With ICSC RECon, our industry’s Super Bowl, quickly approaching, we are encouraging our team to maximize the networking opportunities at the show. I remind them to use every minute wisely – whether it’s in meetings or on the bus. Every minute counts and every interaction is a potential contact. The most valuable advice I feel that I can give the team is to “be intentional” in everything that they do before, during and after the event.
Being intentional in your networking efforts begins with determining your goals, both personally and professionally. What are you trying to accomplish? What are your ambitions? Align yourself not only with people who can help you get deals done, but also with individuals that you can learn from and who can mentor you through their experiences. Be focused on how you choose to spend your time and with whom you spend it.
Intentional networking is about spending your time with the right people and having interactions that will help build those productive relationships. To be effective, remember the following:
- Organization. Productive relationship building doesn’t happen by itself. It’s important to do the research regarding who is attending the event and what kind of opportunities will be offered. Have a plan and set goals. Be proactive in arranging appointments with individuals that can help you reach your goals.
- Time Management. Capture as many touchpoints as possible and make the time you spend with each person count. Instead of spending three hours with one person, make it 30 well-planned minutes and follow up immediately after the conference.
- Goals and Objectives. Before each meeting, consider the question, “What is my “ask”?” If you have a meet-and-greet, plan ahead and know what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want to review two bullet points on a lease and get it signed or are you looking for information, strategic advice or other thoughts? Be direct and to the point.
- Plan the Follow-Up. During your get-together, listen and take note of small personal details or valuable insights that your contact may share. Write them down after the meeting, if necessary. Follow-up correspondence that is personalized based on your conversation will be much more meaningful and will continue to grow the relationship.
The best networking decision of my career was when I took the initiative to reach out to Phillips Edison & Company more than 14 years ago. I knew that the leadership could help me get where I wanted to be so I approached them with a goal of becoming a part of their team. I was intentional in my conversations with them and used all of the strategies I outlined above. Today, I am incredibly thankful for the growth and opportunities that PECO has provided.
Applying these principles to your networking efforts at RECon will ensure that your time is well-spent. You will leave with greater insights and stronger relationships. The more intentional you are, the better your results will be.