I’ve not always been a Valuation Expo “insider”. Throughout my career, attending the Valuation Expo has always been a must. I have made long-lasting, high-level connections with many different people from regulators and appraisers to software developers. These relationships go far beyond the Val Expo floor and we have relied on each other on many occasions throughout the years. But, I still look forward to meeting new first-timers at each event. I can’t tell you how many of these newcomers have joined the ranks of some of the biggest names in the industry.
Perhaps this is your first time coming to Valuation Expo. Let me start by saying congratulations. You have discovered one of the most beneficial events you will ever attend. I understand that it might seem a bit intimidating at first, but we have all been there. There are many questions that come up– Will it be difficult to meet other appraisers? Will I be able to return home with new clients? Will I learn anything? What do I wear? What goes on in the trade show?
Never fear! Here are a few tips that will help you successfully navigate Valuation Expo.
Before You Arrive
- Think about areas where you would like to improve your business and set a goal of learning about two or three practices or strategies that you can bring back and implement. You will likely find many good ideas but the likelihood that you can implement more than a few is probably low.
- Bring plenty of business cards.
- Check out the exhibitors before the event. Go to their websites. Many times you can arrange to meet with them during the event.
- Read the bios of the speakers so that you can recognize them and be ready to speak to them.
- As you get ready to pack your bags, remember that you are likely to meet some influential people and earn new clients so dress professionally, although a tie is usually not necessary.
During The Meetings
- Arrive early and sit at a table with people you don’t know. Make sure to introduce yourself to the others at the table. Write down their names so you’ll remember
- Share your business cards along with a firm handshake. Look people in the eyes with a warm smile. You can never go wrong there.
- Greet the speakers. They usually stick around the podium after their panel is over. Get their card so that you can reach out to them after the event and tell them what a great job they did. These speakers are great contacts to have in the appraisal realm.
- Make sure to attend Vendors and Lenders Live. Besides hearing from and meeting the lenders, it is also a great opportunity to hear about the newest products and services. Listening to lenders first-hand and gaining a better understanding of their needs is invaluable information to take home from Val Expo.
- Take away some best practices from your most pressing challenges and bring the information back to your office. Learning from your peers can help you think outside the box.
- As you know, Bethany McLean, the American Journalist will be our Keynote speaker. If you have one of her many great books, she will be on hand to sign your book on Tuesday, March 19th from 8:00 am to 8:20 before she speaks to the general session. We will not have books for sale at this event, so bring your own.
The Trade Show
- Introduce yourself. I always like to make it a game to see how many people I can meet. Invite others to join you for a cocktail or dinner after the trade show.
- Stop by each booth and speak to the vendors. I can’t tell you the number of times I wound up needing something weeks or months after the event that I saw on the trade-show floor. All I had to do was pull out that person’s business card and give them a call.
- Win valuable prizes! Each year many of our exhibitors participate in the Appraisal Bee giveaway. Be sure to visit each participating booth, get your card stamped and wait to win.
- Participate in the fun activities. Many exhibitors have games and giveaways in their booths like the Annual Cornhole Tournament sponsored by Computershare. If you’ve never played Corn Hole, you don’t know what you are missing. We’ve even had teams form in advance of the meetings and get t-shirts printed. Some of our memorable teams were—Corn Stars, Evil Cornevil, Corn to be Wild, and Corn in the USA.
After The Event
- Follow-up with the people that you met. If they are prospective clients make sure to ask for their business. If not, make it a point to say hello and thank you, even if it is just through an email or a handwritten note.
- Plan on coming back as soon as possible. Solidify your new network and get ready to expand it further at the next event.
I assure you that if you follow these suggestions, you will not only have a great time, but you’ll most likely come home with business that you couldn’t get otherwise and relationships that will propel your career. One thing I find most common with every first-timer when the conference is over and everyone is heading out, is that they all say they don’t know why they waited so long to attend and that they’ll see us at the next Valuation Expo. I just want to say… That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you!
To The Regular Attendees
If this is not your first event, you are part of the family. Our newcomers need to know their peers. That’s you! Make it a point to meet some of our newcomers and introduce them around to others. Help them feel welcome. After all… we all know how unpredictable this industry can be. Those very people could be your new boss down the road.