Quick question – how many mortgage conferences are you scheduled to attend this year? Chances are you’ve already registered for a number of tradeshows, conferences, and other types of events in 2018.
The benefits are clear –you can learn more about your industry, establish new connections with potential business partners, and even discuss deals with exhibiting lenders.
Unfortunately, those benefits also come with difficulties. Many professionals end up missing out on conferences because of the ticket price, travel accommodations, and the general anxiety they feel when away from their business for any extended period of time.
It doesn’t have to be this way! If you take the following steps before you attend a mortgage event, you will feel better about being away from your desk and create more opportunities for successful networking.
1. Conduct some pre-conference scouting
The best way to gauge how much you can get out of a mortgage conference or tradeshow is to get a clear understanding of who will be there and what the main discussion topics will encompass. For instance, if you’re a residential originator looking to grow you commercial mortgage business, try holding out for an event that includes a healthy mix of residential and commercial sponsors and speakers. Otherwise, you may end up going to the same events as last year and missing out on establishing any new connections that could further your education.
How can you conduct this type of scouting? Simply visit the event’s website. The organizers will typically post a conference agenda detailing the sessions, speakers, and general focus of the event. Then, take a look at the list of sponsors. Is the list comprised mostly of banks? Hard money lenders? You can learn much about an event’s purpose and networking possibilities based on what you discover.
2. Create a mortgage conference networking strategy
Not everyone has a talent for networking, even in the mortgage industry. Still, a hesitation to network shouldn’t keep you from attending conferences in your area. The solution is simply to create a plan of action.
Before you pack your bags, write down your objectives for the conference. Who do you want to meet? What do you want to learn? Your answers here should give you a clear idea of who you need to connect with during the event.
Once you know the “who,” it’s time to tackle the “how.” This really comes down to your temperament. If you have an outgoing personality, you may find it easiest to network in the exhibition hall. That way you can pass by each sponsor’s booth while also making connections with the other attendees on the floor.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking that tact, you can invite a smaller group of like-minded individuals to meet at a restaurant near the conference location, or even just in a spare room in the hotel or convention center itself. The key is to establish a clear reason for meeting – say, a discussion on changing industry regulations – and to plan ahead. Take a look through your database before the event and identify colleagues and referral partners who are likely attending as well. You’ll get a better turnout if you extend an early invitation, and by giving colleagues time to invite others as well, you’ll put yourself in position to meet new business partners in a more intimate setting.
3. Manage your time
Of course, mortgage conferences are about more than just networking. If you skip out on the educational sessions, product demos, roundtables, and other agenda items just to spend more time in the exhibition hall, you’ll miss out on opportunities to improve your mindset and overall business.
Balance is key. Look through the conference schedule and pick out the sessions that are most relevant to your business. You’ll quickly discover that you have more than enough time to educate yourself and network.
Lastly, take steps to create a work-conference balance as well. If you check your phone throughout every session and keynote address, you’ll fail to retain any useful information. A better strategy would be to set aside 15 minutes every hour or two to respond to emails and make any necessary calls. It helps to find a quiet area where you can also charge your phone and use your laptop if needed.
It isn’t always easy to make time for a mortgage conference or tradeshow, but the benefits are worth the effort. Follow these tips and you should be able to improve your business without skipping a beat.
Already have mortgage events scheduled? Check the event calendar on our website to see if Silver Hill Funding is attending as well. We would love to get together to discuss your opportunities with small-balance commercial mortgages.