As someone who has worked in the real estate industry for more than a decade and a half, I get this question a lot: What conferences should I go to next year?
I have attended hundreds of events over the years, and I always go with a few intentions: meet new people, find new speakers and be inspired to take action on a few new ideas.
Every event has its own vibe. Some feel like one big party. Others are more serious and hands-on. But Inman Connect New York (ICNY) has always evoked an intimate feel that is distinctly its own.
Two years ago, as I was packing to attend ICNY, the weather reports were forecasting a whopper of a snowstorm. Flights were pre-emptively cancelled, schools were closed, and as I arrived in New York, traffic was halted by a city-wide drive ban.
And yet, throughout the next few days, real estate professionals from around the world descended on the Big Apple. They came by car, plane, train and even taxi from two states away. (That one is a long story.)
I remember standing in the middle of Times Square the night of “Snowmageddon,” surrounded by friends and strangers from all over the world, and looking up at the sky as the giant snowflakes fell. Without cars on the roads, New York City was a magical, quiet, brilliant wonderland.
The remaining days of the conference seemed to reflect that same magic. Small groups gathered in the lobby bar and the halls — laughing at the snowstorm-that-nearly-was and sharing stories about business and life.
The sessions were a tiny bit smaller that year, but the live-stream feed was full, and social media was buzzing with snowy photos and crazy traveler stories.
But the content was the most magical of all.
Folks filled in last-minute for those whose flights were delayed. Topics were adjusted, and the agenda was revised. The ICNY community rallied together to make it one of the most collaborative events I have ever experienced.
So, what conferences should you go to next year?
Whenever I hear that question, I usually pause and consider the person asking me. Everyone is different. Everyone wants something different in a conference.
And yet, no matter what, my answer usually starts the same way.
“Well, my favorite is Inman Connect New York.”
As a Canadian, I am usually asked, “But isn’t it all Americans?”
And I smile. I remember that snowy night in Times Square. The feeling of camaraderie, the small groups in the halls and the kindness of strangers.
And I reply, “I promise, you will fit right in.”
I’m looking forward to seeing you all (Canucks, Yankees and global friends alike) in Times Square again this January! Be sure to come find me and say hello, eh?
Valerie Garcia is a corporate trainer and international speaker specializing in real estate.