Aside from EAC Insight 2017, there is an array of industry get-togethers that real estate agents will find themselves attending on a regular basis. Be it a franchise awards night, a function with media bodies like REB and Elite Agent, or other associated groups, unless you’re a ‘seasoned event gun’ you may be able to sharpen your presence — and career — with these helpful suggestions:
Dress for success
When preparing for your event, make sure you understand the general dress code. Formal business means a suit, a tie and dark socks for men as well as closed-toed shoes and stockings for women.
Business casual provides more room to breathe. Men may wear suits, but a sports coat is also appropriate. Women can wear pantsuits or coordinating slacks, tops, and jackets. Although wearing peep-toe shoes or sandals can be suitable — if unsure, play safe with pumps or flats.
When should you arrive?
Simple: be on time. If you are a representative of the host, the answer is you should arrive up to 30 minutes early. That way you can help mitigate the usual last-minute fires that always flare up.
If you are a guest, many invitations will advise when to arrive, typically providing a window of 15 to 30 minutes for registration and welcome reception times.
Make your introductions work
When meeting someone new, introduce yourself by making eye contact, smiling, stating your first and last name, and giving a firm but brief handshake to both males and females. Make sure you listen for the other person’s name, then try and use it two times while you’re speaking. Not only will this help in remembering their name, you will also appear sincere and interested in them.
How should you introduce people?
At some point you’ll find yourself introducing various individuals at an event. But what’s the order of introductions, you ponder? Simply remember two rules:
(1) Introduce lower ranking individuals to higher ranking individuals, and
(2) Remember to include titles (e.g., Dr., Judge, etc.) and name prefix (e.g., Mr., Mrs. Ms.).
Try to be genuine about being genuine
Like a scout, be prepared. Have a few good questions ready, such as asking the other person about their background and recent work activity. The best questions are ones that can’t be answered by just “yes” or “no”. And obviously be delicate about what you ask… especially what they are currently working on. As some people may be competitive agents working your patch, it might work best if you keep the conversation in non-specific terms.
What shouldn’t you talk about at a real estate industry event?
Just as it’s important to understand what to talk about, there are several topics that should be avoided. Make sure your radar is on and picking up any awkward subjects that may arise. A clever agent always has a ‘get out of trouble’ conversation changer… great for appraisals as well as events.
- Personal finance topics
- Personal health topics (yours and others)
- Divisive topics
- Gossip — otherwise the industry gossip will be that you’re a gossip!
Reputation and Behaviour
Guard your reputation at all times. Speak positively and remain loyal to your company. You never know who could be listening. If alcohol is served at the conference, know your limits. If you overindulge, you may say something you’ll later regret. If in doubt, choose soft drinks or juice instead of alcohol.
Tips while listening to the speaker
Don’t be the one in the audience that reveals their inner 4-year-old character, the hope is that you’ll actually learn something:
- Keep your attention focussed on the speaker
- Don’t fidget or squirm
- Ask questions relevant to the topic
- Never interrupt the speaker or anyone asking a question
- When you get up, push your chair in.
- Take all papers and personal belongings, and
- Thank the speaker, but don’t monopolise their time.
Remember to put your cell phone on silent during all events. If your phone rings amongst scores of other agents, especially when the speaker has everyone captured in silence, you’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons. If you have electronics equipment with you, turn down the sound on your tablet or laptop to make all the usual beeping noises silent.
Your business Card
These are essential at business conferences. Make sure you have them on you at all times as you never know when you’ll meet someone you’d like to communicate with later. When you accept someone else’s business card, have a pre-planned place it in your pocket, handbag, or cardholder to deposit it. You may jot down some notes on the back of the card to jog your memory later — perhaps a brief description of what you thought of them and how they looked.
Get to the point of your conversation
When in a group and it’s your turn to share, state it in just 2-3 sentences. You can delve into greater detail later on, but people will lose interest very quickly if you can’t cut to the chase. If you have a speciality in real estate, say social media, and you’re sharing your experience, make sure you explain any jargon words you use. The key to effectively networking is to build rapport, so if someone can’t understand what you’re talking about, a connection won’t happen.
Taking notes will take you further in your career
If you find it tricky to remember the important, if not nitty gritty, details of every conversation, it can be helpful to also write these down. After mingling with a few people, find a corner of the room to subtly make notes. Aside from backs of business cards, have a small pad or paper ready for more detailed info — such as general comments on the event/you/other people, insights you can go thru after the meet. One of the great reasons to attend any real estate event is to connect with people in the future, and this will make following up with them so much easier.
Fun is nice, but not your primary objective
Whether the event includes drinks or offers the opportunity to access them later, never make the mistake of thinking that it’s your opportunity to ‘let loose’ and ‘blow off some steam.’ Enjoy yourself, but don’t treat it like a get-together with your buddies. It’s Murphy’s Law that supervisors, bosses, and clients will be observing your behaviour at just the wrong time.
The value of following up
Allow a few days after the event to send follow-up emails to anyone you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to personalise each email, letting each person know you enjoyed meeting them and mention something specific that you chatted about. Warning tip: one of the quickest ways to destroy a connection is to send a generic LinkedIn invite.
Once it’s all set and done… learn. Find a quiet place and have a good think about how you went. What was good and bad about the event, and how you performed with your learning, networking, and growth in the industry? From this analysis, you’ll be in better shape to progress your industry knowledge, and your career, through other real estate events.