps us up at 2 in the morning. The stuff we normally don’t talk about onstage – let alone say out loud. I would imagine this type of real and honest discussion would be really valuable for a lot of people.
3. There’s no one magic bullet when it comes to digital marketing. I had the good fortune of being a part of the digital marketing workshop during the event. My topic was to talk about “organic traffic strategies.” It was awesome to talk for just 15 minutes about the value of telling your story, and really digging into your relationships via social media, blogging and video. It was an honor to be a part of the workshop because each speaker tackled a different part of digital marketing: organic, paid, branding, PR mobile, website, and more.
What I was reminded again as a marketer is that there is no magic solution – each one of these pieces are critical to a real estate agent or broker. Each piece is an important part of your strategy and you can start by doing what you know how to do and then think about hiring a consultant or someone to help you. There is no reason an agent needs to try to be a master at everything in marketing. I always say, focus on what you love and then hire the rest. Can’t afford it? Let that be the motivation for you to get one more client this month and close one more deal!
What about other take-aways? I reached out in the Inman Connect Facebook Group for more take-aways and here are some of the ones I wanted to share here as well!
Did you attend Inman Connect? I’d love to hear your top take-aways. Leave me a comment below or post it on my Facebook Page!