The Beginner Real Estate Agent’s Guide to RE BarCamps
By Seth Price
About Agent Basics
From Inman Real Estate Connect to the REALTORS® Conference and Expo, myriad real estate agent seminars and events take place year-round. Unfortunately, many of these real estate conferences come around only once a year, leaving many agents eagerly waiting until next year. However, there’s one series of mini real estate agent conferences that takes place regularly throughout the year in cities worldwide: Real Estate (RE) BarCamps.
From Local to Global: The Evolution of RE BarCamps
A barcamp is “an international network of user-generated conferences” as defined on the RE BarCamp website, and it allows for spontaneous, off-the-cuff conversations among those in the techsphere. The idea for RE BarCamps came from the San Francisco Bay Area. California-based Mason McDuffie Real Estate Founding Partner and Realtor Andy Kaufman saw how successful technology-based barcamps were because everyone in attendance was able to speak their minds on the very current topics. Shortly after, the barcamp model made its way to the real estate community, and RE BarCamps were born — not just in one city, but throughout the U.S.
“RE BarCamp came about because there was a need in the industry for an event where real estate professionals could gather outside the confines of a traditional conference,” said Kaufman. “Social networking technology was changing the industry and allowing us to make lots of new connections online. What we needed was to take those newfound connections offline so that we could build on them and also learn from each other.”
“I had already participated in barcamp events in the Bay Area, but they were almost always focused on tech,” Kaufman added. “During one of those events, I thought it would be great to have a barcamp focused on the real estate industry. That’s what spawned the first RE BarCamp in San Francisco in July 2008.”
“If you don’t see what you’re looking to learn, you can submit your own idea.”
— Teri Conrad
Think of any major city nationwide, and chances are you’ll find a RE BarCamp there. The conference has even expanded to select cities in Canada, Europe, and Australia. The benefit of hosting these events throughout the country is that agents who otherwise can’t travel to major industry conferences on the other side of the States (or world) get to partake in unique conversations with their peers, on everything from general business practices to the state of the housing market to expert real estate marketing ideas.
Agents Gain Expertise, Build Relationships at RE BarCamps
Countless agents have attended RE BarCamps in the past six years, each coming away with unique impressions from the respective conferences they attended.
Joe Schutt, who is the Broker-Owner of Boston-based Unit Realty Group along with Erik Schubert — both of whom ran the most recent Boston RE BarCamp event — said the vast amount of unique ideas that flow from the conference makes for an exciting and educational time.
“Don’t prepare. Just show up with an open mind and take it all in.”
— Ara Mamourian
“There are a lot of ideas out there, and there is always a different way of doing things,” said Schutt. “Keeping an open mind and trying new things is very advantageous.”
Kaufman indicated the real estate agent networking that occurs at the events often leads to new, beneficial relationships for many attendees — just like it did for him.
“My biggest takeaway has been the lifelong connections that I’ve made from organizing, participating, and helping others organize their events,” said Kaufman. “In fact, I got to know my future (now current) wife through RE BarCamp, and a number of our wedding guests were among those connections I made throughout its existence.”
Valerie Garcia, Director of Training for the Toronto-based RE/MAX Integra, noted each agent who attends a RE BarCamp brings their own unique viewpoints to the table, which makes the conversations and real estate agent networking more engaging.
“Everyone brings a different perspective,” said Garcia. “The discussion and debate at these events are so valuable, if you are willing to remain open to different points of view … The free-flowing format allows for ideas to grow and adapt, depending on who is in the room.”
Live Love Realty Broker Team Owner and The Geeky Girls Co-Founder and CEO Laurie Weston Davis said building relationships and hearing from like-minded real estate pros are her greatest takeaways from her experiences at the mini conferences.
“I have attended RE BarCamps all across the country, and the thing that I have found is that, for the most part, we all have the same struggles,” Davis noted. “I love going to RE BarCamps because everyone is willing to share the unique knowledge they have. I always learn something new and, probably more important to me, I have an opportunity to build great relationships with other agents.”
“Lots of people will pitch ideas, but what you are looking for is proof that the ideas work.”
— Jack Miller
Determining her favorite aspect of the real estate agent conference proved easy for Agent Quest Founder and Coach Teri Conrad, stating the conversational, laid-back atmosphere is a big plus.
“Hands down, the best thing about RE BarCamp is the format,” said Conrad. “If you don’t see what you’re looking to learn, you can submit your own idea. The conference bolsters creativity among the entire group of attendees. People learning from each other — it’s a beautiful thing.”
Come Ready to Share Insights, Absorb Information
Preparation for attending a RE BarCamp depends on the person you ask. Kaufman, for instance, noted you simply need to be ready to participate in the discussions held at the real estate conference. “You’re not an attendee — you’re a participant,” Kaufman stated.
Meanwhile, Conrad relayed having a list of questions ready you want answered by peers is another great way to prep accordingly.
Jacy Riedmann, Vice President of social media campaign firm Amoura Productions, urged reciprocity for those attending their first RE BarCamp. “Come with an open mind,” she noted. “You may hear new things about old tools that you’ve written off that have greatly improved. Come willing to share knowledge as well as take in new information.”
T3 Experts CEO Jack Miller said paying close attention to the various topics of discussion is essential. However, he noted not all ideas are created equal. “Listen carefully for grounding of results,” said Miller. “Lots of people will pitch ideas, and what you are looking for is proof that the ideas work.”
“Discussion and debate are so valuable, if you’re willing to have an open mind.”
— Valeria Garcia
Narrowing down goals seems to be a theme for those taking part at RE BarCamps, but Toronto-based Spring Realty Owner and Broker of Record Ara Mamourian took that mindset to another level. Mamourian indicated the best way to prepare for RE BarCamps is to … well … not prepare. “Don’t prepare,” he said. “Just show up with an open mind and take it all in.”
One of the most pertinent pieces of advice for attending these real estate seminars came from Jeff Turner, President of RealSatisfied. He noted it’s imperative that agents who attend be active and ready to contribute — a lot.
“This isn’t a ‘sit-back-and-watch’ conference,” said Turner. “The best RE BarCamps are the ones that elicit the greatest interaction among the participants.”
Read our post The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Industry Conferences and Events to expertly plan your agent event schedule for the year ahead.
Do you plan to attend a RE BarCamp in the near future? If so, share what you hope to learn at the real estate agent conference below!
Published on September 16, 2014
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.