February 6, 2020

JF1982: The Apartment Syndicator’s Guide to the Best Ever Conference Part 1 with Theo Hicks

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Theo shares his best tips for aspiring syndicators who are planning to attend the Best Ever Conference in Keystone, CO on February 20-22, 2020. In this episode, Theo discusses how to prepare, what to expect, and how to make the most of the conference.

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“You’re going to want to have a specifically defined outcome for attending the conference. You’re paying all this money to get a ticket, to fly out there, time away from your business, time away from the family, paying for the hotel, so you don’t want to just come in here and wing it.” – Theo Hicks

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Our fourth annual conference will be taking place February 20-22 in Keystone, CO. We’ll be covering the higher level topics that our audience has requested to hear.


Joe Fairless: There needed to be a resource on apartment syndication that not only talked about each aspect of the syndication process, but how to actually do each of the things, and go into it in detail… And we thought “Hey, why not make it free, too?” That’s why we launched Syndication School.

Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to apartmentsyndication.com, or to learn more about the Apartment Syndication School, go to syndicationschool.com, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.

Theo Hicks: Hi, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to another episode of The Syndication School series, a free resource focused on the how-to’s of apartment syndication. As always, I’m your host Theo Hicks. Each week, we air two podcast episodes, also YouTube videos, that focus on a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy. For the majority of these episodes and series, we offer some sort of free documents. These are PowerPoint presentation templates, PD, how-to guides, Excel calculator templates, things like that, that accompany the episodes in the series.

All of the previous syndication school episodes, as well as the free documents, can be found at syndicationschool.com. In this two-part series, we’re going to be talking about the Best Ever conference. So if you’re listening to this in real-time, the conference is less than one month away, in Colorado again, no longer in Denver. Now it is at a ski resort in Colorado. I thought it would be a good idea to do a Syndication School series on the apartment syndicator’s guide to the Best Ever conference. This is going to be based on a blog post that we wrote, which is the first timer’s guide to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Conference. So if you haven’t attended the conference before, or if you want to have some tips on how to approach the conference, specifically as an aspiring or a current apartment indicator, I wanted to talk about that today.

Again, this is going to be a two-part series. I’m going to go through as much as I can in this episode, and then the next episode is going to conclude the series. So the first thing I wanted to talk about is how to prepare for the Best Ever conference; most of the things will apply to everyone. I’ll talk about when they’re specific to apartment syndicators.

So the first thing that we have in this blog post is what to wear. This is a conference where you can really wear whatever you feel the most comfortable and confident in. You’re not gonna want to wear something just because you think you’re supposed to wear it, because you’re not going to be comfortable, and when you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to be able to get the most out of the conference. So this may seem like it is not important, but if you aren’t used to wearing a suit, and you wear a suit or a designer suit, you think that wouldn’t matter as much, but most likely, that’s going to have some impact on your ability to network, because you’re gonna be worried about how you look the entire time.

So if you want to wear a T-shirt and jeans, that’s not a problem. Obviously, if you want to wear a suit, that’s okay. But no matter how you dress, if you been in these conferences before, you’re gonna have on the one hand, people wearing really nice suits and the other hand, people wearing T-shirts and jeans. This includes the speakers, by the way. So as I mentioned, don’t wear a specific outfit just because you think you’re supposed to look a certain way at the conference, for real estate investors.

Again, people are gonna be wearing a wide range of different clothing because the attendees at the Best Ever conference cover a wide range of real estate investing niches. You probably don’t want to wear sweat pants or something you would work out in. That’s probably a little bit too casual. We also want to keep in mind that the conference is going to be in Colorado, so if you’re like me, and you’re used to living in Florida, make sure you bring some winter gear, make sure you bring a coat. I’m not necessarily sure if there’s gonna be any outside walking. I remember in Denver it was helpful to bring boots, because you had to walk from the hotel to the conference center. But just make sure you have the outfits that will keep you warm. So don’t just bring T-shirts, like I probably would automatically, because again, I’m used to wearing T-shirts or short-sleeve shirts in Florida.

We’re also going to have a happy hour, as well as an after-party, so you want to make sure that you’re also bringing some clothes for that as well. If you’re a dancer, make sure you bring your dancing shoes.

Then lastly, if you are interested, since this is at a resort, feel free to stay for a few days afterwards and enjoy the ski slopes, the resort, Denver or somewhere else in the general area for a vacation. If you do that either before or after the conference, make sure you’re bringing the proper clothing and gear for that. So overall, wear whatever you want, whatever you’re most comfortable in. That is going to help you set yourself up for success for the conference.

Now, what else should you bring with you to the Best Ever conference? Well, number one, you want to bring your phone obviously, as well as a charger. We’ll go into more detail on the phone aspect of it in a little bit with the Best Ever Whova app. But you’re going to want to bring your phone because of capturing people’s contact information, scheduling future meetings using the app, as I mentioned, taking pictures and posting those to the app, as well as to Facebook. Then bring your charger too, because your phone’s going to die pretty quickly if you’re using it constantly. A lot of people will actually record the different speakers, so you can use your phone for that, or you can bring a recorder for that. In the future, after the conference is over, most of the presentations are being recorded and we’ll have those videos. I’m pretty sure people that attend will have the ability to download those for free or purchase those– I’m not a 100% sure exactly how that happens. But I do know that there will be recordings.

Another tip is to bring one of those little portable chargers that you charge it in your computer or USB, and then you can just plug your phone into it and charge it that way, and not having to have access to an outlet. Because I remember the first conference– you see a lot of people that were kind of hanging out by walls because they were charging their phones or their laptops. The more time you’re spending on your phone charging it, the less time you spend on networking. If you don’t want to use your phone for recording for power conservation purposes or whatever, you can always buy a recorder to record your presentations as well.

Also, you’ll wanna bring your business cards. There’s something interesting on the app where you can just scan someone’s business card and log their contact information in the app. We’ll go into this a little bit later in this episode, or maybe in the next episode, but you don’t want to just bring a bunch of business cards and just pass them out to everyone. Or at least that’s not all you want to do. You want to also make sure that you’re having in-depth conversations with people. Again, we’ll focus on that a little bit later.

As I mentioned, a digital business card saving on the app – you can use that. You’ll also want to bring a notebook and pen to take notes. Make sure you’ve got some extra room in your luggage because there’s a lot of booths, and the booths are giving away some free stuff. So make sure you got some room in there to stuff all your free swag into there. We also do giveaways, so if you win a prize, you’re gonna want a place to put that as well.

At this point now, let’s get into some more things that are specific to apartment indicators. So you’re also gonna want to come with an outcome for attending. So out of all the different things, this is going to be the most important, because you’re going to want to have a specifically defined outcome for attending the conference. You’re paying all this money to get a ticket to fly out there, time away from your business, time away from the family, paying for the hotel… So you don’t want to just come in here and wing it. You don’t want to just show up and just see what happens. You’re going to have a specific outcome. Since you’re an apartment syndicator, depending on where you’re at in your business, you’re going to have a different outcome. So for example, let’s say you are someone who’s just starting out, maybe you’ve been listening to Syndication School since the beginning and you’ve been looking forward to the Best Ever conference for the past 12 months because you are interested in finding a business partner. Well, it’s likely that you’re going to find someone else, or multiple people are the Best Ever conference, who are in similar situations. Because there’s going to be hundreds of people at this conference.

So if your goal is to get a business partner, that is a good start, but that’s not specific enough, because you’re going to want to know exactly what you need out of the business partner. So for example, let’s say you are interested or have a background or skills in the asset management or acquisition aspect of apartment syndications, but you’ve not pulled the trigger on doing any deals because you don’t know how to find the money. You don’t have a network of high net worth individuals, you’ve reached out to family and friends, but no one’s really interested or doesn’t have the money at the moment, and the biggest pain point for you, the biggest thing holding back is private equity. Well, that would be a specific outcome for the Best Ever conference – to find a business partner who has the ability to raise capital. So with that outcome in mind, you can prepare for the conference with the focus on finding that individual. We’ll go into how to actually do that in a little bit.

Again, it could be the opposite, where you’ve got a lot of money, but you don’t know how to do syndication, so you can find someone who’s experienced in apartment syndications while you’re at the event. Or maybe you just want to learn more about a certain topic. Maybe you want to learn more about underwriting, maybe you want to learn more about asset management, maybe you want some tips on how to raise more money. So whether it’s an educational specific outcome or a business partner-specific outcome, or you’re looking for a deal, you want to know exactly what your outcome is for attending the Best Ever conference before you show up. That way, you can spend your time efficiently, and then when you leave the conference, you’ll know if you were successful or not, because if you didn’t achieve your outcome, then you weren’t successful. And if you did, then obviously you were successful. Lastly, if you want to stay there for a vacation, something else to bring would be a snowboard or skis or whatever.

Alrighty, so what else do we do in preparation for the conference? You’re going to want to download the Best Ever Whova app. So once you buy your ticket, then you can download the Whova app  in the application store on your iPhone or on your Android device. The Whova app has a lot of different functionalities. It will be something that’ll be a very powerful tool for you during the conference.

I’ve got the app open up on my phone right now, so we’ll just go through it before the conference, so this is exactly what you’d be doing for the conference. So when you open it up and you go to the home screen, it has a section for additional resources and a section for the event description near the bottom. So I’m on the iPhone; it might look a little bit different on the Android. So at the bottom you have the home and then you’ve got the agenda tab. So on the agenda tab, you’ve got the schedule for the two days; so Friday, the 21st and Saturday, the 22nd.

If you scroll down, you’ll see in order all the different panels, speakers, presentations and sessions. So it starts off with the welcome, and then we’ve got the first speaker, Whitney Sewell, talking about– it says, my first Best Ever conference, so what he’s done since then. Then you’ve got Economic Update with Glenn Mueller. Then if you click on it, it will tell you if this is something that’s focused on active or passive investing. It’ll allow you to add it to your agenda, so you’ll get notifications while at the conference that a presentation you signed up for is coming up. It’s got the speaker, so you can click on the speaker and you can read their biographical information and learn more about them, and you have the ability to send the speaker a message. So if your outcome was to learn more about, in this case, the commercial real estate economy and what it has been looking like and what the forecast is, well, you’re gonna want to meet Glenn Mueller, so you can have that as your outcome – meet and speak to Glenn Mueller.

Next, we’ve got a keynote speech, lessons learned from crowdfunding $2 billion in commercial real estate. So if your goal is to learn more about raising money, well, that’d be a great session to attend. So it’s the same thing for everything. Eventually, we’ve got a networking break, and it goes through all the different sessions for the day, which ends with the cocktail hour at night. Then you go to the next day, Saturday, the same thing, all the different sessions, panels, speakers. What’s interesting too is that you can find a lunch mate. So if you go to lunch, if you can find people to have lunch with, so again, if your outcome is specific to a certain thing, which it should be, you can find other attendees that are also focused on that same niche, so multifamily apartments, whatever. You can invite them to lunch on the app without even meeting them in person yet.

Next, you’ve got the attendees tab at the bottom. So from here, it lists out all the attendees. So you can look by categories, you can look at the people who have booths, speakers, the organizers, some VIPs, the sponsors, and then general admission. So again, for everyone who attends a conference, like you, you’ll fill out your information on the app, and you will be able to find other people who are attending the conference and you can send them messages beforehand.

For example, I’ve got a message that says, “Hey, Theo. I’d love to meet up with you. I’m also a chemical engineer by trade. I’m super excited to work with you on underwriting in Joe’s mentorship program. See you in Keystone.” So that’s one individual that I’ll be meeting up with at the conference. I’ve got other messages where someone’s invited me to a meetup group that they have. These are things that seem like they’ll occur during the networking breaks or out in the lobby of the conference. We’ve got a “How to Start and Scale a Syndication Business on a Budget” with 71 people attending. This is a meetup that I’m assuming will be occurring in some location in the lobby, and Ellie will be presenting about how to start and scale a syndication business on a budget.

So again, there’s countless different opportunities at the conference to achieve your outcome. You’ve got the speakers, then you have the ability to speak to the speakers. You’ve got the booths, you’ve got the exhibitors, you’ve got various sponsors, you’ve got these meetup groups, you’ve got the ability to actually network with people out in the lobby, you can schedule meetups, you can schedule lunches with certain individuals, whether it’s speakers or general admission. So lots of different opportunities on this app.

Next, we’ve got the community. So this is pretty cool. The community is like a forum, where people will post different questions or topics for people to post under. So for example, we’ve got two meetups. There are 38 meetups that people have scheduled for the Best Ever conference that are, again, outside of the actual scheduled sessions. So these are meetups that are created by people who are attending the conference. For example, we’ve got a meetup group for a specific area, Fort Wayne, Indiana. We’ve got a meet up for passive cashflow, we’ve got a meetup for underwriting deals, for accounting done right, single-family investing, multifamily master… So this is probably something that you’re definitely going to want to do based off of your outcome. So if your outcome is to learn more about raising money, you’re going to find a meetup that focuses on raising money.

Here’s another one… So if you want to learn how to expand your thought leadership platform, your podcast, we’ve got a podcasters meetup. If you live in a certain area and you want to learn more about the market, for example, let’s say if you live in Florida, we’ve got a Central Florida networking meetup. If you want to work out, we even got a Friday morning run that you can do.

Then after the conference, you’ll have the ability to get dinner with people, so there’s plenty of drinks and dinner meetups on here as well. Then you’ve also got different topics that you can post on it. You’ve got asset protection, we’ll be having a fireside chat on asset protection… It’s what questions– it’s actually the person who’s gonna be interviewing the panel, asking us the attendees, “What questions do you want me to ask during the panel?” So there’s those from the panels. We’ve got someone here who’s asking a question about losing money. “Any story that you can share about losing money in real estate, what went wrong?” So again, you can technically get your outcome accomplished before even attending the conference by creating a forum post on this community page.

Then the last tab is going to be your messages. So anyone who sends you a message, it’ll appear on this page, and then you can create a message by clicking at the top right. That will give you the ability to select anyone who’s signed up for the conference and email them. You can search by their name, their affiliation, their location. Or you can just scroll through and look at their businesses, what they do – are they a speaker, a sponsor, who are they? Again, if your goal is to meet a specific person or to learn a specific thing, you can get that through this app.

So again, the app is very powerful, I would definitely recommend the second you buy your ticket going on there, looking through the agenda, looking through that community page, see if you can find any meetup groups that are relevant to you, find any– after the first day, getting drinks or after the second day, getting drinks with people, meeting people for lunch, meeting people for breakfast in the morning, meeting people during the networking breaks, and then for the messages, you can meet with specific individuals that you want to reach out to, to help you accomplish your specific defined goal.

So I think it’s a good place to stop. We’ve talked about what to wear, what to bring and then we’ve gone pretty in-depth on the app. You should get an email or have been getting emails about the app as well, how to download it and a little bit of information about its functionality. But again, this is an apartment syndicator’s guide to the Best Ever conference, so any outcome that you have, for those listening, it’s going to be apartment syndication related. So when you’re on the app, when you’re looking at the agenda, and you’re looking at the attendees and looking at the community, you want to find things that are multifamily related, and that are related to raising money for multifamily deals. We’re gonna talk about underwriting, asset management, raising capital, or talking about the actual condition of a market… Those are the types of speakers, of panels, of presentations, keynotes, and community events that you’re going to want to be involved in.

Then when you’re considering reaching out to people using the messenger, you’re also going to focus on people who are actually where you want to be. So if you have never done a deal before, then you’re going to want to find people who have done deals before. If you’ve done a few deals, you’re going to find someone who’s done more deals than what you have done. Then consider just sending them a nice friendly message, pretty quick and succinct, mentioning your background, and that you’re interested in having a quick conversation with them at the conference.

So in the next episode, tomorrow, we’re going to talk about the last thing that you need to do in preparation for the conference. Then we’re going to talk about how to actually approach the conference once you’re actually there. Then we’re talking about what to do once the conference is over. Again, all from the perspective of an apartment syndicator. Until then, I recommend listening to some of the other syndication school series episodes on the How-to’s of apartment syndication, and to download the free documents that we have available. All that is on the syndicationschool.com Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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