Digital strategist and marketing consultant Tara Christianson knows a few things about how lives can change at Inman Connect (January 22-26, 2018, Marriott Marquis Hotel, Times Square). Not only did she get engaged on stage, but she has grown her network, her friends and her business in incredible ways at the event over the years.
We were fortunate enough to spend some time with Tara recently to ask her about her journey and get some tactical advice on how to get the most out of the conference.
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?
I went digging through my photos to figure out the first time I’d ever come to ICNY … and from the looks of it, it was 2010!
I remember my first experience was so overwhelming — it was trying to absorb all the sights and sounds of New York City while trying to take advantage of all that Inman had to offer. It was so outside of my comfort zone, and so totally worth it. It’s why I keep coming back. I met people at that event who I still call dear friends to this day.
That first Inman NYC gave me the most incredible opportunity to meet people in real estate outside of my area, to start to comprehend just how large the real estate network is and to be absolutely blown away by the amount of open information sharing that happens around every corner.
The generosity of people at Inman events is something that keeps amazing me — really, all you have to do is ask!
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?
Start getting involved now. If you wait until the actual event, the time will fly before you know it, and you may suffer a little remorse over the people you didn’t meet and conversations you didn’t have. By taking advantage of reading Inman Connect stories (like this one!), watching the speakers list, becoming active on the Inman Coast to Coast Facebook group and learning all you can about who’s going to be attending and who the ambassadors are, you’ll start to get a picture of who you want to connect with before the event.
Identify three questions you have in your business right now. The desire to discover those answers will help you shape your agenda at the event, as well as help the ambassadors know who they should introduce you to.
Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with people in the elevator, lobby or at the hotel bar, and ask those tough questions — you’ll be surprised by the willingness of people to help a fellow attendee.
How do you pick which sessions to attend, and why?
I take full advantage of the Inman app, which allows me to learn more about the content on offer and really get a schedule together so I know when and where I’m supposed to be during the whole conference.
I research some of the people I’m unfamiliar with, and often connect with them on the various social platforms beforehand so I have a better idea of what they’re about.
I try to arrange a mix of things to attend so I’m not only learning about my sweet spots (marketing and technology) but am also getting a bigger picture of where brokerages are heading, what new, effective techniques salespeople are using to increase their business and what technologies I can take back to my clients.
The beauty of Inman is that there’s something for everyone on offer across the whole week. My advice to others would be to step outside some of the sessions you’d normally attend and sit in on sessions that expand your mind and encourage creative, innovative thought in your business.
What’s the single biggest thing not to miss at every Connect?
How do I pick?! I’d say don’t miss the morning speakers, and plan to stay the entire week. Yes, there will be some late nights and a week is a long time. However, Brad and his team have thought about every second of this conference and you won’t want to miss one thing. It’s worth it to make the investment of time and energy to dig into everything that’s on offer. From Startup Alley to the Influencer Bash, you should try to see and do as much as you possibly can.
For those still on the fence about attending, what’s the one piece of advice you’d give them?
If you want the perfect kickstart to your new year, this is the only event to attend. Stop procrastinating and register now. Your clients will thank you, your business will thank you, you’ll thank yourself. Besides, I’m pretty sure Peter Brewer promised to buy you a beverage!
While you’re there, be sure you sign up for next year’s event too. This isn’t a one-time event. The connections and learning you’ll get will be life-changing and will have ongoing positive effects, and you’ll want to keep building on that year after year.