By Kelly Reark
We were all standing around complaining about our feet hurting in the shoes we chose, wondering if it was our third or fifth cup of Starbucks that day, when the idea hit me that maybe I should put together a quick list of dos and don’ts for anyone attending one of our marathon REALTOR® conferences throughout the year. I have been to a half dozen of these events, and I should know better. With the REALTORS® Midyear Meetings & Trade Expo quickly approaching, here are my survival tips:
1. Wear comfortable shoes (or go ahead and show off those cute pumps but bring a big purse with a pair of flats just in case). Guys, just make sure you have on socks. Invest $3 for a stick of Band-Aid’s blister block. Shoes you’ve not walked in for awhile will do you wrong at a conference.
2. Take it outside. Now, I know this should be rudimentary, like arriving on time or not interrupting the speaker, but make sure you switch your phone to silent mode. If a call comes in, and you must answer it, go out of the room. Business is definitely important, so don’t gab in the middle of a room full of people. I sat in more than one class during the mid-winter event thinking, “are you kidding me?“ Oh, and the “looking around acting like it’s not you” thing while your phone plays your entire ring tone really doesn’t work.
3. Bring an extra cell phone battery. Twelve hours of checking voicemails and texting between events will leave you powerless.
4. Dress in layers. Even in sunny Florida, dressing in layers is critical. A few minutes in the sun will have you sweating, but the event center might have cranked the AC in anticipation of all of us hot-heads. It’s good to be versatile on the fly.
5. No time for a workout this trip? Says who? Don’t offer to hang on to someones stuff unless you really want to work your arms, back, and patience for the day. Even 5 pounds feels like 50 after you have lugged it all over an event.
6. Remember to eat. Pack granola bars, crackers, dried fruit, gummy bears, or anything else that is handy and fairly mess-free (doesn’t melt) to munch on. Planners sometimes forget to build in lunch breaks into the schedule. Mints are a good idea too.
7. Pace yourself. It is impossible to do everything an event offers. Pick your priorities and don’t stress about it.
8. Take advantage of learning opportunities. Bring a slim notebook and a couple of pens for jotting down the key notes. Make sure you go over them while the information is fresh so that you can make any additional notes or explanations to yourself.
9. Don’t get shy on me now. Walk up and introduce yourself to a half dozen complete strangers at the next event you go to. Sit with people you don’t know on purpose. They are usually agents too, so it’s good for networking, and the ability to converse with a stranger is good practice for prospecting in “the real world.”
10. Bring plenty of business cards. Hand them out to everyone you meet, and give them a reason to keep them in their pocket. This means knowing what you are about and being able to give your ten second unique selling proposition. (Google it. It’s on Wikipedia. It’s important.)
I hope to see you at the next event!