Miss out on ICLV? Top talks, tips, takeaways for your team

Publish Date: August 17, 2023

Written by Dani Vanderboegh

- Originally published at Inman News - Dani Vanderboegh

No one can predict the future, but you can prepare. Find out what to prepare for and pick up the tools you’ll need at the immersive Virtual Inman Connect on Nov. 1-2, 2023. And don’t miss Inman Connect New York on Jan. 23-25, 2024, where AI, capital, and more will be center stage. Bet big on the roaring future, and join us at Connect.

Last week’s Inman Connect Las Vegas was chock-full of programming that’s so 2023. From what agents and teams really want to how to leverage AI to brand ownership, industry leaders shared their pro tips, hot takes and heated debates right there onstage for all to see. But even if you weren’t there, we want to make sure that your team is up to speed on anything you might have missed.

Here are 15 ICLV posts your team will devour, with some videos of full panels included:

Top takeaways

Inman contributors and ICLV panelists Rachael Hite and Troy Palmquist wrote up their post-Connect takeaways to share with your team.

1. 6 a-ha moments from Inman Connect that’ll stick with you

The measure of any great conference experience is the messages that stay with us after we leave. Inman Connect isn’t a vacation. It’s a critical retreat to build your business against your worst enemy — the echo chamber that is your office without new perspectives. 

It’s not just about sales coaching; it’s experts, analysts and new ideas that are designed to infuse your business with the fuel it needs to see the big picture. Trainer and sales counselor Rachael Hite shares her top speakers and takeaways from ICLV. Read more.

2. 7 ‘connect’-ions I made at Inman Connect Las Vegas

If it’s been a while since you’ve been to an industrywide event, DOORA’s Troy Palmquist says it’s time you start making travel plans.

“I feel like I’ve been buzzing ever since returning from Inman Connect Las Vegas with members of my team late last week,” he writes. 

When you stop to think about Inman Connect — whether it’s ICLV or ICNY or one of the other breakout or virtual events Inman holds all year round — it’s so much more than just another real estate conference. 

Part of its appeal for many of us is the chance to make new connections and deepen existing ones because you’ll see some people at every event. You can have coffee or breakfast with both old friends and new friends, introduce them, and give them the chance to get to know each other as well.

Of course, whether you’re watching a panel, participating in a panel or just hanging out with colleagues, it’s an opportunity to grow professionally, expand your network, grow your business, and have (or hear) conversations with people who change your perspective on things. Here’s why Palmquist says you can’t sleep on the connections that happen at, well, Connect. Read more.

For leaders

If you’re a team leader, trainer or someone who oversees agents in any capacity, these Inman Connect Las Vegas panels are for you.

3. Luxury agents dish on how to build and lead strong teams 

When luxury agent Kofi Nartey started to attract his new client base, he knew the people he was hoping to work for had certain expectations that he wanted to emulate. They typically had assistants handling their meetings. Nartey was an agent on a team of one. So he decided to hire a creative “assistant.”

“I literally created a secondary Gmail account so I had an ‘assistant’ who confirmed all my appointments,” Nartey told a crowd at Inman Luxury Connect on Tuesday in Las Vegas. “Knowing that there were certain things that would resonate with my clients like an assistant confirming appointments on behalf of Mr. Nartey” might help win more business.

Eventually, Nartey knew he needed to value his time more by hiring a team and delegating tasks, and he soon hired actual assistants to help with the tasks of running his business.

The question of when and how to scale can overwhelm solo agents who haven’t yet built teams. Dawn McKenna, who runs one of the biggest Coldwell Banker teams out of Chicagoland, said agents need to “lean into discomfort” when first deciding to scale. Read more.

4. How to ‘attract’ agents instead of ‘recruiting’ them

Does the word “recruiting” itself set brokers up for failure? “I actually hate the word ‘recruiting,’” Michael Valdes, of eXp Realty, told the ICLV audience. It was during a session that also included moderator Kymber Menkiti, of Keller Williams Capital Properties; and Troy Palmquist, of Doora Properties.

Valdes pointed out how the word itself has become very transactional — a tool implemented to get someone through the door at a company but not necessarily have anything else to do with them once they arrive. He prefers using “attraction” instead, which has more relational connotations.

“‘Recruiting‘ is that corporate America word,” Palmquist agreed. “There’s a cost associated with it … Versus everything else we’ve heard this week, which is that this is a relationship business.”

The key to success in attracting and retaining good agents lies in large part on a broker’s mindset, speakers said. And adopting a “we” instead of a “me” attitude. Read more.

5. Mentorship, support, guidance: What agents really want today

“I think it’s a moment to redefine what you offer,” Kymber Menkiti said on Tuesday at CEO Connect, an invite-only breakout at Inman Connect Las Vegas.

George Canciobello, of Lifestyle International Realty; joined Menkiti, of The Menkiti Group at Keller Williams Capital Properties; and moderator Clelia Peters in a panel discussion titled “Opportunities in Brokerage: Team Reports From the Field Today.”

“The consumers’ actions voted loud and clear. Look at Redfin, right? The consumer hasn’t raced to the model where they pay less to get less.” Menkiti said. “People want more for more.”

This conversation comes amid many stories of high-profile agents and teams jumping to other brokerages. Like Aaron Kirman, a top-producing Los Angeles luxury agent who left Compass to start his own brand in a new partnership with Christie’s International Real Estate last November. And Southern California real estate team Henry Horn Group, which officially launched at Compass on Aug. 1 after leaving Residential Agent Inc.

And there’s a phenomenon of boomerang agents and teams who end up back at their first brokerages, such as Selling Sunset star Vanessa Villela, who left Mauricio Umansky’s The Agency for The Oppenheim Group only to return to The Agency after two years. And Shari Davis, who had been at Compass for about two years when the grass started to look a little greener elsewhere. After three months, she returned to Compass when the promises didn’t match the reality.

People are moving to other brokerages, but they’re also coming back, Menkiti said.

“As a broker, you ultimately have to have thick skin,” she added.

So when agents and teams are quick to jump ship when the desired value isn’t there, what can brokerages do to attract and, more importantly, retain talent? Read more.

6. Jon Cheplak doles out tough love to brokers on agent attrition

“Stop interviewing,” real estate coach and leadership expert Jon Cheplak urged the ICLV audience. “You need to interrogate.”

In the 2,000-plus coaching calls Cheplak has conducted thus far in 2023, he’s heard just how challenging of a time it’s been for real estate professionals as the market has shifted to a higher interest rate environment. He’s coached individuals with six-figure incomes and six-figure losses and urged business leaders in the room to become more active participants in their companies and lead through example, rather than allowing automation to take over.

“What’s most important is what you do from this point forward,” Cheplak said.

“To lead, you need to focus on your emotional intelligence and emotional maturity,” he continued.

“Your challenge is, How am I going to move a human being to move transactions?” Read more.

7. What agents want more of in 2024? Peace, harmony and better training

As the real estate industry charts a course beyond the choppy waters of 2023, its top producers are hoping for a year of collaboration, social media innovation and enhanced coaching to guide agents through lingering economic hurdles.

In a panel entitled “What Top Agents Want to See More of in 2024 and Beyond,” Official agent Ariana Gaffoglio, team leader Jason Mitchell of the Jason Mitchell Group and Compass agent Holly Meyer Lucas shared the green shoots they hoped to see sprout as economic challenges dissipate in the months ahead.

For Gaffoglio, a former member of The Eklund | Gomes Team at Douglas Elliman with career sales in excess of $1 billion, the emergence of co-listings in her California and Nevada markets offered a glimmer of hope that agents would work more collaboratively in the new year in the face of scant inventory.

“I am primarily a listing agent, and what I’ve noticed is it’s all the same agents going up against each other and instead of just competing, we’ve just decided to co-list with a different brokerage,” Gaffoglio said, recalling a two-year period of agents competing tooth-and-nail for a limited number of listings. “I’d like to see more of that — agents working together.”

Lucas, who works in Palm Beach, Florida, said she hopes to see more agents marketing themselves on social media rather than just using social platforms to advertise their properties. With class-action lawsuits challenging the very heart of the real estate business model, now is a more important time to show the human side of real estate agents, she argued. Read more.

For sales

8. ‘Run for the fire’: Liz Gehringer shares advice for a downturn

If the real estate industry is experiencing a five-alarm fire, agents need to play the role of firefighter.

“It is both run for the fire and have the confidence you have the skills,” Liz Gehringer, CEO of Anywhere Franchise Brands said. “The short-term fire is inventory. That’s the focus.”

Gehringer spoke alongside Jason Aleem, senior vice president of real estate operations at Redfin; and Drew Uher, CEO of HomeLight; on a panel called “Should We Run Toward or Away From The Fire?”

The good news is that agents can lean on the fundamentals to help not only survive the fire but grow through it, Gehringer said. Read more.

9. ‘Buying Beverly Hills’ star: Don’t chase deals — chase relationships

When it comes to drumming up listings, don’t overlook the power of forging relationships with other agents.

In a session called “Strategies for Finding Listing Inventory When There Is None,” Jon Grauman, a luxury real estate agent at The Agency and a cast member of Buying Beverly Hills, said inventory is “the central issue” of the real estate industry right now and noted that sales volume in Los Angeles is down 45 percent year over year, and in New York, it’s down about 24 percent year over year.

He isn’t chasing deals right now, but he is chasing relationships because that’s where a lot of deals come from, he said.

“We work in a really unique business where our competitors are also our colleagues, but you have to embrace that,” Grauman said.

He likened the process to “really targeted matchmaking” where instead of marketing to a broad audience, he tries to identify a specific buyer that’s right for a home.

“There’s an element of what we do that’s essentially like legalized insider trading,” Grauman said.

“We get to know about deals before they come to market,” he added. “We often have all sorts of insights about deals that the rest of market isn’t privy to. Even if it’s listed for sale, you might know the back story that the market doesn’t and you can be really strategic about how you use that information to your advantage.”

He’s putting all of his time and energy into building relationships with other agents because he’s thinking of the long game, he said. Read more.

10. 5 free game-changing strategies agents can employ for 2024

Sharran Srivatsaa, president of The Real Brokerage, told agents to be wary when listening to advice from others — even certified coaches — in the industry.

“Bad advice that sounds cool is still bad advice,” Srivatsaa cautioned attendees.

Srivatsaa said that coaches and management in the industry sometimes “say dumb things,” leaving agents with vague or unhelpful advice like “make your calls,” “make 5 videos per day” or do a “pop-by.” These suggestions make no sense, Srivatsaa asserted, noting that no one picks up their phone anymore, many of the types of videos agents are creating go unwatched and the “pop-by” can often come across as just plain weird.

“It’s not your fault, but it is your problem,” that coaches and others have let agents down, Srivatsaa said. Instead, he offered these tactical and free solutions that agents can start acting on today. Read more.

11. 5 takeaways from ‘The Great Door Knocking Debate’ at ICLV

Over the past several months, an extensive debate about door knocking has been burning on Inman, covering all angles. It all began in April when Ralph Yarl, a 16-year-old Black teenager, went to pick up his brothers, knocked at the wrong door, and was shot twice by the homeowner. Within a week, another young person, a 20-year-old white woman, got lost and went to the wrong house while trying to find a friend’s home; she was also shot.

That’s when Rachael Hite wrote an op-ed on Inman about retiring door knocking.

“These days, telling your agents to door knock for new business isn’t just dated advice, but it could also be a deadly endeavor. In a world where gun violence is in our headlines daily, it’s time to retire this technique for good,” she wrote.

This months-long debate with self-proclaimed, door-knocking champion Ernesto Vargas culminated at ICLV in “The great door-knocking debate,” moderated by Inman’s Dani Vanderboegh. Here are our top five takeaways. Read the full story here.

For marketers

12. Leverage AI for your social strategy in 2024 — but maintain authenticity

And there’s a tasteful way that real estate agents can utilize the tool in their social media strategy to make their lives easier while staying true to themselves, speakers at Inman Connect Las Vegas said.

Glennda Baker, of Glennda Baker & Associates at Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, said she believed in agents maintaining ownership over their social media content.

“When it comes to AI, there’s no disputing that it’s going to have an impact on our industry, but ultimately that person, just like the filter you use on your photos, isn’t going to show up in front of your clients,” she told the ICLV audience. “If you’re going to let AI create the content, shame on you … I’m the old dog on the stage, but ultimately that’s the truth.”

Giselle Ugarte, of Action Forward and The Talent Brokerage, said there are smart ways agents can implement artificial intelligence to make their lives easier, but there’s no way AI can completely replace an agent’s work on their own social media or other parts of their business.

“I believe you should make it an extension, not a replacement,” Ugarte said. “Use it for research. Use it as a coach. Don’t use it to replace your actual coach, but use it to find pain points …”

Mike Sherrard, of eXp Realty, likened AI to the invention of the tractor. “Centuries ago, farmers did everything manually,” he said. “Some decided to do it the old way, some decided to use the new tool … It’s never going to make an agent obsolete … but the ones who capitalize on it are going to be able to use it to leverage their business.” Let AI do some of the work to free up your time for other tasks, and then insert your own personality, Sherrard advised. Read more.

13. AI can supercharge agents’ brands. 3 marketing experts share pro tips

Although leaders often feel they must choose one over the other, Anywhere Brands Chief Marketing Officer Amory Wooden, Collabra Technology CEO Russ Cofano, and The Agency Chief Operating Officer Shane Farkas told the Inman Connect Las Vegas crowd there’s a way to stay true to company branding while giving agents the freedom to express themselves.

“I think properly executed brand standards can benefit everyone, and they’re also not set in stone, so they can evolve over time,” Farkas said of The Agency’s evolution over the past 12 years. “So for us, we’ve made a lot of changes to our brand standards over the years based on feedback and changes in the industry. We’ve also grown in size and geography.”

“We have an entire section of our brand guidelines around agent and team logos and branding, and then we get suggestions from the field,” he added. “So one of our new franchises wanted to change something on the side, which you might think is there’s no chance we’re going to do that, but we actually liked that idea. So we incorporated that change into the brand standards.”

Farkas said The Agency doesn’t review every piece of its agents’ digital and print advertising; however, agents do a lot of “self-policing” and are quick to flag materials that deviate from brand standards. Read more.

14. Glennda Baker is recognized by her stars anywhere. That’s the point

Brokerages need agents and their personal brands more than agents need the backing of brokerage brands, Baker argued. “My name is Glennda Baker, and I am a brand.”

Baker called back to a session on agent-marketing freedom that had taken place the previous day, in which one brokerage chief marketing officer had told the audience his brokerage didn’t allow agents to create their own brands. They could only use the brokerage brand, calling it their biggest asset as a company.

But Baker fervently told Thursday’s audience that such a notion was wrong — the individual agent and their own brand has become the biggest asset to brokerages today.

“If you think [your biggest asset is] your brand, you’ve lost your damn mind — the agent is [a brokerage’s] biggest asset, not their brand,” she asserted.

“Think about Nike … Can you imagine a world where Michael Jordan wasn’t affiliated with Nike?” Baker said.

She argued that brokerages haven’t thought through just how far collaborating with their star agents on branding and promotions could take the brokerage as a whole. As a large company, the fact is that brokerages simply can’t create the same kind of connection with clients that agents can as members of their community who know the people they’re transacting with personally, she said.

“People do business with people, especially today,” Baker said. “It’s not just about a company brand.”

15. Katie Lance: ‘We’re in a big moment with ChatGPT and AI’

Social media consultant Katie Lance talked about the potential that artificial intelligence platforms hold for promoting agents’ businesses.

“When I thought about the future as a kid, it didn’t quite look like this,” said Lance. While everyone was expecting a Jetsons-like, flying-car scenario, which didn’t exactly unfold, AI does offer the potential for exciting possibilities, she said.

“There are very few things that stand out as big moments, but I think we’re in that big moment with ChatGPT and AI,” Lance said.

For property descriptions, video titles, answering client questions and more, ChatGPT can be a helpful resource. It’s not just what you ask for, however. It’s how you ask it, according to Lance. Read more.

Enjoy, and please share your top takeaway in the comments section below.

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