By Jeremy Conaway, NWREporter
Inman Connect: Where current positions are confirmed, tomorrows are envisioned and innovation is the religion of the day.
Inman Connect in San Francisco is the industry's biggest and splashiest showcase for the latest and greatest in real estate technologies and practices, and it just keeps getting better.
Over the past two decades an amazingly long list of the game-changing real estate technologies, management practices and productivity products, which are currently impacting the American real estate experience at all levels, can trace their first public exposure to various Inman Connect programs.
The driving force behind the Inman Connect program is, of course, award winning Inman News publisher Brad Inman. For a few weeks each summer for the past twenty years he has transitioned from media executive to center stage impresario. His efforts have created an attendee experience that floats somewhere between a Woodstock festival for technology groupies, an Academy Awards show for the serious industry guru and a mental Olympics for attendees who just can't get enough of their favorite drug called innovation.
Inman Connect has also become the place for over 2000 of the industry's challengers, aspirants, survivors and elite to meet, greet and evolve their professional relationships. During each event significant personal interactions take place and important enterprise and developmental relationships are created. For would-be technical stars Inman Connect is clearly the place to be discovered.
While the overall event has gained the status of the industry's renaissance festival, its individual program elements offer something for virtually everyone in the industry. New agents can find veterans willing to share. Senior brokers can find "up and comers" from which to learn. Nearly every attendee finds at least one opportunity to reevaluate long-standing attitudes and legacy positions. The only procedural violation or protocol gaff one can commit at Inman Connect is failing to keep an open mind and listen. Inman Connect purposely lacks the enforced structure and political correctness of other established industry events. It comes together to recognize and honor creativity and innovation and has evolved a program format that actually does just that. At the same time, and without rancor or unhappiness, it reminds everyone that whatever lies ahead for our industry is ours to embrace.
For many the presentation with the most impact last week was the keynote speech made by Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, Partner at Vayner Capital, and 4-Time NYT Bestselling Author. While it may seem odd to recognize a keynote speaker for overall effectiveness and informational expertise, the fact is that many keynote presentations are awarded on the basis of fame rather than substance. Gary's presentation met all of the qualifications for a perfect keynote presentation. It was relevant, easy to understand, contained the perfect amount of humor and honored the attendees by providing a number of highly valuable "deliverables." Most importantly he demonstrated a level of personal passion and caring with respect to both the subject and the audience.
Gary "Vee," as he is known by his many fans, moved quickly to establish the fact that he wasn't there to tell war stories or to deliver false praise. Those in the audience understood within minutes that he had a "no nonsense" unequivocal message to deliver and that anyone who chose not to pay attention did so at their own risk.
His first point was to warn those that have become complacent or romantic about their business that they are on a journey that will not end well. Just as many people love the sound of their own voice, so do they like the familiar rhythms of their business. It provides them with a feeling of wellbeing and comfort but, unfortunately, in today's disrupted business environment this false sense of security is the basis of disaster and failure.
His second point was that regardless of what business the attendees' thought they were in, the fact is that their central and primary function was that of being a social media publisher. This is where their primary focus should be. The best real estate professional in the world cannot afford to rely on past fame and success. Such will not serve them well moving ahead.
Vaynerchuk's most impressive points where delivered on the subject of "mobile" computing. "Social media is a slang term for the current state of the internet," he said. He stressed that most are underestimating how central mobile devices will be to our lives. He points out that the world has crossed the point of "mobile first" and is now headed at full speed to a "mobile only" status.
His final point was especially impressive. "I hope you understand that the biggest point of my talk this morning is that if you are not digitally native, you will die. The people that are, are going to take your business. Do you know what I'm most worried about? Success. That is my enemy because you become complacent. Why do I need to figure out Facebook video or Snapchat? I'm good now. I don't need this."
Last week's 2016 edition of Inman Connect upheld the event's finest traditions and historic role as one of the first stops for introducing technological innovation and creativity.
One of the challenges that comes with the Inman Connect experience is balancing the visions of what one sees at the event with the reality of how long industries, such as real estate, take to actually institutionalize change and innovation. The fact is that such matters always take longer than one would imagine. But of equal importance is understanding the length of time that it takes to prepare one's self and organization to move to the next level. It is just the nature of how economic cultures work. If what appeared at last week's Inman Connect is any indication, the American real estate industry is in for an exciting ride over its next decade, but the task of preparing must start yesterday rather than tomorrow.