Next week I am off to Las Vegas for the ICSC RECon 2017 mega retail conference; certainly, the biggest commercial real estate show in the U.S. This will be my fifth straight year attending the show, and each year we seem to be better prepared, and more importantly – get better results. Here are my 6 steps to best prepare for major conferences:

1. Establish what success looks like. For me, going out to ICSC is both a major financial commitment and a time commitment. As such, I must be sure I receive both a return on my investment and a return on involvement. I wanted to secure at least 8 personal meetings, as well as set aside some social/networking time with our clients, associates, and colleagues.

2. Let everyone know you are attending, share why they should want to meet with you, and preset your meetings. This year we publicly announced that I will be attending and was available to meet with individual brokers to discuss their personal brokerage business plans for growth. Likewise, you can ask for meetings with your targeted audience and share the benefits of meeting with you. The good news is that we set 14 meetings (again the goal was 8), and have a waiting list just in case we have cancellations. We have also already scheduled the ‘waiting list’ for phone meetings.

3. Ask your audience for some pre-meeting input. We asked all the folks we are meeting with to complete a 3-minute business assessment; thus, we will know what issues we need to address in the limited time we have together. You can certainly do the same, whether on the phone beforehand – or with one of several survey tools.

4. Do your research on everyone you are going to meet with. Beyond the assessment, get a picture of your guest, google them, check out their LinkedIn profile. This will both save you time, and demonstrate to your guest that you did your homework.

5. Have an objective of how the meeting will proceed and where you would like to see it go. Based on the assessments, prospect profiles, and other research – we feel confident that most our meetings will lead to business opportunities. If we didn’t we would not hold the meeting.

6. Intentionally follow up. Don’t just sent a generic thank you, but send a handwritten note relating to the topics you discussed during your meeting.

Conferences (especially ICSC’s RECon) can be expensive, and exhausting – if you are going to invest your time and money in attending, be sure to make the most of it.

Of course, all of the folks we are meeting with, and all the pertinent information we need to know so we can make the most of these meetings – is stored in our CRM. If you would like to explore today’s most popular commercial real estate CRMs, please join me for the Great CRE CRM Debate, featuring the 5 leading CRE CRM providers on June 1. Click here to register for this free event.

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