If you weren’t at RECON 2016 – the annual mecca of the International Council of Shopping Centers in Las Vegas – you missed a terrific show. Every year (well, every year since 2009), this event seems to get bigger and bigger. As this was my 4th consecutive trip, I thought I would share some lessons, other than the usual business building tips, that proved very beneficial to getting the most out of this investment of time and money.
10 survival lessons from ICSC RECON
1) Be like Herman Monster
I broke my foot earlier this year and had the choice of wearing nice dress shoes and being in pain the entire event, or buy “dress walking shoes”. These block looking shoes were without a doubt the ugliest pair of shoes I have ever purchased, and I am never letting them out of my sight. In all prior years I would be crawling to a massage therapist for relief the day after RECON. This year, I found I could meet with more people, be fresh and energetic and close more client engagements.
2) McDonald’s Coffee
McDonald’s is THE place to go in the morning before you start your meetings. South Hall, Q Street and 30th (I think) was well worth the line for a free cup of coffee to get you on the go.
3) Refresh at the American Express Club
Located between the Central and North Halls, this is a great place to refresh, get some light snacks and charge your phone. However, it gets too crowded for meetings, and you will need an AmEx Business Open or Platinum card to get in.
4) Give yourself time to eat
Our meetings started at 8 and ended at 6, every hour on the hour. Thank goodness for Jersey Mikes free subs on Q Street and 47th in the South Hall or we would have never made it. The free Auntie Anne’s Pretzels across from Jersey Mike’s certainly helped as well.
5) Attend the late afternoon parties
As mentioned earlier, we had meetings scheduled all afternoon, and found some very productive conversations occur while simultaneously attending several cocktail parties, including CCIM, Calkain, CBC and others. These are great opportunities to enhance current client relationships and initiate new ones.
6) Work out every morning
OK, this is easier for us East Coasters, but really, what a great way to start the long days of meetings. I love when the elevator doors open on the lobby floor as I stand there in my running shoes ready to go, and inevitably, there is some group wobbling back in after a long night/early morning party experience. If you’ve never ran the Strip at 6 am, you are in for a real treat.
7) Stay till Wednesday
This is mostly applicable for those who are in leasing. It seems most the owners and investment brokers vacate on Tuesday; however, ICSC mandates all exhibitors maintain their booths until the end of the show late Wednesday. What this means is, as a leasing broker or developer, you have easier access to your targeted decision makers.
8) What happens at ICSC canNOT stay at ICSC
Unlike your late night activities away from the exposition hall, everything you do at ICSC must go home with you. You need a plan to follow up with every person you’ve met with and every lead you secured. It wouldn’t hurt to add a pile of thank you letters to your to do list this weekend.
9) Have a Plan B
When someone cancels on you, and someone will if you pre-schedule enough meetings, have a list of people you want to see, but do not have a meeting with. For me, I tried to shake hands with every President/CEO of the national CRE firms, and had a complete list of all our active and inactive clients that were attending the show. Just leaving my card with the respective booth receptionist was enough to simply leave a touch, and an impression.
10) Walk the hallways with your head up
Without a doubt this is where you will reconnect with a great number of people. I personally ran into no less than 20 active and inactive clients, and initiated 2 strategic deals with other folks I “bumped into”. My partner/brother ran into a frat brother he had not seen in 30 years! Pick your head up and away from your phones. Those emails aren’t going anywhere, but your next big deal may walk right by.
For those readers looking for more specific feedback from the expo floor – here it is. Folks are concerned about the direction of legislation after the November election. More so than at any other time that I could remember. People are preparing for a slowdown (probably one of the reasons we had so many requests to discuss our coaching). The time to improve yourself is not when you wish you had. The time is now. For a free consultation on your current position and how we can assist in building your personal CRE business, please click here.
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Will I go to RECON 2017? Absolutely! In fact, we already agreed to stay and extra day and formalize a client event. Regardless of how many days we end up attending, I can guarantee you this; I will be the one wearing Herman Monster’s shoes!