If you’ve been a regular at Connect over the years, you’re sure to have seen Bill Lublin. CEO of Pennsylvania’s largest Century 21 firm, Bill has been a speaker, moderator, attendee, and all-round facilitator of great discussions at Connect for many years. We recently got the opportunity to pick Bill’s brains on what makes the event a success for him, where he finds the most value in the sessions, and what advice he’d give to a first-time attendee.
You’ve been coming to Inman Connect New York for several years now. What do you remember about your first experience, and what advice would you give a first-time attendee?
Like everyone in the real estate industry, I always seem to have a lot on my schedule. Running a large multi-office real estate company, we have regular meetings with our management team, charitable events we run, company-wide meetings, management retreats and training events. I also attend a number of national real estate industry events every year — because of my participation in NAR, my state association, and my MLS, and engagements as an international trainer and instructor, I have a lot of commitments on my annual calendar before even I start to look at “optional” events, like my franchise’s international meeting and leadership events. For a number of years, Inman Connect just didn’t make the cut, even though the idea of a tech-centric event intrigued me.
In 2008, the first ReBarCamp was scheduled for San Francisco, the day before Inman Connect, and it provided me with an opportunity to meet people face to face that I had created meaningful relationships with online. It was the first gathering of my tribe, and since Inman was right after, I decided that I might as well. The experience was more than I thought it would be.
The content at Connect was relevant and informed because many of the people in our industry that were early adopters of social media and content creation were presenters and speakers, but that wasn’t the real surprise for me since they were, in no small degree, the same people I had just spent time with at REBarCamp.
What did surprise me was the way the event spilled out of the presentations and into the hallways and restaurants and bars in the area. Here was a place where conversations started on stage and continued beyond the performances, creating relationships and having an impact that lasted after the event ended. Every Connect I’ve attended since (and that’s almost all of them in both New York and San Francisco) has followed that pattern where conversation and relationships have grown beyond the usual onstage presentations.
Connect is very well known for its ability to create long-lasting, meaningful networking opportunities. What would your advice be to those looking to grow their business through new connections in January?
Don’t be afraid to approach anyone at the event. Though many of the people attending are industry leaders, they are some of the most genuine and interesting people you’ll meet. Go to as many sessions as possible, be sure to visit Startup Alley and the vendors throughout the event, and engage in conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions — some of my closest relationships started that way.
How do you pick which sessions to attend, and why?
Because there are different tracks at each Connect, I usually see who is talking about what and make my decisions on the spur of the moment. I like to see what people suggest agents do (whether I agree with them or not) and tech sessions are always high on my list. Mainstage speakers are often people outside the industry, and they are a great reality check for all of us, since they bring new perspectives to the event. Some of those keynote speakers are people you would never see on another industry stage, and that’s too good an opportunity to miss.
What’s the single biggest thing not to miss at every Connect?
Engage in all parts of the event. Don’t just chase from session to session and then call your office every time you’re free – be part of the social aspect of Connect. The things you’ll learn from your peers are invaluable, and the relationships you create will do wonders for your life and your business. Ask someone you’ve just met what they’re enjoying and what they recommend. You might be surprised at their answer and find something new and useful for your business.
For those still on the fence about attending, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give them?
Get off the fence — that gives you nothing but splinters. Take some time away from working in your business and come to connect to learn more about working on your business. This is a place where lots of worlds come together, NAR staff members and officers, International Franchises, Regional RE Companies, technology giants, startups and boutique RE operators come together and talk about the industry that we all share , from a variety of perspectives. It is a magnificent mixture of companies and individuals in a setting where everyone is open for conversation — and you won’t get that at home in January — so come out and join us for a tremendous experience.