If you’re going to create an event focused on connection, it helps to give people what they need to connect.
For the past decade I’ve attended the Inman Connect conference in NYC each January.
The conference is like a 3-ring circus, and my attention was usually split in multiple parts. I would want to be in sessions to hear the speakers and spend time nurturing connections and have a chance to explore the vendors.
It was too much.
No matter where I was, I would feel guilty for not being in a different place.
Snacks over Substance
The dozens of short sessions (10–20 minutes) over 3 days felt like trying to build a meal from snack food. By the end of the week, I had eaten a lot, yet still found myself hungry.
I would end the week drowning in business cards and information, with no real sense of having gained any knowledge or wisdom that I could apply in my business. Plus, I’d be exhausted. I often needed at least a week to recover.
Too Much Information
While some of the content was great and certainly interesting, it was hard to parse out what was truly relevant. The truth is, I didn’t need more and tips and things I could do. I don’t think anyone in attendance lacked a resource for potential things you could do. What I went for was to nurture connection.
But the pace of the conference left little time to connect on a meaningful level.
I’m a “deep work” girl. I adhere to a strict exercise-before-email rule, and typically stay offline until at least noon. Socially, I’m an extrovert and feed off the energy of people, but I have zero patience for small talk. I prefer small group activities where I can really get to know people, rather than big parties.
Breakthroughs Happen in the Bathroom
I’ve learned from experience that the best moments at any event typically happen in the hallways and lobbies. The insights and aha moments often don’t happen in the container of the seminar room; they require some space. As one of my mentors says, “breakthroughs happen in the bathroom.”
In recent years I’ve been more intentional in my approach to ICNY, scheduling lunches and other plans in advance with the people top on my list.
This year, I decided to do ICNY my way. I skipped the main conference and, instead, created space to nurture relationships. I kept the days blocked off in my calendar, and scheduled meetings with people I wanted to see.
It was perfect.
I deepened and nourished existing relationships over great meals. I created new connections. I had a chance to explore the vendor showcase and learn about some promising new businesses.
Removing the pressure of having to attend the sessions gave me space to create a more meaningful shared experience with others. Without the voice telling me I should be somewhere else, I was able to be fully present in my conversations. I was able to truly listen.
That’s the essence of creating conscious connections and building real relationships.
Trading Information for Insights
You might point out that I missed out on the information delivered in the sessions. This is true. And intentional.
There’s a misconception that information is power. In fact, that misconception lies at the heart of almost everything wrong with the real estate industry. The fights over access to information and who owns the information are irrelevant.
The ship on controlling information sailed long ago.
People are drowning in information. This includes real estate agents and our clients. Nobody needs more.
What people need — what they desire — is greater insight. More wisdom. To feel seen and heard. To nurture deeper connections.
The Essence of Connect
That’s what Inman Connect has always been about for me. This year I put my stake in the ground and created the space I needed to connect.
It was my best Connect yet.