#NARAnnual Expo Floor - Anaheim 2011

Photo courtesy of Flickr user (and AAR blog contributor) Bill Risser

The 2011 National Association of REALTORS® Conference and Expo was held in Anaheim, CA this year; a good time as usual. Anaheim is an excellent place for large events, and I know more than one person took advantage of the fact that it was right next to Disneyland! As is true every year, my favorite part is walking / talking with other attendees. Whether it’s your friends from other companies, online networking contacts you hardly get face time with, or vendor reps that you’ve never met, the face-to-face (F2F) interactions make this event worth going.

Theme Show

Each year I try to identify a single theme – some common string that runs through the booths, classes and hallway conversations. In my opinion, this was a continuation from last year. It’s no surprise that mobile is once again the front runner. People are still learning how to use their mobile devices in more useful ways. In fact, mobile devices have multiplied; bring on the tablets!

Tablets and Phones

Saturday morning I attended a session on using tablets and mobile devices in real estate. Amy Chorew and Ginger Wilcox lead the discussion in front of a jam-packed room. The room held hundreds and was bursting at the seems. Ginger started by painting a picture of the 2011 home buyer.

They pull up in front of a home for sale and pull out their iPad or smart phone. If they can’t see interior pictures within five minutes, they are frustrated. Five minutes is a LONG time to sit in front of a house waiting for more information.

I get it. I also get that some agents don’t know how to make “mobile friendly” information. It’s hard enough to keep up with the desktop web, let alone the mobile web. Ginger continued by addressing the question she gets asked the most.

Do I Need an App?

No, REALTORS® do not need an app. However, you should make sure that your website is mobile friendly. Do you know what your site looks like on a mobile device? I hope you’ve tried to check it out on your smart phone, BlackBerry* or iPad.

Visit howtogomo.com for tips on having a mobile-friendly site and to see what your site looks like on an Android.

Shiny App Syndrome

Ginger and Amy went through their list of handy apps. They both referenced the fact they have shiny app syndrome and have been know to download apps that never get used. For the sake of time, they filtered their apps list to the handy ones for real estate agents.

You’ve probably heard of the big ones like Dropbox, Skype, Twitter and Facebook. Here are some of the ones they mentioned that are lesser known:

  • Expensify – track expenses, take pictures of receipts
  • Milebug – track your mileage via GPS
  • Magic Plan – build a floor plan from photos (iPhone only)
  • My Measures – get dimensions of an object by taking a picture

Walking the Expo

As I mentioned before, no new trend stood out this year. Mobile advertising is still here – although there weren’t as many billboard-sized QR codes. Paperless file management is still being perfected by several different technology companies. Leads for purchase are everywhere. Banks are continuing their “but wait, we’re friendly” campaigns. All in all, nothing jumped out with the WOW factor. I did notice the foot massage booth stepped it up by adding a body shaker. I’ll spare you the ridiculous video. 🙂

FB 2 F2F

The next morning included peer-to-peer sessions. I chose Dale Chumbley’s Facebook talk. Dale is Facebook famous for starting the “365 Things to Do in [insert your city]” page trend and engaging his audience in creatively simple ways. After listening to his presentation, it’s no wonder he gets 50% of his business from social networking. Feel free to borrow:

“Crazy Things I See When Showing Homes!”

See something crazy when out with clients? Snap a photo and upload it to Facebook. This is a creative way to remind your friends that you are a REALTOR® that can help them buy a house too. Much better than using the line, “I’m a REALTOR® that can help you buy a house.” This picture is classic.

“What Is It?”

Do you like using photo distortion apps on your phone? Dale will modify a picture and ask his friends to guess what it is. I think it’s a fun way to keep people engaged. Can you identify this one without reading the comments?

Happy Birthday Videos

Have you ever wished a friend a happy birthday by writing on their FB wall? Yes. Were you 1 of 100? Yes. So… what are you going to do to stand out? Dale turns on the web cam and wishes his friends a happy birthday via video. As long as you have a web cam, it’s simple to post a video message within Facebook. Try it. If you don’t like watching yourself on video – don’t! Just post the message and continue on with your day. Start doing this today before it becomes the norm.

Even though Dale networks online better than you and I, his overall goal is still to meet people offline – a.k.a. in the real world. Facebook is a great way to communicate, but getting F2F is much better for business.

I like to stress the importance / significance of face time because so often I get wrapped up in all the techno-tools that I forget to mention what a lot of these tools are actually trying to accomplish: make our lives easier, make our businesses more productive or improve our relationships with others.

All in all, it was a great conference / expo. Thanks for reading!

 *Okay, okay. BlackBerry phones are smart phones too.

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