The commercial real estate industry’s foundation is personal connection, and a big part of the day is occupied in reaching out to clients, colleagues, and competitors. The right contacts make a critical difference in our ability to identify opportunities and get the job done. Meetings and conferences are a golden opportunity to improve our industry knowledge while expanding our network and exploring new possibilities. Here are some networking tips to help you make the most of your time.
1. ORGANIZE CONTACTS
Most event websites feature an attendee list, so you can begin to check on which of your contacts will be attending the meeting. It’s a great practice to consider the people with whom you’d really like to meet. Using that list is a great starting point for the next tip.
2. SET UP MEETINGS IN ADVANCE
The time at a conference flies by, and the whole thing will be history before you know it. You can nearly always schedule a chat over breakfast or a cup of coffee during the afternoon – if you reach out to people before their days fill up. Use your contact list first, and then branch out to people on the attendee list whose work you’re familiar with or who share your area of expertise. They’ll be glad to make the connection too, even if it’s just to trade business cards for future contact.
3. FILL THE TIME
Some of your most productive conversations may occur in the hallway, between sessions. Keep your eyes peeled for people you’d like to speak with, offer to make introductions, and be helpful – offer to share information you may have that’s relevant to the conversation.
4. SPEAK WITH THE SPEAKERS
Conference speakers expect to interact with the audience following a talk. You don’t need an introduction, no matter how renowned the speaker may be. Ask questions and join the post-session huddle. It can lead to bonus information and help you connect with other interested parties.
5. FOLLOW UP RIGHT AWAY
When you get back to the office, you’ll often find you’re inundated with work to catch up on, and the conference will be a dim memory in a matter of days. While it’s fresh in your mind (like on the flight home), add new contacts to your email account. It’s a good idea to jot a short note on the back of each card as you collect them, to help you recall what made you interested in that person. Follow up with speakers and other people you met, restating your interest in their ideas, providing supplemental information, leads, or contacts, and expressing your hope that they keep in touch.
With these tips, you’ll really be making the most of the time you set aside for conference attendance, and you’ll find that it pays off. Try them out while you’re at the CBC Global Conference: identify folks you can meet on the Business Development Team, network with top performers, and reconnect with the brand by talking to new affiliates and connecting with the CBC executive team.