When I first heard about Inman Connect, I had no reference point for what those two words actually meant.

Inman? Connect? What?

And many of my professional colleagues from around the country were raving about how this conference had changed their businesses and their lives.

How could I resist?

I wanted to find out what kind of Kool-Aid was being served in San Francisco each August since it had such an impact on my peeps.

What it’s like at Inman Connect

The first year I attended Inman Connect was like drinking from a fire hose. I was determined to catch every part of the conference: I attended every session I could fit in, took pages of notes and ran myself ragged.

I certainly got some great ideas; however, I was exhausted and on mental overload from everything I needed to do to keep up with the world of technology and social media.

I’m not even sure how many new folks I remember meeting that year, but I do know I had piles of business cards that were probably thrown away several weeks later.

The second year of Connect, I ran into one of my friends, Jeff Turner, from the REBarCamp days. He shared with me his plan for the conference.

Inman Innovator Bash

The short version, from what I can remember, was: slow down. Connect with people who have great stuff to share. Enjoy the social events. Be open to surprising moments and experience Lobbycon.


What is Lobbycon? Imagine a conference within a conference held in the lobby of the conference hotel.

What I discovered was a lobby jam-packed with conference attendees, and even some who just showed up to sit in the lobby and have scheduled and impromptu meetings with some of the best minds in the industry.

Lobbycon became the place to jump into amazing conversations about the future of our industry, tech tools and great ideas that others were implementing in their real estate practice.


Everyone was welcome. What a simply brilliant side benefit of Inman Connect.

The purpose

The puzzle of Inman Connect was starting to take shape. It was about professionals willing to share their best practices. Professionals who were dreaming about how our industry could improve, and maybe even be disrupted.

It was about open dialogues with people who did not always agree with each other; however, they listened and gave honest feedback.

Tracy Sichterman of Berkeley Hills Realty, and Julie Ziemelis of Ziemelis Communications

It was about connecting in ways that I had not experienced in my professional career.

My entire focus was — and still is — connecting. For me, the questions became, “Who do I know that would be beneficial for others I know?” and “Who would benefit from knowing someone I know?”

The magic of Inman Connect

The best example of how this played out in real life is a situation that happened with Italina Kirknis. She was a local professional who helped Realtors expand their online presence. She was a local star who would benefit from a bigger stage.

I introduced her to publisher Brad Inman and COO Morgan Brown through email. They did their homework and decided that she would be a great addition to a panel at Inman Connect.

She was thrilled.

Italina and I stopped by the “dress rehearsal” the day before the start of the event last year. Brad was there coaching each of the presenters after they delivered their presentation.

During a break, Brad came over and met Italina for the first time in person. After a brief conversation he said, “Italina, we just had a cancellation on the main stage for the conference. Would you be up for taking that time slot and giving your presentation?”

Italina Kirknis

Her presentation at Inman Connect — on the main stage with thousands of people in the audience — exploded her business.

The rest is history.

This is just one small example of the magic that happens each day at Inman Connect if you pay attention.

Then and now

I have a much clearer understanding about what those two words — Inman Connect — mean today.

They mean having Billy Ekofo arrange for volunteers at the event to serve lunch for the homeless at Glide Memorial Church.

Inman Glide Memorial Service Project

They mean having a quiet moment with Tracy Sichterman and Julie Ziemelis remembering the impact Nate Ellis has had on our lives and our industry.

Nate Ellis

The experience of those two words has changed my life for the better. I am rejuvenated each time I attend Inman Connect.

What a gift for all who show up.

I can’t wait to connect with you in August.

Jim Walberg is a real estate agent with Pacific Union International.

Email Jim Walberg.

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