Adventures in San Diego, networking lessons learned from BPCon 2022Oct 15, 2022
Networking is a crucial part of multifamily syndication, and one of the best ways to network is through industry conferences. To highlight some networking best practices, we will highlight our CEO's journey during his most recent conference Bigger Pockets. Keep in mind these networking tips apply to anything from your tiny meetup, to the largest national conferences out there. To keep it simple we broke down our tips into 3 sections, Pre-Show, During-Show, and After-Show so you know exactly what and when you need to be doing things. As with all of our content feel free to tweak it to best fit your needs. Now that you know the format let's dive into our first topic, what to do before your upcoming event.
Pre-Show Networking Tips
1. Know the audience
One of the most valuable resources we have is time in the day, because of this if you are ever going to attend an event you should have a good idea of what kind of people are attending. Knowing the audience will allow you to make better decisions on how to prepare for the event, in terms of who you should be trying to meet and setting goals around the event. This also prevents you from showing up to an event where you will get little to no value. For example, if you show up to a meetup focused around getting started in passive investing, and you are only focused on finding operators to help you syndicate it might be a mismatch. This can typically be accomplished by emailing the event host, or sponsor coordinator and simply asking what types of people typically attend. A typical message I send it:
“Hi, [First Name]
I’ve been looking into [name of event] and want to learn a little more before attending. Can you tell me more about what kind of personas typically attend, I want to make sure I’m in the right spot?
That quick email typically sparks a call or longer conversation where I can learn more about the event to understand exactly what I’m getting into and who I can expect to meet.
2. Set your personal networking goals for the event
Goals are critical to ensure you get the most out of anything in life. This tip is short and sweet before attending any event map out how many good connections you are looking to create and the purpose. A great template I learned from Bigger Pockets was to aim for 5 strong connections.
- Someone you can mentor
- Someone you can learn from on a personal level
- Someone that can help elevate your businesses
- A mutually beneficial partnership
- Someone who is where you want to be in 5 years
3. Show up prepared with a strategy in mind
Create a strategy before the event so you understand what talks you are going to, or how you are going to engage in conversations. This might sound silly but I’m amazed at how often people show up to a networking event sit in the corner and wonder why business cards don’t come flying their way. You NEED a strategy to get the most out of events. If you are at a conference, bring cards, and plan out talks based on who you want to meet. Know a few openers or questions you can ask to kick-start the conversation. In most cases you need to be prepared to work the room, so figure out the best places to do that and know what you can say to kick-start the conversation with new people.
During-Show Networking Tips
1. Sit in the “power seats” during talks
Conferences are typically split between networking time and learning from panels and guest speakers. Don’t ignore the opportunity to network just because you are in a speaking session, this does not mean be rude and talk during the presentation. However, you should introduce yourself to everyone around you! This means sitting in crowded areas, not hiding in the corner! The best part is you are already in a talk you know everyone else is interested in, so you have an easy opener to start a conversation. Here is what I did during some of the multifamily-themed talks at BPCon.
"Hi there I’m Nick, what are you hoping to get out of this talk, have you been doing multifamily for a while?"
Easy, friendly, and to the point.
2. Attend all the bonus events
Some of you reading this might think this is an obvious bullet but I’ve seen so many people think the “optional networking time” is code for go explore the city you are visiting. You should always make an effort to show up to the networking events that are set aside in the schedule. This is your best chance to work a large room of people and introduce yourself because the point of the event is to network. Keep in mind some of these are typically very early or late depending on the conference so pick when you are at your best if you are trying to maximize your time.
3. Take notes
Don’t fall victim to having a great conversation, getting a new card in your pocket, and forgetting everything about that person when you go to follow up 2 days later. I’ve seen two ways to tackle this: take notes directly on the business card or take a photo of the card in your notes app with a few bullets on the next steps in your conversation. Your follow-ups will be much more personal vs a generic “Hi I met you at X I’d love to have another chat”. Speaking of follow-ups let's jump into what you should be doing once a show concludes.
Post-Show Networking Tips
1. Followup within a few days of the show
There is something magical about the first few days after a conference where you are riding the energetic high from all your learning and conversations. Take advantage of everyone else feeling the same way! If you are waiting weeks to send follow-up emails, your connections won’t feel like a priority, or worse they won’t even recall your conversation.
2. Add value to your connections
Do not send follow-up emails focused all around your needs, instead phrase your messages in a way that is mutually beneficial or offers value to your new connection. People are bombarded with emails constantly, in order to get a response the reader needs to see the potential for value in your relationship. This requires you to pay attention and reply to the pain points they mentioned during your conversation. For example, if during your conversation they mention needing help with marketing, you might have the skill set to help or know someone who does. Lead with this, create a relationship that can build from you helping each other.
3. Reach out to speakers you enjoyed
There are some amazing speakers at conferences and meetups, if you hear something that inspires you LET THEM KNOW. It is typically difficult to sync up with a speaker right after their presentation and they are likely exhausted from speaking. Shoot them an email saying why you enjoyed their talk and ask if you can send them a coffee as a thank you. It is amazing what you can do to spark a relationship all for less than $5 and some of your time.