The holiday season is already here, which means Inman Connect New York (January 22-26, 2018, Marriott Marquis Hotel, Times Square) will be upon us before we know it. We recently caught up with long-time Connect attendee Jeff Turner to understand what keeps him coming back to the New York City cold every January, why attending the sessions is just a starting point for him and how he spends his time during the week to foster hundreds of meaningful connections each year.
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?
My first time attending Connect New York was in 2008, so this will be my 10th. That first year was a bit of a whirlwind experience, but what I remember about that first one is what I end up remembering about all of them: it’s about the people and the connections. Period.
My approach that year is the same approach I’ve used every year. I’ve always taken the conference name literally. I’m there to connect.
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?
Some of my best friends in life, not just in the real estate industry, are people who I was able to forge deep bonds with, in part, because of our being able to gather at Inman Connect New York.
There is something very unique about the Connect New York experience. Perhaps it’s because you have to really want to go to a conference in New York City in late January. It certainly wouldn’t be my first pick for a place to be during the coldest part of the winter.
Experience has taught me that the conversations I’ll have there will be worth the cold.
My advice to people looking to grow their business is this: truly focus on the concept of connecting, on forming truly meaningful relationships. I’ve seen way too many people on the vendor side of the equation try to make Connect entirely about selling. It’s a turn off.
Ultimately, we’re all in business to make money — that’s a given. The power of Connect, however, lies in the opportunity to build meaningful relationships at every level of the industry.
You should be seeking conversations. You should be spending more time listening than talking. You should be searching to identify real needs, and when you can’t meet the needs you identify, become a connector. Focus on building relationships and helping others do the same.
How do you pick which sessions to attend, and why?
Brad is going to hate this answer, but I rarely attend sessions. I’m not there for the sessions unless a friend is speaking. Even then I’m not really there for the session, I’m there for the friend, so even that motivation is about building relationships.
So, my suggestion is to look at the conference schedule, understand what topics interest you and identify which speakers you may want to connect with. I’ve had several long-term relationships develop because I engaged speakers after their presentation. And I’ve been on both sides of that equation.
What’s the single biggest thing not to miss at every Connect?
The parties. Big or small, the parties are where the real connections take place. If you do it right, you’ll be dog tired at the end of the week, but it will be worth it. Don’t shy away from the evening events — they’re the best part of the experience. And if you can get an invite to CEO Connect, go. I think it’s the best thing Inman has done in the last 10 years.