Conferences and trade shows: the best opportunity to network

by WebMax28 Aug 2019

by Kelcey Brown

Networking is daunting for many mortgage professionals, but it doesn’t have to be. Using a variety of techniques and strategies outlined below, mortgage originators and lenders can make the most out of the many industry events that pack the calendar each year.

Socialize with strangers
Socializing with complete strangers may seem intimidating, however you may end up having some riveting conversations with interesting people. If you are socializing at an event it could be easy to spark up conversation about trends in the mortgage industry. Chances are you will have a lot in common with other professionals in the mortgage industry and conversation will come easier than you expected. Socializing with other professionals can also allow you to expand your personal network which is always a good thing. If you keep in touch with the people you meet they may be able to lend you a hand in the future when needed. A good rule of thumb is to connect with the people you meet on social media, as well as get their phone number in order to stay in the loop; at that point you will then have contacts at the next conference or event you attend. Therefore, associating with other loan officers can allow you to learn and grow as a mortgage professional.

Pre-network
Before an event it is helpful to prepare ahead of time so that you have meaningful meetings set up and a set agenda. To begin, its best practice to post on social media that you will be in attendance of that specific event or conference. In doing this you might let other people discover your profile and connect with you online. This could also make networking easier as you and your new connection could schedule to meet at the event. Events often have their own hashtag and you should use this in order to increase your ability to be found when people are searching for that event. For example, using “MBANJ2019” could be one for the upcoming conference in September for the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey. Another way to pre-network is to register for webinars and familiarize yourself with new content. Pre-networking is a strategy that will better prepare you for any event that you are going to attend.

Utilize available assets
As most of you know, there can be large crowds of people at any conference. In order to stand out, you need to utilize the assets that you have. If, for example, you have a company pin displaying your company name and logo, wear it. You may or may not have a nametag at a conference or other event, but something featuring your company logo is a visually attractive symbol that other attendees may notice first. Wearing your name tag is obviously the best way to become more approachable and to allow people to connect with you more easily, so refrain from taking it off early. Additionally, a business card is a helpful tool to allow you to quickly and easily share your contact information with other people you are meeting. If you don’t already have business cards, it is crucial to have them printed in advance so you are prepared to hand them out at the next event. It will appear unprofessional to others if they request your card, and you have nothing to hand them but a scribbled piece of paper. With that being said, get your marketing pieces in order ahead of schedule so you are fully prepared to interact at your next event.

Focus on Learning
Even if we don’t always want to admit it, there is constantly something to learn from other professionals in the mortgage industry. When people network they are often worried about making a good impression and they tend to shift the conversation towards subjects they know and want to discuss. Another good way to network, however, is to be curious and ask questions of others. This lets the other person know you are interested in what they have to say, and it also gives them a chance to speak on their personal area of expertise. You have the opportunity to learn a great deal in each conversation you have, which is why lenders and other mortgage professionals should take advantage of this technique. Many conferences also offer additional workshops apart from the main panel discussions, and those workshops can provide a lot of background information on recent happenings in the industry, as well as deeper, more tactical discussions related to running and managing your business. This also allows you to learn new things and grow as a business professional from an industry event that you attend.

It is essential to take this information and share it with your colleagues to prepare and ultimately foster growth of the company as a whole. Asking questions and being open to learning rather than showing off your knowledge can lead to better conversations, new tips, and some useful new contacts.

 

Kelcey Brown is the chief strategy officer and executive vice president at WebMax. He is responsible for developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining strategic initiatives, and acts as a key advisor to president on critical changes in the competitive landscape, internal employee development and the external business environment while also ensuring that appropriate metrics are in place to measure performance and progress toward strategic goals. Brown is also accountable for spearheading the success of our clients by developing and managing product training and growth initiatives.