Last week at attended a real estate conference in Columbus Ohio that was focused on how to wholesale houses. I love attending conferences because they are an awesome break from the daily grind, I learn a lot and I meet a lot of great people. For those of you that know my or follow the blog you know I do not focus on wholesaling. I have only wholesaled one property in my career and I do not plan on making wholesaling a big part of my business. So why would I attend a conference on wholesaling when I don’t plan on making it a part of my business?
For starters I mentioned the conference was “focused” on wholesaling, but there were many other aspects discussed. Even though I don’t do much in the way of wholesaling the entire premise of wholesaling is about finding great deals. Much of my business is about finding great deals and if I can improve the way I do things it will make me more money. The conference was also put on by a company that sells turn-key rental properties and I am going to buy a turn-key rental with my IRA this summer. Columbus is one of the main markets where this company sells turn-key rentals and I wanted to see the area.
Why is attending conferences in person important to improving your business?
There is a ton of information online and most of it can be accessed pretty easily if you know where to look. I try to provide as much information as I can and almost all of it is free. I find a lot of information online that has helped my business tremendously, but meeting people in person and attending conferences always gives my business a huge boost.
- There are fewer distractions at a conference: When you attend a conference you usually have to travel and there is less to distract you than at work or home.
- You are forced to delegate tasks: When you leave on vacation or for a work conference you have to learn to delegate. If you work for someone else they will delegate for you, if you work for yourself you have to delegate. Delegation is a good thing, because running a business it not about doing all the work yourself, that is a job.
- Better connections are made in person: You can email people or talk to them on the phone, but you make a better connection with people when you meet them in person. You meet people at dinner and the hotel bar after a conference, it is not all about meeting people in the conference itself.
- You are forced to learn a lot of information in a short period of time: It is much better to learn as much as you can about something as quickly as you can. If you start researching real estate online and spend a couple of hours every month reading articles you will learn. You will also forget most of what you learn when you aren’t immersed in a subject. If you are spending hours every day learning about one subject it will stick in your brain better than learning over a long period of time.
- Getting away from your business is good: We all get stuck in day-to-day tasks at our jobs or business. It is tough to take the time to think about the big picture and what is really important to us. When you get away from the office or in a different environment it gives your brain a chance to think about different things and come up with new ideas. Whenever I go on vacation or to a conference I come up with new ideas because I am thinking big picture and not daily tasks.
How do you get the most out of a business conference?
I have been to some bad conferences. I have had to sit through horrible material with almost no people in attendance. However I still got something out of that conference and it was worthwhile for many reasons. You have to have a great attitude before you go to the conference and expect to learn a ton. If you expect the conference will be a horrible failure and you won’t learn anything, you probably won’t learn anything. Even conferences that are giant sales funnels and teach you nothing can be beneficial. Here are some tips to get the most out of a conference.
- Talk to everyone: I don’t care if you are shy, get over it. I was shy in school and when I was younger and getting over it was one of the best things I did professionally and personally. Most people are conferences and not comfortable, because they are in a different environment. The more people you talk to the more friends you will make and the more comfortable you will get. If someone doesn’t like you, who cares as you will probably never see them again.
- Talk to different people: If you make some friends at a conference try not to hang out with them all the time. It’s fine to mingle with them and spend time with them, but sit with different people at lunch, sit in different spots at the conference. Meet as many new people as you can.
- Show up to the sessions: Many people pay for a conference look at the agenda and then decide they don’t need to go to half of the sessions. Go to everything you can, because you never know what you will learn. Some of my best ideas come from subjects that I already know a lot about or have no interest in. If you don’t show up, you have no chance of learning.
- Bring plenty of business cards: I usually hand out at least 50 business cards when I go to a conference. you never know who you will meet at a conference who can help you. If you get business cards write a not on the back about who the person is and how you met them. If you are doing a good job at the conference you will meet a lot of people and forget names easily.
- Take Notes: When you go to the sessions, take a lot of notes. It is really easy to forget things and no matter how much you think you will remember something you won’t. Write down everything that is interesting to you.
- Don’t be that guy: I mentioned going to the bar to meet people and network. At our conference there was a party and open bar on the last night. There were many people who went crazy and made a fool of themselves. I see no problem with having a good time, but don’t get to the point where you are slurring your words and can’t walk straight among people who may want to do business with you.
What do you do after the conference?
Going to the conference is just part of the conference experience. You have work to do when you get home as well. Many people go to a conference, take pages of notes, get back home and then forget about it all. They are too tired or busy with work to look at the notes, they forget about them and nothing happens. One of the first thing you should do when you get home is review your notes and the people you met. Prioritize the things and people who can make the biggest difference in your life and create tasks for yourself. It can be writing thank you cards, follow-up with emails or calls, researching new ideas, etc. You have to make a list and you have to review everything right away or you won’t do it.
What did I gain from the conference I went to?
Here is a short list of things I learned or gained from my conference.
- At least five new contacts: These are really good contacts that can make me more money, not just people a talked to.
- Solidified connections with people I already knew: If you go to the same type of conference over and over you will see the same people and make friends. When people see you at events over and over they know you are serious about the business. This is extremely important for REO agents.
- Learned new techniques for buying off-market properties: I have bought one house off-market and listed a few others from direct marketing I do. I know my systems are not as good as they could be and the more I learn the better my systems will be. Even though I do not wholesale properties I can use many techniques that wholesalers use.
- Visited an area where I will buy: I am going to buy a turn-key rental property for a couple of reasons. I have money in my IRA that I hate investing in the stock market. I want to experience what it is like owning a property that is turn-key; managed, rented and repaired. Columbus is most likely where I would buy a turn-key, because that is the main market that the turn-key company I trust the most operates in. The company actually gave a way a house while I was there and I got to see the neighborhoods the houses are in.
- Was forced to let my business run by itself: I have worked very hard on my real estate team, rentals, flips and the blog. I did almost no work while I was at the conference. I only called my wife and kids and things went extremely smooth. Most of my business can run very well by itself. The blog takes a lot of personal work since I write everything myself, but it is a lot of fun for me too and not the end of the world if I take a few days or a week off.
- Met some famous people: Maurice Clarett was at the conference and spoke about his struggles as a football player and then going to prison. It was an amazing story how he was able to turn his life around.
Business conferences can make a huge impact on your success. It is not just about what you learn, but about who you meet. If you hide in your hotel room the entire conference, except for the sessions you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Remember getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing that will make you a better person and more money.