As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, July 2008.
Most people who attend mortgage conferences, conventions and seminars plan at least to garner information from these events. Many people, however, often overlook the prime networking opportunities they offer.
But when you recognize that any chance you have to make new contacts or to get your name out there is valuable, you can then use these events to learn new information and to network for business growth.
Here are some ways that attending conferences, conventions and seminars can enhance your networking efforts.
Make new friends
Conventions, conferences and seminars provide a great opportunity to make new friends in the industry. But you need to seek them out.
If you attend a conference with friends or colleagues, be sure to distance yourself from them at the event. If you only talk with the person with whom you attend the event, you will close the door of opportunities to make new friends.
To avoid being seen as standoffish, challenge each other to a friendly competition. For example, if you are at a seminar on how to maximize the tax benefits of a mortgage, try to see who can meet the most accountants. Or challenge each other to meet the greatest number of first-time homebuyers at the seminar. By doing this, you'll ensure that you don't just mingle with people you already know.
Also, try not to sit by anyone you know. Even if you have only met people once or just met them before the conference started, don't sit with them. You can speak with anyone you've already met at a later time. On the other hand, if you sit with new people, you get a chance to meet them. Consider changing seats after designated breaks, meals, etc. This will maximize the number of people you meet at the event.
Of course, sitting near someone new won't make you friends with them unless you introduce yourself. This will require a bit more effort than merely nodding and smiling, but it will be worth it. Take your seat and immediately introduce yourself with a friendly handshake. Also, try to get a business card from each person on either side of you. You'll need it to follow up with them later.
Meet your competition
Industry events also allow you to meet your competition. This may sound counterintuitive, but getting to know your competitors can be a coup.
By meeting others in your field, you'll hear their elevator speeches. You'll also be privy to their specialties and thus will be able to distinguish yourself from them at this and future events. And that's the worst-case scenario. In best-case scenarios, you may meet a friendly competitor who happens to specialize in an area of mortgage brokering that you don't.
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