I am out and about all over the planet doing mostly all things #CRE and #Tech. And with that, I attend many many conferences. For the most part, they are all well-intentioned and let me state this upfront, I have never had any desire to step into the role of Conference Organizer. If you have been around me for any length of time I’m sure I have voiced how I do appreciate all the time and effort it takes to put these things on.
I am also often asked to be involved in helping create content for most of the conferences I attend. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do and like anything else sometimes it’s hit or miss whether the month spent before putting just one panel together will inform entertain and educate. You are only as good as your worst panelist. And you know who you are!
For a bit of context and in no way shilling for link clicks here are a few of my past “observations and opinions” relating to the world that is #CRE and #Tech.
And with that let’s get to the only reason you clicked on here in the first place. You want the dirt, you want the real-world tips and no bullshit view of how to navigate and gain real value for your time effort and money from these so-called WORLDS BIGGEST AND GREATEST EVER, UGE #CRE and #Tech Conferences.
Oh and of course some of these may piss off a few people and that’s the entire point is it not!
The Duke Provides!
-Let’s start out with you, yes you. This is me being practical. You need a plan. It’s amazing to me how many people do not in any way have a structured plan. This goes back to my ICSC days. ICSC has it down. It’s basically a pitch conference. You show up and pitch. And to do that most of if not all of the people there set up appointments sometimes months in advance and use the conference map like it’s a source to find treasure, which of course it is. Have a PLAN! Start a month out and find out who is attending. Email them, call them, get a soft intro to them. The point is to make an effort to get face to face.
-SideBar: On the phone, with two companies this week and we went through an entire speaker list for an upcoming conference. The people I knew or had a connection with I sent intro emails out the same day. Most responded the same day and what do you think they said. “Hey, thanks for reaching out, I would love to meet up. Please find me or text me to connect up.” Boom, four face to face meetings set up just that quick. BTW the companies I am helping have Brokers as founders, so they have that mentality. #Justsayin.
-Should you have almost every hour of the two days before and the days of the conference mapped out. Hell, why not? How much more value will you create for yourself? You don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t work that way, fine, waste your time not mine.
-Here is one of my personal pet peeves. Stay off the fucking phone. You are out amongst human beings. And when you are on the phone you are being as rude as fuck. If you want to do phone calls fucking leave and go to the hotel and chat your ass off. Oh, it’s your phone and your conference so you will do what you want? I have seen people on stage checking their phones. The moderator should just stop and say, sorry are we boring you? And then ask them to get the fuck off the stage. At the very least put it on vibrate. Yes, we all text each other to meet up, I get that. Maybe never touch your phone and just engage and communicate with people. They might freak out a bit and remember you for doing just that.
-Exhibiting needs to be where everyone walks through, not stuck in some corner. Put it next to or in the middle of the food. Everyone goes for free food. They will have no choice but to stumble over the booths and companies PAYING the freight for everyone there. If you have a booth act like you at least want to be there. If you don’t want to be there, fucking leave. Oh wait, I know you are waiting for the CIO of Brookfield to randomly wander up and hear your pitch and exclaim. “OMG, how have we functioned without this product all these years? We must have it.” And then you nod your head and text your boss that you are the greatest salesperson ever and you need a raise now or you’re bailing. The reality is fucking hustle. Hustle and more hustle. Always has been always will be. Shame the shamers by doing just that.
-Keep the networking and panels completely separate. You want me to be so quiet I can hear a pin drop. NOPE, I’m here to network my ass off. You are getting paid to put people on the panels, I’m NOT getting paid to listen to them. Now, if you want to pay me to listen. I’m open to a number. Let’s talk! Otherwise, be better at your job. I do however respect the people on the panels and the people there to listen and learn. So, don’t put everyone in the SAME room. It never works.
-Back to connecting up for a minute. Don’t ping me the day before the conference and say “hey, I just landed, are you around, do you have time to grab a quick coffee and chat?” The answer will be no, wait it will be fuck no. There are maybe five people in this world I will drop most everything I have planned to “grab a coffee and chat with.” Respect peoples time. Your time is valuable as is everyone else. Did I not mention a thought out plan weeks in advance.
-To add on to the theme, don’t ask me if I can just wing it an hour before the end of the day and come out to dinner with you and a few people. Most of these events have scheduled speaker dinners. Most if not all also have companies that again plan months ahead and pay ridiculous sums to reserve special rooms and or bars to “entertain”, clients and guests. If I have committed to them ahead of time, I’m not being rude or an asshole for not going out with you, I’m respecting the people I have already committed to. Disclosure: Some who have paid to make sure I got there in the first place.
-Now to my favorite subject, drinks and the effects thereof. Well, what needs to be said here, nothing probably and then again everything. My personal exploits have unfortunately been laid bare for most all to see. Yes, I am going to do Vodka shots in Helsinki this fall and jump into the Baltic Sea. A personal note: Hey Ivan, we do not need to pre-drink to then go day drinking before we go to the bar and do shots. I’m just saying, I’m getting older I need to pace myself. Your message “we are going to get shitfaced,” was well-received but maybe we need to pump the brakes a bit my friend. Russians, they are fun people to hang with. Beware of the vodka, it’s smooooth. But we have all seen it. Too much and too far. Yes, everyone remembers, and it says what to the world? Your choice, not mine.
-Let me start this thread before the conferences even start. The bitching about how many women are or are not on panels. It’s a no-win, no matter what. And the fucking whining along with the whining. Twitter gets all nasty. They just sit there and count how many. And then, let loose. How about we just listen to the humans, regardless of gender, who have the most knowledge (or paid to be there) say their piece? (Name the last person who had the guts to call this out in public!) “If you can’t take the hits don’t stand up on the soapbox.” -Duke Long
I’d say that’s as good of a place to stop as any.
So, The Conference Season Is Upon Us.
The Duke Provides!
+1 Good Luck, You Will Need It!
+1+1 Power Tip: Hydrate!