Maximizing Your Time at Las Vegas RECon
I was recently asked to share my top tips for young brokers headed to the Las Vegas ICSC RECON Convention in May. With 30,000 landlords, retailers, brokers, developers and industry vendors gathered in one place for only three short days, you must be as effective as possible. If you treat this event like your annual vacation you will not be in this business very long.
1. HAVE A SYSTEM
It is not enough just to carry business cards with you. You need to have a system in place. Put your cards in your left pocket and then every card you collect in your right pocket. First time meetings are awkward enough. Don’t make it worse by fumbling around looking for your own card.
2. MEMORIALIZE EACH ENCOUNTER WITH A NEW CONTACT
When someone hands you their card, stop and read it right in front of them (it shows interest and helps you remember their name). Then, take out a pen and make a note on the back of the card regarding the topic of your meeting or something about that person or their client/project. You can do that in front of them or right after they walk away but don’t wait until later. Each night when you return to your hotel room, empty your pockets of all the cards you collect and annotate the notes on the back if needed. You will need those notes later.
3. INVITE YOURSELF TO A MEETING
If you are looking for something to do, invite yourself to other people’s meetings. Anyone’s meeting. You can do this on the spur of the moment when talking to someone in the convention center. Ask them if you can tag along. Tell them you are trying to learn the business and make it clear you are not trying to get in the middle of their deal. You are just there to learn. You will be surprised at the response. Then sit there and soak it in.
Don’t try to contribute. Just listen, collect cards and take notes.
4. BE SEEN BY ALL YOUR LOCAL COLLEAGUES
Before you go, make a list of the local companies in your area and their booth number. The ICSC APP makes this very easy. Use your free time to stop by their booth, even without an appointment. You are nobody in this business if you don’t attend RECON. Make sure everyone in your area knows you were there. If you don’t get to speak to anyone at the booth, leave your card with a brief note on the back inviting them to lunch or a cup of coffee back home. Get their card from the receptionist in their booth and make a note to follow up on that lunch or coffee. It gets noticed.
5. BRAG A LITTLE
If you are a member of the Retail Broker’s Network, invite everyone you know to the RBN Cocktail party in YOUR booth on Monday evening. It’s a huge deal to have a booth in Vegas; flaunt it. You should invite people even if you know they are not going to Las Vegas. Invite people you don’t even like. The point is to make sure everyone knows 1) You will be in Vegas 2) You have a booth and 3) you are hosting a party. It makes a statement.
6. SOLVE A PROBLEM, GAIN A CONTACT
You will find multiple opportunities to speak with a retailer while you are in Las Vegas. A great conversation starter with a retailer is “Name the area in your territory where you have the weakest brokerage coverage.”. Chances are that they have a good broker in your area but maybe you can refer them to another RBN broker in another market and make some referral money. Solve a problem for a retailer and you have a contact for life.
7. BE A CONNECTOR FOR PEOPLE
Seek out opportunities to connect two people while you are at RECON. Do someone a favor. Hear something in a meeting that might help someone you know? Go find them at the show and get them the info right away. Know two people that should meet each other for a specific purpose? Make an introduction. That type of relationship building goes a very long way in this business. Be a connector.
8. KNOW YOUR CALENDAR
Set your meetings in local Las Vegas time on your calendar by changing the time zone on the calendar item. Also, print a paper copy and keep it with you always. Make sure everyone involved has everyone’s cell numbers printed on the calendar invitation. That makes it easier to let people know when someone is running late or the location has changed. It is a rookie mistake to miss a meeting in Vegas because you got the time wrong but it happens to 20-year veterans who don’t have a system.
9. KNOW YOUR ‘RETAIL GATEWAY’
Most retailers coming to my state enter through Atlanta or Dallas. I pay close attention to anyone from Dallas or Atlanta because they are in the best position to tell me about new retailers or refer new business to me. Determine your ‘retail gateway’ and focus on meeting more people from that market. Do you live in Green Bay? Maybe you need to take a special interest in anyone from Chicago. Developers in your ‘gateway market’ are great sources for referrals. Locate their booths ahead of time and go see them at the show. Ask them about any projects they are planning in your area. Ask them if they need help finding a project in your area. Ask them for business.
10. DON’T FORGET, YOU ARE ALWAYS WORKING
Lastly, in Vegas you are always working. In a meeting, at a cocktail party, at a dinner party or in a club at 2:30 in the morning, you are always working. It’s ok to have fun, but being that guy that got wasted or showed up for a Tuesday morning meeting in the clothes he wore last night will haunt you for the rest of your career.
Whether this will be your first year at the ICSC RECon in Las Vegas or this will be your 20th time, we hope you were able to learn something from this post. Share your tips with us in the comments below!