Thursday, July 5, 2007

How to Get the Most Out of a Real Estate Seminar

Q: What are the two things that you get from a real estate seminar (or any seminar)?

A: Information and contacts.

How do you maximize the information you receive from the seminar?

Listen and take notes.

By listening, I don't just mean hearing what the speaker says. I mean pay attention, think about what the speaker says. Resist the temptation to say "I know that already" or "that's not right." Both of those mental statements shut your brain down. Even if you've heard something several times, think about it. Something new might occur to you or you might be in a different mental place than you were the last time you heard it. Also, you can't tell the validity of a statement until you hear it, think about it and evaluate it. You can't do that if you reject it before you hear it.

Take plenty of notes. I always bring two notebooks (computer and paper). If I can find a spot near a wall with power, I set up the computer. Otherwise, I make due with the paper notebook (I type faster and with less thought than I write). If they have handouts, glance through them before the presenter speaks and look to see if they are copies of the PowerPoint or white board, etc. If they are, follow along with the handout and reference it in your notes. That way you don't waste time writing what's already written.

Don't try to write every word that comes out of the speaker's mouth. Think about what the speaker is saying and write what it means to you. This does two things for you. It makes you think about and process what the speaker is saying and it makes it easier for you to remember what you learned when you read your notes. If you reread your notes. Most people never reread their notes. That's OK. The process of writing the notes plants the information more firmly in your mind that just listening.

There is a danger to putting your own words on the information you get: you might get it wrong. That's why it is always good to swap notes with someone else that went to the seminar and read them. For one thing, if they have something that you missed, you can add it to your notes. If they have a different take on what the presenter said, you can discuss it and figure out just what the real information is.

How do you get as many contacts as possible at a seminar?

Bring lots of business cards and meet as many people as possible.

You should always have a pocket full of your cards at the beginning of the day of a seminar and you should have a pocket full of other people's cards at the end of the day. However, it isn't quantity that you need it is quality. If you end up with a pile of cards and you look through them and can't figure out who they are or why you have their card, it does you no good. After you are done talking to the person or group that you swapped cards with, write the date, time and a little bit about what they do that can help you in your business on the back of their card. That way the card will still mean something a week after the seminar.

How do you greet people you meet at a seminar?

Practice your "elevator speech." Your elevator speech is a 15 second speech where you say who you are and what you do. Here's an example: "Hi, I'm Jeff Miller. I buy and sell high end properties and I run a list for real estate seminars." That's it. It's simple and concise. They are interested in meeting someone who buys and sells high end real estate or who runs a list of real estate seminars or they aren't. If they are interested, I try to find out who they are and what they do (and why they are interested in what I do). Am I afraid of rejection? Why should I be? They aren't saying that they have no interest in Jeff Miller, they are saying that they have no interest in high end properties or real estate seminar lists. In my mind, I thank them for letting me cut loose and talk to someone else who might be interested.

After you have given your elevator speech (and, hopefully, heard theirs), ask questions and listen. Find out why they are interested in and what they need. Don't worry about getting your information in. If they are experienced, they will be asking questions and listening too. If they aren't experienced, you can always let them know how you can help them with a particular challenge that they mention.

Where can you meet people at a seminar?

Unless you roll in late, you are probably standing in a crowd waiting for the doors to open. It's a crowd. Of people.

When you get in the room of the seminar, before the seminar, you are in a room, a crowded room. It's a crowd. Of people.

When you sit down, look left, right, ahead of you and behind you. You should see people. If you don't, move.

When you are working your way to your spot in the middle of the row, you are walking past people.

I might seem a little flip with the above examples but they are true. Also, you might be wondering (in a snarky tone): "So there's a crowd. Of people. How do I meet them?"

Well, wise guy, pick one person at random (or whoever is closest) and say: "Hi, I'm Jeff Miller. I buy and sell high end properties and I run a list for real estate seminars." Don't put a lot of thought into who to meet because you won't know who they are until after you've met them.

It really is that simple. You'll believe it once you've done it a few times.

Also, there is usually a lunch break or it ends right before dinner. Either pick someone who you want to learn more about or pick someone who you haven't met yet. How do you meet them? You say: "Hi, I'm Jeff Miller. I buy and sell high end properties and I run a list for real estate seminars." Then say where you're headed for lunch or dinner and ask if they would like to join you.

Remember they are all there looking to learn more about real estate (or whatever the seminar is about). You already share one interested with them or one of you is in the wrong place.