The annual National Association of REALTOR® Conference & Expo can be a tad bit overwhelming, even to a seasoned attendee. Before you hit the hallways ill prepared, take a few moments to scope out the educational offerings and committee meeting schedules to pinpoint few MUST attend sessions each day.
Think like a Boy Scout and Be Prepared!
When considering your daily selections make sure they align with your current or future interests, and more importantly choose sessions that will allow you to absorb the most intel to cart back to your homeland. This plan of attack will ensure you to reap the biggest rewards by giving yourself the greatest possibility of immediately implement your new knowledge base into your daily business routine. Oh and don’t forget that 90% of all committee meetings are open to attend as an observer, even for those without an active seat on the committee. This is where you will gain an understanding of what exactly happens under the National Association of REALTORS® hood. If you do elect to attend, please be respectful of the committee time so they may tackle their agenda items within their allotment of time asking questions during appropriate times earmarked for non-committee member input.
With this said, below are recommendations from a few REALTOR® and non-REALTOR® compadres who happen to be loyal annual conference attendees. These folks are also people I recommend following or connecting with long after the conference is over as they each have offered something of value to my personal life or contributed to my business growth. In order of the conference schedule, here is the list MUST attend sessions or meetings.
Leigh Brown, REALTOR® with RE/MAX Executive Realty in Charlotte, NC and best selling author of Outrageous Authenticity, surely knows a thing or two about where one should plop themselves in order to net the biggest bang for their buck at an event. So when she says “Attend NAR 360 for the inside scoop on what’s going on, the big stories, the economic update, all of the big picture things that will tell you what stuff to drill down into”, you should arrive early to claim a seat. That is unless you want Leigh to shake her famous finger at you when she bumps into you gracing the convention center halls and discovers you missed this 30,000 foot view session.
What: NAR 360
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Valencia Ballroom
When: Thursday, November 3rd – 4:00pm to 5:00pm.
I reached out to Rhonda Woods, REALTOR® with William Raveis Real Estate in New Milford CT, to discover what topic she is most interested in absorbing as I know she equally is sucker for tons of rich data. Rhonda quipped back, “I love stats, so I’ll definitely be attending the Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum.”
What: Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Chapin Theater – W320
When: Friday, November 4rd – 8:30am to 10:30pm.
I knew when I was reaching out to those closest to me across the U.S., I needed to quiz Erica Ramus, broker/owner of the Ramus Realty Group. She has a knack for education and was even part of the first graduating class of the National Association of REALTORS® Masters Program. Go Erica!!! I watch Erica closely as I know she is an observer more than a talker. So when she replied, “I never miss the Idea Exchange Council for Brokers session. It is an open session for anyone to attend and normally has a panel of brokers from around the country discussing hot topics in brokerage management. I always walk away full of ideas and excited to implement what I have learned in the group.” I am personally happy to hear this session delivers rich content to its intended audience as I am a current sitting committee member of this committee.
What: Idea Exchange Council for Brokers
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Room W308 A
When: Friday, November 4rd – 11:00am to 12:30pm.
Dale Chumbley, REALTOR® with Real Living in Vancouver WA, had a really hard time identifying only one MUST see or attend session or meeting at the conference partially because he claims: “There is so much goodness that exists, but the expo floor is a great way to meet with so many vendors that provide a huge variety of products and services that could help your business.” Dale goes on further to explain: “Make sure you spend adequate time learning what they do and how they can help.” I personally graze the halls during my off time so I couldn’t agree more with this suggestion.
What: Trade Expo
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Hall B4-D1
When: Friday 3:00am to 6:00pm, Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm, Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm, Monday 9:00am to 1:00pm.
I refer to Mabél Guzmán, REALTOR® with @Properties in Chicago, the Queen of Orchestrating Advocacy and Implementing Policy. If you have ever graced Washington D.C. in May for the Legislative Meetings, you’ll quickly discover she is passionate about looking out for REALTOR® and homeowners rights nationally as well as locally. Those that connect with her on a social level or know her personally have seen her conquering policy challenges in her hometown of Chicago and volunteering with various charities spanning the Chicago area even those that do not pertain to real estate. When I asked Mabél what her #1 session for this years conference she was quick to respond with “Rise bright and early Friday morning to attend the Federal Issues Update. There you get the perspective about policy that impacts are livelihood from 60,000 feet vantage point and also get to see a weeds angle view too.” But Guzmán but quickly uttered, “PS: It is a 7:00am and yeah geeks get up extra early for this session.” I challenge you to take Mabél advice and absorb some of this yummy information with a few geeks.
What: Federal Issues Update
Where: Hyatt Regency Orlando Hotel, Windermere Ballroom Y
When: Friday, November 4th – 7:30am to 8:30am.
Chris Drayer, the Co-Founder of Revaluate, is not a real estate professional but he happens to be a seasoned veteran in the real estate space. He and his cohorts at Revaluate have concocted one of the slickest platforms for agents and consumers to analyze data easily. When I reached out to see what sessions he thought would be the most beneficial for attendees, Chris said: “There is still no golden bullet, but fortunes will be made by knowing who is going to move in the next year. Using your exiting systems and contacts combined with big data and algorithms, it is now possible to identify who is most likely to move in the next three to six months. This helps you target the correct message to the right prospect. All of these marketing systems and tools are good individually, but hey need to be more integrated and more simple, then they will make the job more efficient. I am looking forward to Fundamentals of Big Data, Analytics and Data Mining and and hoping to see big steps forward in this regard and perhaps, even a little gold.”
What: Fundamentals of Big Data, Analytics and Data Mining
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Room W314 B
When: Friday, November 4th – 8:30am to 9:30am.
If you have traveled recently whether it be locally or abroad, you may have secured a short term rental rather than landed in a traditional hotel. Or if you live in a city that annually hosts major events attracting swarms of people, you may have had the urge to rent your property out as a short term rental on the various short term rental sites. When I chatted with Brian Copeland, Broker and Chief Engagement Officer at Village Real Estate in Nashville, TN and President-Elect of the Tennessee Association of RELATORS®, about what was his #1 session to attend this year, he quickly replied with “Unlocking the Mystery of the Home Sharing Economy session.” I concur as I live in one of THOSE cities and SXSW, ACL and Formula One attracts thousands of visitors that exceed traditional short term housing options (hotels), therefore creating a buzz for a short term rental solution. If you do too or have had clients ask you questions about short term rentals, then take Brian’s advice and plant your two cheeks in a seat for this session. If you happen to be on the Governmental Affairs committee at your state or local levels and the city you live and sell real estate in has reservations with short term rentals, perhaps this would be a good session for you to arm yourself with ammunition to combat the local rules that frown upon this sort of activity.
What: Unlocking the Mystery of the Home Sharing Economy
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Room W312 A
When: Friday, November 4th – 2:00pm to 3:00pm.
When I decided to concoct this post, I could not ask my cohorts to reign in on their MUST attend session without delivering my #1 session as well. 2016 was my growth year as it was the year I endured and conquered several business and personal challenges, so I elected to methodically approach this years agenda focusing on sessions that would aid in ensuring I walked away with much needed clarity. In addition, the information tossed my way would also need deliver growth benefits to me both personally and professionally. After scouring through the countless education session offerings and committee meetings to build my schedule, I instantly honed in on a session that I believe is important not just for business, but for my personal well being. Sadly, we live in a society of extreme noise, chaos and clutter. So when you are already mentally and physically drained from your surroundings and life throws you a series of major curve balls that additional noise limits your potential. So when I saw the session titled, A Quiet Revolution: Changing How We Work, Lead and Innovate, I had to dig deeper and instantly knew if I only attended one session for the entire conference, it would be this one.
What: A Quiet Revolution: Changing How We Work, Lead and Innovate
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Valencia Room W415 D
When: Saturday, November 5th – 11:00am to 12:15pm.
Amy Smythe Harris, Co-Broker/Owner of Urban Provision, REALTORS® is all around tech geek who wields technology every moment of the day perhaps even when she is sleeping. This tells me she honed the adequate chops to dish insights on how important technology is to ensure your business runs efficiently, but she also knows how quick technology can ruin a business in a flash. Smythe Harris says, “REALTORS® often focus on how social media and technology can help their grow their business, but they often forget to educate themselves on how it can hinder business in a second. With the most recent disruption (malware attacking many home devices and blacking out many major websites), this is a relevant topic for any human being that and would be great information to share with your clients once back in your hometown on how they can protect themselves from future attacks.”
What: How Technology Can Ruin Your Business
Where: Orange County Convention Center West, Valencia Room W415 BC
When: Friday, November 6th – 1:30pm to 3:00pm.
Quincy Clayton, Realtor with RE/MAX On the Bay in Niantic CT, suggests for those sticking around in Orlando through Monday to attend the Board of Directions meeting. Quincy says, “The Board of Directors meeting is totally the baseline and foundation of what we practice in our small towns. It is such an awe inspiring meeting for a first timer as well as veteran. Many repeat attendees still leave before board meeting as they do not realize it is for them too! I missed it the first two times I attended NAR Annual, but followed the social posts on my way home and realized I was missing something pretty special, something larger than me and I needed to be there.”
What: Board of Directors Meeting
Where: Hyatt Regency Orlando Hotel, Regency Ballroom O-S
When: Friday, November 4th – 7:30am to 8:30am
If you too have a few MUST attend session suggestions, please enter them in the comments sections so others can follow your lead as I realize there are so many other important sessions of the conference. But more importantly, if you agree this is a snazzy list of sessions, please bookmark it and use it as a guide of where to trek next or even share it with others so they too can benefit from the information.