This week thousands of REALTORS® will descend into Chicago for NAR’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo. This event offers countless opportunities for you to improve your business, grow as a volunteer in the association and build your network of referral partners.
With so much happening over the course of the week, you could easily just “wing it” and see what happens. However, you will get more out of your time in Chicago if you make a plan and set goals for what you want to bring back to your business.
If it is your first conference, or if you have never set a conference plan before, here are a few ideas:
• Download the NAR Annual app now. The conference app has all of the classes, committee meetings, general session information and events listed, along with the locations. You can create your own schedule with events that interest you.
• Think of a part of your business you want to grow, and attend a class that deals with that topic. The list of classes features an all-star lineup of instructors, covering all aspects of the business. Go through the list of classes on the app or the conference website, and find some that interest you. Most of the classes you can just show up at the start, but there are a few that require pre-registration.
In the past, I’ve attended a number of the CRS courses – those are always phenomenal, but this year I am taking the NAR Smart Growth pre-conference course. We are hoping to bring it to our local association in the next few years, so I am looking forward to getting a preview so I can better “sell” it within our community.
• Bring back something of value to your local association by attending a committee meeting. There are dozens of committee meetings, and the majority of them are open to attend, even if you are not on the committee. Don’t know where to start? The list of committees is on the app and online. Whether your interest is in raising funds for RPAC, participating in public policy conversations, raising the bar in the industry through professional standards, or learning what’s going on in the MLS world, there is something for you.
I serve on the REALTOR® Party State and Local Issues Mobilization Committee. We review grant requests from state and local associations, and award funds to support things like first-time homebuyer savings accounts and economic revitalization efforts, or we fight against rent control or onerous new land use restrictions. I love this committee because it is where the rubber meets the road: writing that RPAC check after seeing the impact that cumulative effect of those funds has for our industry has never been easier.
• Have a conversation with five REALTORS® from outside your area and swap business cards. Notice there are two parts to that goal: first, have a conversation. Whether you are referring someone in your sphere out, or receiving an incoming referral, the odds of success will be much greater if you know a little bit about the REALTOR® on the other side of the referral. Make sure that you bring plenty of business cards and carry them with you all the time. After the conference, follow up with the people you met. Just one incoming referral over the next 12 months would more than cover the cost of the conference.
• Plan something fun for you! Chicago is an incredible city – I have only been a couple times, so I’m far from an expert, but the last time I was there, my wife and I packed a ton of stuff into three days. The architectural river cruise is incredible. It can get a little chilly, even in the summer, so dress warm for that. Definitely grab some deep-dish pizza and a hot dog from Portillo’s!
You are taking time away from your family and business to attend the conference, so make it worth the sacrifice. Be deliberate in your actions, make a plan, then stick with it! If you do, you’ll find this is the best conference you could ever attend.