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24 January 2017

Inman Connect New York 2017

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Another Inman Connect has come and gone, and as I’ve grown to expect from Brad Inman and team, it delivered fantastic content as only a world-class conference is able to do. I was honored to serve as an Inman Ambassador for the fifth straight time, giving me a front row seat to all of the action.

Aside from members of the BHGRE® corporate team, it was a pleasure to see many of our Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate affiliates at the conference; the number continuing to increase year after year.

I decided that instead of just sharing my thoughts (which are at the end of this post), I wanted to speak to affiliates that attended Inman Connect and ask what resonated with THEM during their week in New York City.

The hot trends this year included virtual reality, increased automation and artificial intelligence. When it came to automation, Leighton Dees, Chairman & CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations was impressed by Zillow, who has come to an agreement with Facebook to create a platform to automate Facebook advertising for agents.

Virtual reality was on display at CEO Connect, an exclusive event held this year at the headquarters of The New York Times. “The New York Times is leading the way in virtual reality and it was inspiring to see the potential for VR and its use within the real estate industry,” said Chastity Davenport, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Southern Branch. “I can’t wait to implement this technology and be on the cutting edge in my market.”

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“Virtual reality has the potential to be integrated into many parts of the agent/customer relationship…before, during, and after the closing,” explained Dees. He suggested that we could see closings with out of town buyers held live via VR, fully virtual networking events and upgrading how follow up calls and client services are conducted. “Imagine the ability to complete five ‘pop-by’ client visits in 30 minutes or less without leaving the office… or your living room.”

However, even with the continued advances in technology, real estate remains a people business. Agents wishing to be more successful need to make sure they are an expert on their marketplace. “One term that I latched onto was ‘hyperlocal’” noted Tyler Brenner, Marketing Director at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers. “Connect with your market on a deeper level than simply having community pages on your website. Encourage agents to volunteer and get involved with their city or county, however that might be. It is important to know EVERYTHING that’s going on in your area and be that expert.”

Here are 5 “quick hit” takeaways that resonated with me during the week in NYC:

1) According to Scott Shapiro at Facebook, people spend five times longer looking at video than static content across Facebook & Instagram. If you’re still holding out and not using video in your business, you should remedy this immediately.

2) Do you ever watch videos on your phone with the sound off? Others do too. Enter Rev.com, which will close caption your video for $1/minute. Perfect for your monthly market updates or open house details.

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3) The most inspiring speaker of the week was Diana Nyad, who at age 64 and on her fifth attempt, swam from Cuba to Florida. My favorite quote – “Close your eyes, close your fist, and do it so you can say ‘I couldn’t have done it a fingernail faster.’”

4) Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, had an important message about innovation while speaking at CEO Connect. “Don’t get defensive about ‘pioneers’ like Opendoor. Incorporate their best practices into your own brokerage.”

5) Anyone who has seen me speak has probably heard me speak about Kaizen, a management philosophy that preaches continuous incremental improvement. This year, the ICNY audience was introduced to the Omotenashi mindset, which emphasizes the spirit of service and selfless hospitality (think of the relationship between host and guest). As the lines between relationships and “automationships” continue to blur, it’s a wise idea for business people to continue to strive to provide an exemplary experience for their clients and the referrals that will come from those clients.

The goal of Inman Connect is to foster an environment of learning, sharing and networking, a huge part of the “secret sauce” of these events. Miguel Berger, President of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Tech Valley explained; “the event makes you ‘Stretch your mind’. You get to think outside the box and get out of your comfort zone, while hearing from the most powerful people in the industry. The connections you make in the event are priceless.”

I hope to see many of you at Fusion 2017 next month in Las Vegas and at Inman Connect San Francisco this August.

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