December 22, 2021
Joe Fairless

JF2668: 3 Ways to Grow Your Business at a Networking Event with Ben Lapidus


Ben Lapidus is the host and founder of the Best Ever Conference and has extensive experience in creating and overseeing networking events. In this episode, Ben shares how to maximize your experience at these events to help build new relationships, educate yourself, and ultimately grow your business.

Join us for this year’s Best Ever Conference in Aurora, Colorado from February 24th-26th: www.besteverconference.com

Ben Lapidus Real Estate Background

  • Chief Financial Officer for Spartan Investment Group LLC,
  • Portfolio: 51 operation, $100M AUM 
  • Founder and host of the national Best Ever Real Estate Investing Conference and managing partner of Indigo Ownerships LLC
  • Say hi to him at www.spartan-investors.com

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TRANSCRIPTION

Slocomb Reed: Best Ever listeners, welcome to The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Slocomb Reed. This is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. Today we have Ben Lapidus with us again. Ben, how are you doing?

Ben Lapidus: Doing well, Slocomb. Thanks for having me.

Slocomb Reed: You all just recently heard about the success that he is having with Spartan Investment Group LLC, and the self-storage that they’re developing, and the other deals they have going on. He is also the founder and host of the national Best Ever Real Estate Investing Conference. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Ben, I’m going to translate my own experience and hope it goes with a lot of our Best Ever listeners. I’m attending the Best Ever Conference in person myself for the first time this year. I attended virtually last year and got a lot of great info. But you know, sitting at home with my headphones and my laptop, and my toddler running around, is a very different experience. Help me understand, Ben, this is my first Best Ever Conference attending in person. The first question, I’m registered, I’m checked in, I have my hotel room, I want to dive in… What’s the first thing that I should do?

Ben Lapidus: The first thing that you should do is you should identify your primary goal of attending. If your primary goal of attending is to identify a new passive investment to place, because that’s what your aim is – you’re not an active operator; you’re a pilot, an attorney, a lawyer, you’re looking for places to place your capital that you’re earning in your career into syndications, you’re looking for more groups like that, or to engage with the groups that you’ve already invested with, meet them once a year, the Best Ever Conference is a great place for that. There are dozens of high-quality operators that sponsor and attend the event that are friends of the Best Ever Conference. If you’re…

Slocomb Reed: What’s the best way for me to get myself in front of those operators?

Ben Lapidus: Just attend. If you’re at the conference, you will identify them by sitting down at the lunch table, there’s going to be somebody there that is an owner-operator. By going to the sponsor booths, you’ll walk up and down the aisles, and you’ll see dozens of those options.

We have a pitch event for passive investors to see a dozen or so of our owner-operator groups that have opportunities to invest into their deals. Groups like Spartan or Ashcroft. There are dozens of them that are in attendance, I want to say three or four dozen. Some of them highlight themselves on stage, some of them highlight themselves in the sponsorship area, some of them highlight themselves in the pitch event. There are dozens of operators. It is a conference for real estate syndicators to attend. So if you’re a passive investor, which about a third of our audience is, then you’re also going to be in a room with a large amount of nationwide syndication real estate firms.

Slocomb Reed: What if I am an aspiring syndicator, I own some rentals already, and I’m thinking about explosive growth in my own business?

Ben Lapidus: Again, back to what is your primary goal? Are you there to identify what is the asset class that you would like to invest your focus and time into? Are you there to find a business partner who can complement your skill sets? You’ve already got your team and you’ve already got your assets, so you’re there to figure out your winning acquisition strategy or your winning capitalization strategy that’s been limiting your ability to take down your first deal, or to scale a preexisting portfolio. So identifying what your primary goal is will help you figure out an agenda for yourself. What sessions do I want to attend, while allowing myself the freedom to network and enjoy the overall experience? There’s not a single-track way to attend the event, so identifying your goal in attendance is essential and primary.

Break: [00:04:42][00:06:21]

Slocomb Reed: Tell me, Ben, again, you’re talking directly to me and hopefully also a lot of our Best Ever listeners who have either been there several times or are planning to attend for the first time this year. These mini masterminds, I’ve read the blurb, but how is this going to work? What’s the deal with mini masterminds?

Ben Lapidus: We have a team of staff members who offer a white glove concierge experience, give you a call, get to know you one on one, and then identify a group of people that could be a good fit for you. We bring people together in a virtual space, one of our staff members attends and launches the first interaction of the mini mastermind. From there, it’s kind of for the individuals inside of that group to take it and run with it leading up to the conference. The intent is to have more interaction than just this one weekend so that you can maximize the impact of your time while you’re in attendance. If you have a group of six to eight people who have gotten to know you over the last couple of months, every couple of weeks interacting with them, you’re not only there in attendance for yourself, but you’ve got six to eight cheerleaders who are also looking out for you to identify that one nugget of wisdom, that one relationship, that one contact that can impact your life forever, that can impact your business. The idea is to create a group of people that can be a home base when you’re at the event because 1000 really successful people can be intimidating, but 1000 really successful people where you’ve got six to eight peers who you know, trust, and have already been vulnerable with, who you can kind of come back to as a sounding board for the experience, and who can also be your cheerleader and identifying opportunities for you as their networking. That’s a home base that we’re trying to create for all of our attendees.

Slocomb Reed: That is awesome. Ben, I don’t want to ask who your favorite speakers are going to be. But can you give me a couple of three speakers that you think may surprise people with their insight or with their subject matter?

Ben Lapidus: Some of the speakers that I’m personally interested in… Remember, I say this all the time, I basically built this event for me. I was an intermediate real estate investor, not advanced, not a beginner, and I didn’t want to be told one way to skin a cat at one of these “I’ll show you how to get rich conferences” which have value. I wanted diversity of thought on stage and I wanted to identify people who I thought were interesting that could teach him something. I assumed that, as an avatar of an audience member, if it was interesting to me, it would be interesting to others. The people that I’m most excited about are probably going to be the most interesting. But we have Spencer Levy who is a chief executive of CBRE, he’s been hailed as one of the best orators in the real estate space, he’s incredibly entertaining, and he’s got macroeconomic information that is going to be brand new for 2022. I’m very excited about that. We have cryptocurrency being represented on the stage for the first time and the impact of blockchain technology on commercial real estate. I’m excited to marry those two knowledge bases, those two investing worlds.

We have Vicki Schiff, who has been in commercial real estate since the 90s. She just recently sold a mortgage REIT that has originated over $3 billion. Just having somebody on stage that has played at that scale and can share some of her economic wisdom as well. I’m very excited about that. John Chang is coming back. He’s a great economist for Marcus and Millichap. We have an intellectual debate that is always awesome. We get two people to debate for a motion and two people to debate against a motion. It’s just a great way to explore a question that doesn’t have the right answer to it in trying to predict what the future looks like on a particular subject matter. There’s a number of sessions and speakers that I’m really excited about. That’s just a few.

Slocomb Reed: I hear an amazing speaker, one of the people you just mentioned likely. I have questions for them or want to connect with them afterward, will I have an opportunity for that?

Ben Lapidus: Absolutely. What we learned from the virtual event last year is that it was really efficient from a user experience to kind of keep the show moving, not do Q&A during the mainstage event, and to have a Q&A room after the fact. We’re going to take that model and we’re going to convert it into the physical space where during our breaks we’re going to have Q&A rooms with our speakers who have gone… Kind of like a radio station set where the hits keep coming, and then during the commercial break, you can go to the bathroom, you can hang out with the sponsors, or you can go into the Q&A room and interact with the speakers.

Slocomb Reed: Got you. I hear something that appeals directly to me and I want to follow up with that speaker on their subject matter. The main stage will get a new speaker soon, but I can go do Q&A with the speaker who engaged with me in another space.

Ben Lapidus: Yes, exactly right.

Slocomb Reed: Nice. Is there anything I haven’t asked about yet that you think everyone needs to know?

Ben Lapidus: Why come to the Best Ever Conference? What’s the point? What are we doing it for? I find that there’s a lot of content out there. There are dozens of conferences that you could attend, there are hundreds of books that you could read, lots of podcasts. Why this one? Why this experience? Why this content set? My answer is, it’s the only true national forum that marries the mid-market investor space, which is what the listeners of this podcast are, to institutional quality speakers and content. There’s a lot of conferences out there where you get your kind of top podcasters to be your speakers. These are folks who are, let’s say, early still in their real estate cycle. Even Joe, myself, and Brandon Turner from the Bigger Pockets Podcast, we’re all in our first economic cycles. We weren’t investing back in 2005 in commercial real estate. To learn from people who are talking about tens of billions of dollars who have seen multiple economic cycles, but to do it in a space where you have 96% of your people have done at least one commercial transaction in the last six months, which makes every audience member just as impressive as every speaker.

We have incredibly high audience quality interactions, incredibly high speaker quality interactions. It’s the only national forum that’s kind of taken that tact to allow our syndicator operators in our audience inside the Best Ever community to interact with institutional-level execution. We have found over 60 podcasts have been started from the Best Ever conference, over two dozen companies have been formed by interactions, by partnerships made at the Best Ever conference. Brandon Turner from Bigger Pockets kind of hails the Best Ever conferences, the inflection point when he started open door capital. That’s an example. Life Bridge Capital was formed out of the Best Ever Conference. Spartan Investment Group was formed out of the Best Ever Conference. Ashcraft was formed out of the Best Ever Conference. These partnerships were formed by connections that were made at the conference. That’s the reason to attend. It is the highest audience quality event in this big market syndicator commercial real estate space.

Break: [00:13:05][00:16:01]

Slocomb Reed: Ben, speaking of audience quality and quality networking, I was looking at the prospective itinerary for the conference and I saw Best Ever Party. That’s definitely not something I got to do virtually last year. Tell me about that. What is that?

Ben Lapidus: That is where we have one of our top sponsors just buys around drinks for the entire conference. We got a bus series coming in to bring people from the Gaylord to the largest bar in Denver. We’re just going to take it over and we’re going to be there for as long as people want to be there. Denver shuts down at 2 am and usually, there’s at least 100 people left by that hour in our physical space. The Best Ever Conference is not just a place to go and sit with your notebook and take notes, definitely do that but it is the best networking ground. People think they want to come to the speakers but the real value that they get out of it, the reason they come back, the reason 60 to 70% of people come back every year, is because of the audience quality. It is the best place to meet all the people that you’ve listened to on podcasts, that you’ve spoken to over the last year, and to make great new connections, partnerships, relationships. The party helps foster that.

Slocomb Reed: That’s awesome. I know, I spent a lot of time with my notebook in my seat last year watching the conference on my computer. I’m very much looking forward to the networking, the opportunity to meet you in person, Ben, and some of the other people that I’m interviewing with this podcast as well.

Ben Lapidus: Right on.

Slocomb Reed: Great. The conference is from February 24th through 26th. Where is the best place for people to get more information about it and to register, Ben?

Ben Lapidus: The best place is besteverconference.com We’re really excited. We have more than double the amount of people attending already than any other previous year by this time. We’re excited about another great event in February.

Slocomb Reed: Awesome. Best Ever listeners, we hope you have a Best Ever day. Ben and I hope we get to meet you at the Best Ever Conference in February.

Ben Lapidus: Thanks, Slocomb.

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