With the continued need for social distancing in mind, the upcoming 2020 CREW Network Convention in September will be 100 percent virtual. Because of this new format, getting all you can from networking, speakers and panelists requires a different mindset when it comes to preparation and attendance.
Over the past few months, CREW Boston’s Coffee with CREW participants discussed how to take advantage of the networking and educational opportunities offered through this year’s event. Leverage the following tips to help you prepare and get the most out of the convention.
Before the Convention
Study the agenda. This year’s event will consist of over 50 sessions, ranging from keynotes and mega sessions, to intimate conversation corners and roundtable discussions. The complete agenda is available online. Take some time during the next few weeks to examine what’s going on, pinpoint what interests you and block off time on your calendar to attend.
View the attendee list. Sort by CREW chapter. Reach out to registrants in markets in which you’ve done a lot of work, or expect to do so in the future, and set up plans for virtual coffee.
Pay attention to CREW Network emails. Hopefully this is something you would ordinarily do, even without the upcoming convention. But at this time, it’s especially important to be up-to-date with the CREW Network Open Forum emails. Doing so helps you understand the latest trends, while also identifying members with whom you can connect during the event.
Be ready with your “pitch.” Prepare talking points that speak to your firm or team’s experience and capabilities. Having bullet points with this information can be enormously helpful during virtual networking breaks and intimate roundtable discussions.
“COVID has pushed my team to use this time, when a lot of our transactions have been put on hold, to reimagine our marketing materials and think about our goals moving forward. Rather than focusing on the sales process right now, I’m more focused on reaching out to people to build a network of people I can see a path to working with in the future, not only as a client but as a partner, or people with an asset or market expertise that I don’t have but am interested in learning about. Heading into the convention, I’ll be paying attention to ways I can strengthen my CREW network.” — Lindsey King, Director, Corporate Solutions at Madison Marquette
During the Convention
Be present while participating. Many of us have gotten into the habit of multi-tasking during Zoom meetings and phone calls; we regularly answer texts and emails while talking with colleagues. Resist this temptation during convention sessions. CREW Network's Membership Education Committee has worked hard to carefully select experts and panelists, who will provide invaluable information about our industry. Close out your Outlook and other screens, and dial in 100 percent to these experts’ insights.
Participate and discuss. Don’t be a passive attendee -- jump in and participate! One advantage of the virtual platform is that you can submit questions directly to expert speakers, or share thoughts with fellow attendees. This function allows you to find other attendees with similar interests to yours.
Share on social media platforms. Post snippets of speaker quotes or your own take-aways to LinkedIn and Twitter in real time during the event using the hashtag #crewconvention. Sharing this information offers multiple benefits for you, including a higher visibility on your feed and a way for you to document what you learned.
Be purposeful with networking. We won’t be sitting at large tables and introducing ourselves in person. It’s important to make good use of the virtual platform to exchange greetings, thoughts and questions with fellow attendees. During the networking periods, set up quick calls to “meet” during the designated CREW Coffee Talk times, similar to meeting for coffee in the lobby during a physical convention.
After the Convention
Continue your outreach. While the CREW Network Convention offers amazing opportunities for networking and connections, strong relationships and associations aren’t formed during one conversation. Your efforts should be ongoing after the convention ends. Send invitations via CREWbiz and LinkedIn to your new connections. Also, share information and thoughts with those new contacts, especially those who have similar interests to yours. Follow up with a company brochure or additional information specific to what you discussed.
“A key part of my responsibilities at LightBox is connecting with subject matter experts qualified to speak at our client events or provide quotes for our content on timely industry topics. I also administer a national mentoring program I created for young leaders in the property risk management field. My CREW membership is the silver bullet that makes my job easier. Being able to reach out to a CREW member anywhere in the U.S. and say “I’m a member of CREW Network means the answer is always ‘yes, how can I help?’ or ‘here’s who you need to speak to. I’ll introduce you.’ You get out of CREW what you put into it, and it’s definitely worth the time to build out your CREW network. Convention is a great opportunity to do that.” — Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst, LightBox
Share your experiences. This convention will be different from past events, and we encourage everyone to share their observations and what they’ve learned from it. Write a post on your company’s blog page about the event and key takeaways as part of your business development efforts. This provides an effective way to share information learned at the convention with your managers/senior leadership to emphasize the value of CREW. It’s also a good way to help your local chapter with additional content by checking to see if you can post information and takeaways on your CREW chapter’s website.
Keep informed and remain visible. Attend chapter follow-up events, such as Coffee with CREW, to continue connecting with local members who attended the conference. Also, keep reading the daily CREW Open Forum emails for topical, pertinent conversation threads.
Update your information. This is a great time to ensure that your CREWbiz profile is up to date (view this how-to video created by CREW Boston to learn more). Refresh your profile picture, title, company and contact information, if necessary. If you are a public speaker, create a speaker profile in the CREW Network Speakers Directory to announce your availability and expertise to other members.
While we won’t be meeting face-to-face and shaking hands at the 2020 CREW Network Convention, there will be plenty of opportunities to connect and learn. Taking the time to prepare, being fully present and planning follow-up outreach will ensure long-term benefits from this event.
Here’s to a terrific virtual CREW convention!
Elizabeth Krol is national client manager for Partner Engineering and Science, Inc., and is both a Professional Geologist (PG) and an ASTM designated Environmental Professional (EP). She provides comprehensive, expedited transactional support services for real estate, legal and financial service companies nationwide. Krol is an active member of CREW Boston and immediate past delegate to CREW Network.
Dianne Crocker is a Senior Economist for Lightbox. She delivers strategic data and analysis on property risk management trends to commercial real estate lenders, environmental due diligence consultants and other stakeholders in property deals.
Lindsey King is Director of Corporate Solutions at Madison Marquette. She advises corporate clients on cost reduction strategies across their real estate portfolios, and has a particular expertise developing and implementing cost reduction and real estate transformation programs for banks across their retail branch networks.
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