Inman Connect San Francisco is always an incredible week for me. It’s a family reunion to reconnect with some of my dearest friends, it’s a place to meet
the “who’s who” in real estate and technology and it’s a place to grow my business. This past #ICSF I had the good fortune of being asked to speak for five sessions and it was truly an honor. I spoke during Tech Connect about my top five tech tips in five minutes (I talked really fast on this one!), I spoke during the marketing track with an all-new presentation on content marketing (a fave topic of mine!) and I spoke at three learning labs on topics like growing your sphere and establishing a broker social media strategy. You can check out all 5 of my presentation decks and notes here!
This year at Connect, I really was intentional about the meetings I scheduled, the sessions I attended, as well as making sure I wasn’t ‘over-scheduled’
(easy to do!) I had some incredible meetings with some of my amazing partners and clients like: Contactually, Windermere Real Estate, Adwerx, HomeselfeRE, Leverage Global Partners, Boomtown, Chime, SmartZip, Imprev, Referral Exchange and many more. I decided long ago that I only want to work with people and products that do good work and who are good people. Life is too short to work with people who’s ego is too big, or who are just selling something just to sell something. I’m so proud of the partnerships we have made over these last five years in business. All of these companies have been just awesome to work with!
Also, I was thrilled to have my husband and business partner, Paul, join me during part of the week. We hosted our annual #GetSocialSmart Academy dinner and we had a wonderful time ‘breaking bread’ and really getting to know our awesome Academy family even better.
I asked some of my dear friends and awesome Inman ambassadors for their top take-aways. What you see below are their thoughts and opinions unedited. I thank them all for their candor and their willingness to share; this is what Inman Connect is all about.
Molly McKinley, EVP, Marketing, Relola @mollymckinley3
My key takeaway from Inman is that we are on the verge of truly coming together as an industry. Inman is moving us from professional relationships to personal commitments to each other. And, when that happens, we can truly unite and solve together. And, take on big challenges like homelessness. This was my Inman moment–when I realized this group of people can do anything we set our mind to.
Veronica Figueroa, Owner/Broker, RE/MAX Innovation @figerueroateam
- Storytelling – The art of storytelling is so powerful. There is so much more beyond what we see. Tell the story and speak up.
- Diversity – We have a chance to make a change. We have to listen to those who have different views because whether we agree or not it will play a huge part in the changes we will face as an industry.
- Engage with your team. The minute you disengage as a leader you have to take responsibility.
Our industry is insecure about innovation, diversity and the future.
Finding the balance between technology and human relationships is possible. We have a responsibility to disconnect from systems more and connect more people. Use systems that help you spend more face to face time.
Jim Walberg, Owner, The Bay Area Team, Pacific Union @jimwalberg
The over arching theme for me of this year’s connect was the power of one person’s ability to change the world they work and
play in. We are each given permission to be great. We have the tools available to us to do so. It comes down to a personal choice each day. It will be unfortunate if we do not take action because the reality is that there may be no one else in our villages willing to do so.
The tech stuff was very interesting, however, for me it is still a focus on the personal relationships I have with my family, my community and my professional life, and how can I up my game on my service to each of these segments of my life.
Disconnect: I went into the woods with no expectations in order to experience what may unfold. What happened because of being away from the noise were six very deep and important conversations with people I had never met. Two of those were with Nina Dosanjh and Dan Smith. That was the gift of Disconnect for me. (Well, the bonfire on Monday night was pretty unforgettable, too.)
Agent Connect – James Becker: His presentation regarding the “inconvenient truth” about how the vast majority of agents who have had success in real estate do not sustain it over a ten year period – less than 5%. They are typically chasing “leads” instead of building long term relationships with their clientele. Sustained growth and success in real estate is based on the ability of agents to create deep and lasting relationships.
Planton: I had never heard of this world renown photographer. I was expecting to have him show us some beautiful photos and entertain us. I had no idea that each of the 30+ photos he shared had stories connected to them. The stories created laughter and tears during his 60 minutes. It was one of my favorite Inman Connect presenters ever! “Build bridges. Break down barriers. Find common ground every day in your village.” – Planton.
David Smith: An example of how one person can change the world. His story regarding the support of refugees into Canada was beyond moving.
Vija Williams: Her presentation on how her real estate world collapsed and the lessons she learned was a moment of public vulnerability that is rare to experience. “Stay engaged each day with your team members or suffer the consequences of them forming their own team and leaving you behind.” – Vija Williams.
Vivienne Ming: Giving us permission to have a purpose bigger than ourselves. Another person who is changing the world each day. WOW!
Scott Stratten: He challenged us to do things worth talking about for our client services – creating extraordinary moments each day. Your brand matters – either for improving your world, or having it race to the bottom.
Jessica Hansen: She moved us regarding her presentation on the Power of WE – changing lives, one person and moment at a time – which ultimately changes the world!
Dan Siegler: An engineer from Google said the BIG deal is machine learning – artificial intelligence. Using algorithms and tools to help machines learn. Blew me away as to what is already here and what is coming. Strap yourself in for the ride.
The Inman Connect Innovator Award: “The Nate Ellis Give Back Award” honoring the legacy of Nate Ellis, was given to Leslie Ebersole from Baird & Warner because of her non-stop contribution to our real estate industry. Nate’s legacy continues.
CAR.org’s “Women UP” Initiative: CAR has created a “Women UP” initiative which is supporting women in our industry to take on more leadership positions in our industry. At the moment only 16% of the Brokerages have women as their leaders. Giving women permission to be great and providing the tools necessary to become even greater is the outcome they are seeking. A powerful session with Leslie Appleton Young and Sara Sutachan.
Charlie Young, CEO of Coldwell Banker: He closed out Inman Connect conference. The disruption in our real estate industry will be how each of us adapt as a new set of rules show up; Big Data; New Media; Consumers having experiences outside of our industry that are extraordinary and expecting a similar experience when buying or selling a home. They communicate on multiple platforms; They leverage everything around them. The empowered agent needs to be hard at work in creating a client experience that is not only what they expect, but exceeding it.
Billy Ekofo, Director, Century 21 Redwood Realty @billyekofo
My major takeaway from ICSF this year revolves around the notion of vulnerability. Often we see being vulnerable as a sign of weakness, and we do everything we can to not be seen as weak. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we invite the world to see us, and see who we truly are – and it opens opportunities.
Sean Carpenter, Realtor, Coldwell Banker King Thompson @seancarp
Once again, I was reminded how appropriately named Inman Connect is. It not only connects real estate and technology but more importantly, it connects people.
This year it seemed there was a large number of first time attendees, which is hopefully a testament to the consistent social chatter and conversations that me and my fellow Ambassadors are having online and in person between the Inman Connect New York event and the Inman Connect San Francisco events. It’s hard to attend a Connect and not want to tell other people so they can enjoy the experience as well.
It is the global connections, referral opportunities and secondary networks that , in my opinion, will continue to win out over the imminent AI and Chat-bot fears which seem to have been happening for the last few Connect events. Is AI coming – there is no doubt it will be a major player in the real estate industry, but will it arrive still in 2017 or next year in 2018? I don’t think so. At least not with enough force and buy-in from everyone in the industry and more importantly, in the consumer side of the industry.
Continue to create, cultivate and collaborate with your networks events like Inman Connect help to build and your opportunity to #BecomeBetter in 2018 and beyond will keep you ahead of your competition.
Until next year’s event, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.
Andrea Geller, Realtor, HOT PROPERTY® The Chaz Walters Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage @andreageller
As typical the the balance of veteran and new speakers, along with stand out keynotes Paton and Scott Stratten, provided content that were learning lessons What stood out to me at this particular Connect was meeting so many brand new attendees who I had the opportunity to speak with. So many fresh ideas came out of those conversations.
The focus on telling the story. That was what I took away from the keynotes and several other sessions. You have to have the story first and then figure out which tools to use to get the story out to capture the prospective buyer or seller.
Tracy Freeman, Broker/Associate, Coldwell Banker Maplewood @tracyfreemannj
As an Inman Ambassador, I am often asked what is the difference between #ICSF and #ICNY. My usual reply is that San Francisco is heavier on tech. This year, I was amused and happily surprised to hear quotes on Day 1 from Brad Inman: “Be what the computer cannot.” On Day 2 to hear Scott Stratten say “Do something worth talking about. “and on Day 3 to hear Kofi say “Listen with selfish ears”. All of this was music to MY ears. Because at the very heart of our business is relationship building and in order to do that, you have to actively listen and act upon what you hear
Stacie Staub, CEO/Founder/Owner at West and Main Homes @staciestaub
Matt Beall from Hawaii Life was talking about choosing to stay Indie, and explaining the difference between strategic alliances and mergers/acquisitions. He said, “Just because you take the meeting, doesn’t mean you have to sign the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement).” I think that resonated with a lot of Indie Broker Owners, including myself…who are constantly under pressure to go Franchise.
Valerie Garcia made a fantastic point when she stated, “I bet you 10 years ago you didn’t think that you would be walking around with a computer in your pants!” She not only got a laugh, she made a great point about staying open-minded to new + innovative technologies.
Finally, Platon really made a fantastic point about the importance of being in the moment, and asking yourself what you would do if you were not afraid. He said, “When you have the opportunity of a lifetime, will you break all of the rules and go for it?” I like to think that I have, and that I will continue to do so.
Jacy Riedmann, Blogger and Speaker, The Geeky Girls and VP, AmouraProductions.com @socialmediajacy
My greatest takeaways came from both keynote speakers, they both really moved their audience with humor and story telling. How can we put the humor and story telling back in to our business processes? Consumers are savvy and they don’t want to feel hassled or like their constantly being sold to. They want to enjoy their home buying or selling process so how do we make it an entertaining experience instead of a stress or hassle? I think there’s a lot of opportunity here for agents to reinvent their image in their clients’ eyes.
Frankly, I think it’s why so many alternatives to traditional purchasing/selling avenues have popped up…the consumer is saying make this an experience, not a chore….who doesn’t enjoy a good experience?
Laurie Davis, Broker/Owner, BHGRE Lifestyle Property Partners @lauriewdavis
This year the ICSF keynote speakers really hit it out of the ballpark! My big take away was from Scott Stratten was “To get word of mouth marketing, you have to do things worth talking about”. You can’t fake “community”. His ideas on how real estate agents should market really resonated with me. I was also blown away by Platon! When he said “The danger is you get trapped inside your own echo bubble”… it made me think about how folks get so caught up in their own world and are not open to new ideas and change.
Nikki Beauchamp, Broker, Engel & Volkers @nikkibeauchamp
You have the greatest opportunity to be community driven but you are the worst at it.
You know how I know you aren’t – you have to state you are.
I found so many profound statements while watching Scott Strattens keynote but the above really stuck out to me. Particularly in an era where there is more social entrepreneurship , given the work done in real estate it seems like a natural progression to be true members of the communities that we live, work and even play in.
Other sessions I found valuable :
- The startup track – lots of valuable information for anyone seeking to start a business. And specific to brokerage the panel with Sherry Chris, John Aaroe and Nick Segal had a lot of great information not only for those thinking their company could be an M&A target but for those who may aspire to be in that position how to get there
- The vulnerability displayed by speakers during this connect made it easier to connect with their stories and take away lessons for business. I applaud those who have the courage to share their failures as well.
- On the final day of Connect Kofi Nartley was also an excellent speaker.
- I had the pleasure of attending disconnect and there were powerful and impactful discussions- which can be hard to manage in groups of thousands of individuals – but my advice to others is to use the community year round to continue conversations not just at connect.
Stacy Stateham, VP of Marketing and Branding, BloomTree Realty @stacystateham
The biggest difference with Inman Connect for me compared to other conferences is the culture. It’s totally different. It’s positive, empowering, and super collaborative. I love being able to meet with agents and brokers from across the country, share ideas, and compare best practices. I always walk away with a lot of great ideas and it’s awesome to feel like I’ve been able to give more than I got.
Chelsea Meng, Realtor, C.J. Brown Realtors @chelseameng
ICSF 17 was such an amazing experience for me. As an ICSF Ambassador, my task was to get out and connect people. This brought me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to get to know some of the most brilliant minds in the business. Hearing about their battles that they’ve had to overcome reminded me that I’m not alone in the crazy world of Real Estate. Another eye opening part of ICSF for me were all of the vendors and products being showcased. I came back to Louisiana with a huge list of tech products and ideas that I can’t wait to implement in my business. I’ll be riding the ICSF high for a while, hoping it doesn’t end!
Lisa Archer, Chief Opportunity Officer, LiveLoveHomes @lisaarcher
My Inman takeaway – “as with any business the name of the game is relationships. The difference is what you sell. People want to work with people they know , like and trust. Be human and solve their problems. It really is that simple.”
Joe Schutt, Broker/Owner, Unit Realty Group @joeschutt
I have been going to Inman Connect for years and I have enjoyed them all for different reasons. Sometimes it’s the content, sometimes the attendees or vendors and sometimes it’s just the amazing deep connections I have made.
This year was a year of vendors. I connected with many and found some new awesome ones, which of course I connected, introduced, many others to as well. And here are a few I’d like to mention.
Mailings, yes, they are still a thing, but nowadays they are more targeted than ever. For that targeted bulk mailing you definitely need to check out RealMailers.com. Target homes by filtering them by number of bedrooms, square footage, year built, etc. Love that! And let’s not forget the more personal note. If you are like me, I never get to the store or the post office, you want to send out that note, but keep forgetting to with all of the obstacles. Well, in steps KardZee.com to save you from yourself and allows your handwriting for that special one off note, nice designs, upload a photo and even send an electronic Amazon gift card!
Sphere of Influence (SOI) is one of my biggest sources of business. Whether it is a referral from one of my awesome friends, clients or fellow Realtors, I can always count on a great experience with my SOI. So, what if you could find out who in your SOI is most likely to sell sooner rather than later so you can spend your marketing dollars and time more wisely…I have two companies for you to check out here. First.io and Revaluate.com are both there with their data mining and matching it to your database in some fancy ways so you can stay front of mind with those who are thinking of selling in the near future. And I hear that First.io is working on a buyer version of this…more to come I am sure.
Single Property Sites are kind of whatever, they’ve been around forever and have become a big so what…then I found Rela.com at ICSF. At first I thought the guy at the booth in Startup Alley was cute so I went over to learn more and I’m glad I did. A couple of things I liked about their platform that I haven’t seen before is a separate link to the site which is unbranded so you can add it to your MLS with video, photos and all the info in one spot. The second thing I really liked was the ease of use when doing Facebook marketing. A few targeted clicks and done, so much easier than going into your convoluted Facebook dashboard and clicking through. Not to mention, they have some #UnitOrange templates. Two thumbs up here!
And if you need some enhancements made for those awesome photos on your above Rela site, definitely check out BoxBrownie.com. Easy to use and pretty inexpensive, you can transform the photos with item removal, which we all know we wish we did when the photographer was there, but we missed that one thing. Or maybe adding something in with their virtual staging. Definitely check out their before and after photos.
And of course I can’t forget about workflow…Preclose steps in with a great, easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, invite all your people into it system system. Yes, I meant to use system twice. I have been watching this product since ICNY and speaking with them to do more than just contract to close and they are totally open to it. I can’t wait for when it covers Pre Lead to Post Close 🙂
And finally, the boring accounting shit! I want to look at something pretty when I have to do something as mundane as commission splits and check writing and BrokerSumo.com did just that. Visually pleasing, easy to use and I signed up on the spot. Web based so my Mac is happy and I can do ACH payments to my agents and vendors. This makes me a happy camper!
There are so many more vendors out there doing great things, but I could only talk about a few, or so, here on Katie’s post, so I went with these! Feel free to reach out if you want to talk about others.
Sara Sutachan, VP of Industry Relations and Strategic Initiatives, California Association of REALTORS® @sarasutachan
- Debra Trappen’s powerful talk at Disconnect. It was a call to action to bring more [qualified] women and diversity into leadership. A quick synopsis is she asked Jim Walberg to read several women’s horror stories of discrimination/harassment in the workplace—all but 1 happened in the last two years. Then she asked everyone to look to their left and right to see who was sitting there. Is it diverse enough? She gave tangible takeaways on how to bridge the gap and move the needle for women in leadership. She gave the reason why women wait to be asked (it in ingrained in many of us still!). And reminded us that sometimes breaking rules that maybe need breaking.
- Steve Murray was also great at Indie. He shared the 3 secrets to running a successful brokerage. 1. Know how to Recruit talent. 2. Develop talent. 3. Spend less money than you have coming in. It is that simple.
- The photographer Platon had me in tears. We did our charity ride that morning and went to see him in our gear. And it was worth it. In fact, it was worth the price of admission. My two favorite quotes/takeaways were: “To be a great leader you also have to think of yourself as a servant.” The power of storytelling is instilling compassion and empathy for someone we don’t even know. He did that for me in the stories he told about the people he photographed.
Tiffany Kjellander, Owner/CEO at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate PorchLight Properties @tkjellander
Boxbrownie.com. – I loved them even before I met them. This Australia based company provides affordable, top notch photo
editing services, as well as incredible virtual staging. Key for properties that are vacant. If you list & market properties, you absolutely must give them a try. Tell them Tiffany sent you.
PAM – Which stands for Pocket Agent Mentor. Pam is basically on a virtual onboarding guide – perfect for new hires. Pam guides your newbies through a user designed checklist and allows for uploads of videos, worksheets, or PDFs to assist with the onboarding process. The product can be white labeled, and solves a huge problem. This is perfect for brokerages, teams, and could work for mortgage & title companies – big or small – anyone who needs to systematically onboard new hires. So good.
There’s a real pushback on technology for technology’s sake. A lot of the speakers and panels were talking about getting back to “the basics”, going old school, and just getting to work.As my husband Jeff Lobb always says, “Technology isn’t the differentiator, you are.” But doing the things that work for you – not doing everything. If you hate door knocking – don’t do it. Double down on cold calling if that’s your bag, or direct mail. Get involved in the community, and participate. “If you want word of mouth marketing,” Scott Stratten said, “Do things worth talking about.”
Jeff Lobb, Founder and CEO, SparkTank Media @jefflobb
Scott Stratten, like Gary Vaynerchuck at last years #ICSF, focused in on something I’ve been talking about for years. Community
isn’t about the town, or just the location, but it’s about the people. Tell their stories through blogs and videos. As real estate professionals, we have an incredible opportunity to build our businesses while creating synergy with our local business owners. This makes you the go-to when they need help buying or selling.
Tech companies I’m loving right now: Naberly Solutions, First.io, & Adwerx’s new enterprise solutions for brokerages!
People have great ideas. What’s lacking is a clear execution and what makes those ideas saleable is the packaging.
Whew! Did you make it this far? A big thanks again to all of my friends and Inman Ambassadors who contributed to this post.
A big thank you to Brad Inman and the entire Inman team. Kudos on putting together a truly fabulous event.
This Connect was bigger than ever – with thousands of new faces in the lobby and in the sessions. But, some of my very favorite moments are the ones that weren’t snapped or tweeted. They were the conversations in the hallway, the chats in the lobby at an ungodly hour, the late night dinners and the early morning coffee dates. As always, Inman Connect is and always will be about the connections you make. Coming to #ICSF every year has always helped my business in so many ways. As I weed through my notes and my business cards, I smile because I can’t wait for my next Inman family reunion. A