Going to conferences and meeting other Realtors is a great way to stay ahead of the industry learning curve, but not all events are created equally. Some will open your eyes to new marketing strategies and networking opportunities, and others will be a waste of time. It's common to see conferences billed as "The Real Estate Event of the Year," and necessarily some of these fall short.
So how do you ensure the next conference you go to is the event of the year? It's fairly straight forward, as long as you know what you want to learn, and who you want to meet.
Real estate conferences come in a wide variety of formats, from small weekly networking sessions to industry-wide events featuring a panel of the most successful brokers and marketing experts. Real Estate Connect, organized by Inman News once or twice per year, might be the industry's largest event. It takes place in major cities across the nation every eight months or so, and always covers a wide range of topics, such as search engine optimization, interactive marketing, and market forecasts. Real Estate Connect typically draws more than 1,200 industry professionals - it's so big that sub-conferences have been necessary in the past, so that attendees can network and share ideas exclusively on topics that interest them. The July 2007 edition of Real Estate Connect in San Francisco featured a sub-conference called Bloggers Connect, where the industry's top web-writers compared notes with each other and passed on skills to new bloggers for a couple days before the main event.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also lends its name to regular high-profile conferences for industry professionals around the world. In Fall, 2007, NAR sponsored events in Hong Kong, Paris, Florida, Greece, Singapore, Sao Paulo, and Guateng, South Africa on topics as diverse as international trade, human rights, and global home market trends. The NAR events help some of the nation's brightest minds stay in touch with economic conditions abroad, and help put the domestic real estate market in perspective.
While Real Estate Connect and NAR events can usually be counted on for useful content, depending on what interests you, other high-profile conferences might not be as strong. Communicating on real estate forums and looking at previous events held by a particular company is a good way to find out which conferences will work best for you.
For Realtors based in large cities, trial and error might work for attending conferences, but for anyone who has to travel to an event, a little research can go a long way. Thankfully, most conferences produce extensive discussion before and after the fact, so there is usually a lot of information readily available.