This past January, real estate industry professionals from around the world converged on the Marriott Marquis for Inman Connect New York 2015.
It took many weathered travel challenges to make the trip, including my friend and fellow Inman Ambassador, Dane Briggs, whose tale of woe involved planes and a $600 cab ride from Hartford, Connecticut, to New York City (after his flight was canceled). But racing against the clock won him a lifetime pass to future Connect events.
Although the “Snowpacolypse” never quite materialized, Connect went off relatively without a hitch.
Over 3 1/2 days, more than 200 speakers shared insights on topics including utilizing 3-D technology in your business, building global referral networks and the future of multiple listing services (MLSs).
However, during a week full of takeaways, it was a quote from Trulia founder Pete Flint that resonated with me the most. And it’s that message that I think the industry needs to hear repeated.
When asked about working with formal rival Zillow, Flint replied, “We are different teams on the same field … but at end of day, we all love the game. We love what we do.”
That quote hit me like a ton of bricks, and in my opinion, it captures the spirit of the entire week.
During the final day’s breakout sessions, I sat at a table and listened as an executive from of one of the world’s largest real estate brands elected to answer an agent’s questions on doing more business globally by pumping up their brand — and demonizing mine.
No names were mentioned, but it was quite obvious what was happening. My issue: There were no takeaways or strategies offered that the agent could put into use that day, which was the purpose of the session.
The executive’s decision to answer a question with a sale pitch was disappointing and a reminder to me that you never know who might be listening — conduct yourself accordingly.
Perhaps I was a bit more sensitive because I had just completed a week as one of 21 Inman Ambassadors who, despite geographical and brand differences, were a family by the week’s end.
Over meals and cocktails, there were fantastic discussions about our shared passion of real estate as we all learned from each other. We are all proud Ambassadors of not only Inman but of our companies, both at the brokerage level and brand.
There’s nothing wrong with brand pride, but I learned a long time ago that you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.
To me, the spirit of Connect is not about the name on your signs — it’s about the name on your driver’s license. It was about networking with an incredible group of practitioners who made a decision to invest in themselves and in their business to attend.
Want referrals? Contacts from all over the world are at Connect, and you can build relationships with them. As luxury agent Bradley Nelson said in a panel, a great way to find global buyers and referrals is just to get on a plane.
By attending Connect, the world comes to you.
Don’t throw the business cards exchanged at conferences into a desk drawer. Turn those business cards into relationships that will grow and benefit both parties by asking yourself what you can do to help those professionals do more business. Then do it.
I’m hopeful that anyone who attends Inman Connect in San Francisco this August will return to his or her home more knowledgeable and inspired than before. Above that, I hope that they return with a desire to lift people up instead of breaking them down.
As Imran Poladi shared in his “Agent Reboot” presentation in New York, out of more than 1 million words in the English language, 39 percent have negative connotations and only 17 percent are positive, which means the odds of positivity are not in our favor.
However, you can lead by example and demand a higher standard of professionalism.
It starts with us. If we in the Connect community do this and we’re lucky, it might just be infectious.
Bret Calltharp serves as Manager of Business Development for RE/MAX Crest Realty and the Metro Vancouver Properties group. He welcomes anyone (no matter what name is on your signs) to connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.