February 6, 2020

JF1983: The Apartment Syndicator’s Guide to the Best Ever Conference Part 2 with Theo Hicks


Theo concludes this series with his final tips for aspiring syndicators who are planning to attend the Best Ever Conference in Keystone, CO on February 20-22, 2020. You know what to bring, what to wear, and have defined an outcome… now what? Theo explains how to set your schedule and get quality face to face time with high-demand speakers.

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“You’re going to want to implement any lessons you learned from the Best Ever Conference immediately because that’s when you’re going to have the most motivation.” – Theo Hicks

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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 apartment syndication. As always, I’m your host, Theo Hicks. Each week, we air two podcast episodes that focus on a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy. For the majority of these episodes, sometimes they’re series, we offer a free resource. These are free PDF how-to guides, Excel template calculators, PowerPoint presentation templates, things that will help you in your apartment syndication journey. All of the previous Syndication School episodes, as well as these free documents, are available at syndicationschool.com.

Well, this is part two of a two-part series entitled, “Apartment Syndicator’s Guide to the Best Ever Conference.” So I recommend checking out part one, which was yesterday. Or if you’re listening to this in the future, the episode directly before this one. In that episode, we focused on how to prepare for the Best Ever conference. So we talked about what to wear, what to bring. Then we focused on making sure you have a defined outcome for attending the meeting so that when you’re there, you can make sure you’re spending your time efficiently. Then we went pretty in-depth into the Whova app that you can download, and definitely going to want to take advantage of before attending the conference and while at the conference. So I talked about some of the things you can do with it before you’re at the conference.

We’re going to talk about a little bit more today about how you can use it during and after the conference. But before we move on to the second aspect of this guide, I wanted to finish up the preparation section, which is to read up on the speakers. So you can do this on the app, or you can do it on the website. So you can go to bec20.com, and then go to the Speakers tab, and it will go through a list of all of the speakers who are presenting at the conference. Then for each of those different speakers, you can click on their picture on their name, and it will give you some biographical information about them. So for example, the first speaker on the list is Jilliene Helman, who is the CEO of RealtyMogul. It says, Jilliene is the founder and CEO of RealtyMogul, a private equity firm focused on investing in commercial real estate. In this capacity, Miss Helman has invested in over $2 billion worth of real estate and is a pioneer in real estate crowdfunding. She’s a certified wealth strategist and holds FINRA Series 24, 7 and 36 licenses; recently named FinTech Woman of the Year, Jilliene has been featured in several media outlets, including CNBC, The New York Times, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Bloomberg. So, essentially the exact same thing for every single speaker.

So depending on what your specific outcome is for the conference, it may include either attending the presentation of a specific speaker, or it may involve actually speaking with, one-on-one, with a speaker. So again, this is also available in the Whova app. What’s nice about the Whova app is that you can go to the attendees, you can click on the speakers, we can go ahead and find Jilliene on here. We can click on her name, and then it will actually tell me when she is giving her presentation, what time, what day and then what it will be on. So I click on Jilliene Helman, it says she’s on a panel, The Age of Data. She’s on that panel with three other individuals.

I could also do the same thing on the website. So on the website, I could go to the schedule, and then I can scroll down until I find the day that she is speaking. I already know that it’s on the 20th, I know it’s on The Age of Data. So we’ve got Panel: The Age of Data. We’ve got Jilliene Helman, Jeff Adler, Michael Cohen, and Samuel Viscovich. I click on it, and it gives me a little bit more information on the presentation.

Now, if you’re interested in learning more about The Age of Data – maybe that’s one of your outcomes, is to learn how to automate your business more, how to get more out of using the various datasets that are available out there, then that’s definitely going to be a presentation that you want to go to.

Then you’re also going to want to actually attempt to speak with that person while you’re at the conference. So before you go to the conference, you want to know exactly what speakers you want to see. That involves investigating each of the speakers. So you go to the Whova app or visit our site, find them, see what they do, see what panel they’re on, and then maybe narrow it down to a handful of speakers you want to meet, and then go to their websites, go to their LinkedIn pages and do a little bit more investigations on them, on their background… Because you’re going to want to have a written list of questions that you want to ask them one on one before you’re attending the conference.

A great way to stand out in their mind, and to have them interested in talking to you, is to bring up some piece of information, some personal information that you would not have known without researching them. So something that you found while you were looking at their LinkedIn page or their Facebook page or the website that is relevant to you, and bring that up during the conversation. You’ll stand out and then you can have some common ground and then show that you’re prepared and then go through some of your questions.

Obviously, don’t ask all the questions. Obviously, don’t ask a question that they answered during their presentation. I’ll go into exactly how to approach them, but for now, this is just a preparation. So find the speakers that you want to meet with while you’re at the conference by looking at the different presentations that they’re are doing, what they do, do some extra research on them online, and then come up with some questions to ask them when you get to speak to them, one-on-one in person at the conference. Then how to approach that one-on-one conversation – we’ll get into it in the next section, because now moving on to what to actually do while you are at the conference.

The three main things that you’ll be doing at the Best Ever conference is one, you’ll be listening to speakers. Number two, you’ll be browsing the various exhibitor sponsor booths. Then three, you’re gonna be networking with people who are there, whether it’s the speakers or it’s with the attendees. Now, all three of these are going to be important, but depending on what your specific outcome is, one or two might be more important than the others. So obviously, when it comes to the speakers, I mentioned before in preparation you’ve already researched the speakers, you already know exactly what talks, what presentations you want to attend. Of those speakers, you know exactly which one do you want to talk to and you have your list of questions.

At this point, you should have all the different talks bucketed into one of three categories. So these are one that you must attend, these are ones that you have to attend in order to accomplish your goal. Number two are the ones that you’d like to attend if you have time, and then number three are the ones you don’t need to attend. So you’ve got your schedule set at this point, so you know that you need to go to the must-attend sessions, and then depending on how things go, you might be able to attend some of or all of the sessions you’d like to attend. Then whenever there’s a session that you don’t need to attend, you know that you can use that time to focus on the other two, which are the booths and then networking.

So something else you can also do is take a look at the exhibitors. Back to our Best Ever app – go to the attendees, you’ve got the exhibitors; there are 10 people, and you can go through and see all the different exhibitors. So we’ve got GigaFly, we’ve got Axiom Workforce, we’ve got Costar, we’ve got RealtyMogul… So of all those exhibitor booths, you’re going to want to check out what those companies do, what type of services they provide and see if going to that booth and asking them questions, learning about their services will help you with your specifically defined outcome for the conference.

Then from there, again, if you’ve got part of your schedule set with the must-attend apartment syndicator related presentations, then now you know, “Okay, well during the ones that I don’t need to attend, or I don’t want to attend at all, I’m going to go to these three booths during one of the networking breaks. I’m gonna hit all three of those booths during one of the networking breaks. I’m gonna hit all three booths during two of the talks I don’t need to go to.” Now you’ve got the exhibitors you want to go talk to and you’ve got that scheduled. Then again, make sure you’re prepared with the questions you want to ask them so that you can use your time efficiently.

Now that you’ve got those two parts of your schedule set – the presentations you’re going to attend and who you’re going to speak to from the exhibitor booths, the rest of the time can be spent networking with speakers and other attendees. So in preparation, you have your list of questions for the speakers at these must-attend presentations. You’re also likely going to have other questions that come up during the presentation, as well as questions you can remove because they were answered during the presentation. At some point during the conference, you’re going to want to talk to them.

So here’s an inside tip. Let’s say you want to talk to Frank, Joe’s business partner, about underwriting. You’re sitting there, you’ve got lots of questions, and then you tell yourself, “Okay. Well, once Frank is done giving this presentation, afterwards I’m gonna go up and talk to him.” He had his presentation, you’ve crossed off maybe half your questions because Frank answered them, and then you added maybe five more questions to ask him about underwriting or whatever. And you said, “Okay, I’ve got my top questions that I want to ask him about underwriting. ” Then you sit back, he gives this presentation, it’s over. You get up and you wait in line for half an hour to talk to Frank. That’s one way to go about doing it.

But an insider tip for how to talk to Frank or any speaker much easier is to not talk to them immediately after their presentation. That’s probably going to be the hardest way to talk to them. Then the second hardest would probably be speaking to them either at some point after their presentation, so later that day, because people are probably thinking the same thing like, “Oh, well, I’m not going to talk to him directly afterwards, because that’s when everyone’s gonna want to talk to him. So I’m gonna wait an hour, then I’m gonna talk to him.” Many people are probably thinking that. So something that’s even better is to talk to them before they even give their presentation, because that is probably when the least amount of people are going to be talking to them. Because not every single person is going to be as prepared as you.

Not every single person is gonna have gone through the list of speakers, know exactly who they want to talk to, or exactly what they want to say that person, and then think, “Okay, well, I’m gonna talk to them before. Maybe if they give a presentation day two, I’m gonna talk to them in the morning of day one.”

Now if you’re really good, the best way would be to figure out a way to meet with them during lunch, the breakfast period or the after-party, or during breakfast & lunch, or afterward the next day. The best would be getting dinner with them before the after-party. Because I remember during the first Best Ever conference – now, there weren’t as many people at that first one, but I was able to get dinner with– I think it was me and three of the speakers. So it was me, a newbie investor, with three super experienced investors. One of them had raised a billion dollars for their deals, or raised four billion dollars for the deals. Another guy had done a bunch of single-family homes and now these mobile homes. The other one is a full-time passive investor.

So the best way to get all of your questions answered and more is to figure out a way to get dinner with them. I’m not exactly sure how insane this conference is going to be, I’m not sure if the speakers are going to have their dinners pre-planned and they’ll get dinner together… But if you hang out at the end of the day and don’t leave immediately, then you see speakers talking, float out over there and start talking to them at that point and then ask them, “Hey, what are you guys doing for dinner?” and see if you can tag along. That’d be the best approach. So you’ve got your top few speakers you want to meet with. Sure you can ask them questions during the conference, you can wait in line like everyone else, or even attempt to do the Best Ever approach and try to get lunch or dinner with them for a more intimate one-on-one setting.

So you’ve got the speakers, and you’ve also got the attendees, which are gonna be a little bit easier to access; maybe a little bit harder to find exactly who is the best attendee to talk to. Again, there is the search function on the app where you can look up people in the general admission, but there are 265 people, so you’re going to go through all those different profiles to see who’s the best people to talk to. But do the best research that you can. It’s good to just be random and meet random people but go in there with a plan. Have a few attendees that you want to speak with, message them on the app beforehand, maybe say, “Hey, do you want to meet up for coffee before?” or, “Do you want to just make sure that we see each other during one of the networking events?” Or you can just approach them and say, “Hey, I saw your profile on here and wanted to learn more about you and ask you some questions.”

If your outcome is finding an apartment syndication partner, the people who are most likely to partner with you are going to be other attendees who have the same goals as you; the same goal of finding a partnership. So go on the app beforehand and maybe post a forum about what you’re looking for at the conference, and then see who replies. Go on there and look for posts of people who are a similar background to you, are in a similar niche as you and who are apartment syndicators, and see if you can meet with them.

Now, when it comes to the relationship– so I talked about in part one that you want to bring business cards, but you don’t want to just hand out as many business cards as possible. You don’t want to just do drive-by’s and [unintelligible [00:15:56].01] your business cards, going up to groups and saying, “Hi, I’m Theo. Here’s my business card. Alright, catch you later.” That’s not the best approach to achieving your outcome… Unless your outcome is to hand out 100 business cards, which again, isn’t the best approach to the conference.

So instead of doing that, the best ever approach is going to be focusing on creating one deep relationship each day. So you’ve got two days, so one outcome you can have is to form two deep relationships with people who are potential apartment syndication partners or potential apartment syndication mentors, or employees, depending on where you’re at in your career, during the entire conference.

So these are the people that you are spending time with in the networking sessions, at the after-party, during dinner, during lunch, during breakfast. You’re sitting with them at the conference. Just form a relationship that’s deeper than just surface level with one new person per day. That doesn’t guarantee that they’re gonna become your partner, your mentor, that you’re gonna get some financial benefit out of the partnership, but you’re setting yourself up for success, because you’re much more likely to have a long-term relationship with someone that you are meeting with, talking with, learning about on a deeper level, than you would be by just handing out business cards or just talking to people for a little bit, very surface level and then moving on.

So once you find that one person that you resonate with, that is complementary to what you’re looking for, or someone that you could be a potential mentor, I highly recommend attempting to continue to form that relationship throughout the rest of the day, and then focus on another person the next day. Because one deep relationship is much better than speaking with ten people for a few minutes and then handing them a business card. I know for me, my first conference, I organically, naturally followed this approach and was able to form some very deep relationships. I’m looking forward to meeting these people again when I come to the conference.

So next, we have the Whova app. I talked about how to use the Whova app in preparation, a little bit about how to use it while you’re there, but just a quick list of all the different functions of the Whova app. So you can create a profile so other attendees can learn more about you. You can view the entire agenda for the conference. You will receive notifications when a new session begins or when a session you’ve scheduled begins. So once they’ve given their presentations, whoever is present on the screen, it will be uploaded to the Whova app under their session on the agenda. You can download that into your computer and see that afterward. So that in combination with any recordings you have is very powerful.

You can click on their biography and learn more about them, and you can leave comments on the session or on their page about what you learned, questions you have. You can browse the list of conference attendees, and you can send and receive messages from the attendees as well as the speakers and the exhibitors. You can create a post or browse existing posts in the community forums – we’ve talked about that already. You can browse open job listings, so people that are looking to hire can post job listings on the Whova app, and you can apply for those jobs. Or you can post your own listing. Post pictures, participate in giveaways and you can earn points, and there’s much more.  So I recommend, before you’re at the conference – I’ve already talked about this – download the app, figure out how to use it, and then also learn how to use it while you’re actually at the conference.

Then the last thing would be to not leave until Sunday. So if possible, stay for the entire duration of the conference. Most people fly in Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and then they will fly out Sunday night or later so that you can maximize your networking. So the formal conference is over, but you can still get dinner with someone that night without having to fly out that night and go home right away. You can have a whole extra five, six, seven hours of networking by flying out on Sunday.

Then lastly, so the conference is over, what do you do afterward, what are some of the best ever practices for post-conference? I guess the first thing would be to determine if you’ve achieved your apartment syndication goal. Hopefully, you did. If you didn’t, hopefully, you can attempt to accomplish it afterward by following up with certain people that you’ve met at the conference, that you weren’t able to meet at the conference. So let’s say that there’s a speaker you wanted to talk to, but you never had a chance to– well, you still have the app. You can still message them and schedule a phone call, have them on your podcast to get some of your questions answered, or hopefully accomplish your goal. But regardless, you’re going to follow up with really anyone you met at the conference, at a more than surface level. Especially the people that you’ve formed a deep relationship with. So it could be that Monday after the conference or sometime during that week after the conference, follow up with these new people that you met. The sooner you follow up, the better, because it’ll increase your credibility in their mind. Plus the content from whatever you guys talked about will be top of mind.

So a good strategy would be to go to their LinkedIn page– unless you got their phone number or their email… Go to their LinkedIn page and send a follow-up message. In this message, include a piece of information that was brought up during the conversation. It can be like a joke, something funny that happened, it could be personal information, it could be some lessons that you learned from the conversation. Then also try to immediately add value to their business. So when you spoke to them in person, you had an outcome for the conference. Hopefully, they also had an outcome of the conference. So what was that outcome for the conference? Is there a way that you can help them achieve that outcome if they didn’t achieve it, or to build on the outcome if they did achieve it at the conference. Offer to add value in some way. So if they mentioned that they were looking for a partner – well, either you can say, “I might be interested in partnering with you” or “I know someone else who is interested in partnering with you. Let me send you his contact information.” Proactively do this; add value to their business. Then for the people that you form a deeper relationship with, you will likely have their phone number or email, so you can do the same thing in that form instead.

Now if you met through the conference and you made some commitment with them – you planned on sending them something, sending them your contact information, sending them someone else’s contact information, a book recommendation, going on their podcast, bringing them on your podcast, any sort of commitment whatsoever – make sure, number one, you’re recording that either in your notepad, or you can record it in the Whova app, but make sure you’re following up on those things are right away. Then obviously, you’re gonna want to implement any lessons you learned from the best ever conference immediately, because that’s when you’re gonna have the most motivation. So if your outcome was to learn how to do some direct mailing campaign, then make sure you do the direct mailing campaign that we could get back to start that pattern.

Then lastly, take advantage of any discounts that are offered for future conferences. So last year or two years ago – I’m not exactly sure if we still do this, but I’m pretty sure that we do – if you buy your ticket within a certain timeframe after the conference and you attended the conference, you get it at a significant discount. So if you got a lot out of the conference this year, and you plan to come back next year, you might as well buy your ticket right away, because that’s when it will be the most inexpensive.

So that is the apartment syndicator’s guide to the Best Ever conference. You got a lot of these things that can be applied to really any type of investor, any type of real estate professional. I tried to throw in some apartment syndication specific examples, but in reality, this is the approach that can be used at any conference. Maybe minus the Whova app. But I would say that the most important things to do are, number one, make sure you’re prepared with your specific outcome for attending, and the based on the outcome, determine what speakers, presentations you must attend, what booths you must attend, and then what speakers and then what general admission attendees you need to speak with in order to accomplish that goal. I would learn how to use the Whova app, I would also make sure you’re focusing on building one or a few deep relationships each day, and then make sure you’re following up with whatever you committed to doing after the conference and then implementing any lessons you learned immediately that Monday or Tuesday, because that is when you’re going to have the most motivation.

So if you want the written version of what I talked about today– it’s called, “The First Timer’s Guide to the Best Real Estate Investing Ever Conference.” Then the information on the speakers, the schedule, buying a ticket, if you haven’t bought a ticket already, that’s bec20.com. Then the Whova app is just W-H-O-V-A on the App Store. If you buy a ticket, you should be getting an email with instructions on how to download and log in to the Whova app.

That concludes the series on the apartment syndicator’s guide to the Best Ever Conference. In the meantime, until the conference, and until next week’s syndication school, make sure you check out some of the other episodes we have, as well as download some of our free documents at syndicationschool.com. Thank you for listening. I look forward to seeing all of you at the conference. I will talk to you soon.

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