Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.


Our team just returned from an insightful and exciting five days in New York City for Inman Connect – an event where 3,500 of the best and brightest in the real estate industry come together to network and share ideas. It may just be us, but it feels like the week goes by quicker and quicker each year. Time flies when you’re having fun!

The Marriott Marquis in Times Square was buzzing with top influencers and leaders from the industry sharing innovative ideas and valuable content. Ask anyone, and they will tell you—the people make the conference, and the energy is simply contagious. We’re already looking forward to Inman Connect SF, so as we count down until August, we’ll count down our favorite moments from Inman Connect NY.

7) Sponsoring Inman’s CEO Connect. We had the pleasure of sponsoring Inman’s CEO Connect event this year at the New York Times headquarters. Our CEO, Scott Olsen, and VP of Business Development, Myron Lo, attended the event and enjoyed hearing from and meeting some of the industry’s top leaders and innovators. Key highlights included an industry overview from Trulia’s economist who discussed themes for 2017 and stressed the importance of compression of the transaction, noted that consumer confidence is high but partisan, and predicts mortgage rates won’t go above five or five and half percent. During the female leadership panel, all three of the women in real estate knew Donald Trump personally and professionally, and shared that they were optimistic about his presidency.

6) Meeting with our current and prospective partners. Amidst the chaos of the conference, we managed to schedule time to catch up with our current partners, including the Council of Residential Specialists, Down Payment Resource, and Giveback Homes, just to name a few. We’ve also got some exciting opportunities in development with Concierge Auctions and Katie Lance Consulting.

5) Reconnecting with the Inman Ambassadors. If this was your first Inman Conference, you probably saw a group of people running around tirelessly making connections, answering questions, Snapchatting, and tweeting. These are the Inman Ambassadors—a group of leaders in the industry and Inman Connect veterans who are led by Joe Schutt and Laurie Weston Davis. It was great reconnecting with them as well as with other ambassadors, including Nikki Beauchamp, Wendy Foreman, Danielle Riley, Sara Sutachan, and Billy Ekofo.

4) Sallie Krawcheck: Own It! The Power of Women at Work. As we mentioned earlier, Inman attracts the best and brightest—and, CEO and co-founder of the digital investment platform for women, Sallie Krawcheck, was no exception. Sallie shared insights on some of the challenges she faced working as a financial analyst. She spoke about the need for companies to be more diverse, explaining, “There is such power in diversity. A crowd full of difference makes better results.”

3) Diana Nyad: Execution Perfection When Your Life Depends on It. Inman Connect is known for having exceptional keynote speakers. Last August at Inman Connect SF, the keynote speaker was serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, and this time it was champion swimmer, author and speaker Diana Nyad. Diana shared her epic journey of completing the 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64. Her biggest message to the audience was simple: don’t quit. Regardless of where you want to go, what you want to do, or who you want to be, never give up. She concluded her inspiring talk by reminding us, “When you achieve your dream, it’s not about what you get, but who you become.”

2) Hosting a party with BoomTown and BomBomb. On Wednesday night, we took a brain break from the conference to host a party alongside BoomTown and BombBomb at Bowlmor Times Square. It was a fun night, filled with catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and brushing up on our bowling skills. A big thanks to everyone who came out and joined us!

1) Seeing our ReferralExchange members. By far, our favorite part of any conference is getting to see our network members in person. A special thank you to our agents who stopped by our kiosk including Michael Hines, Chris Chapin, Ray Lord, Travis Waller, Lance Levine, and Christina Valkanoff. Our talented network of top agents is the foundation of our business and we couldn’t do what we do without you!

If you missed the conference altogether, check out the #ICNY hashtag on Twitter for pictures and coverage from the week!

Abstract illustration of business network grid

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted referral. A trusted referral is the holy grail of advertising.” –Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook  

As a new year begins, it’s important to nurture your referral network in a variety of ways so that you continue to stay top-of-mind. Keep your contacts organized and updated in a Google drive or CRM to make your interactions with them more effective. Recording notes on each person such as when you last spoke with them and important details (e.g., dog lover, five kids) or notable dates (e.g., birthdays, relocation), will guide when and how you reach out to them. You could even take it a step further by ranking your referral source database so you can prioritize and thank your “VIP referrers.” Use this valuable information to inform your interactions with your referral network both online and offline.


It’s 2017, so yes – there are endless ways to stay top-of-mind in this digital world we live in.

  • Add your trusted referral network to your monthly newsletter or email list
  • Consistently share valuable content on your blog
  • Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and LinkedIn
  • Host a live Q&A session on Facebook or Twitter to answer questions
  • Send them an email to check in
  • Invite them to your upcoming webinar
  • Alert them when vendors are offering discounted services such as painting, gutter cleaning or leaf blowing in the fall


As creative as you can get with engaging online, there is nothing more impactful than in-person connections.

  • Pop-by their office or home with a thoughtful gift
  • Host a client appreciation party or event (e.g., sports game, happy hour)
  • Send them a handwritten thank you note or holiday card
  • Treat them to a cup of coffee at a new local café
  • Invite them to your seminar or speaking engagement
  • Meet up with old clients who have relocated when you’re in their city for work
  • Pick up the phone to check in and say hello

Regardless of how you stay in touch with your sphere of influence, it’s imperative to nurture these relationships both online and offline. At the end of the day, if they or someone they know has a real estate need, you want them to immediately think of one person: you.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.


“Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.” —Albert Schweitzer

The holidays are a great time to pause, reflect and recharge. It’s also a great time to give back to those who are less fortunate.

We recently joined our partner Giveback Homes on an unforgettable build trip to Nicaragua to help build a home for the Garcia family — who, like many, are living in inadequate housing. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, we worked alongside several Giveback Homes members, as well as Lion & Orb and Concierge Auctions to give the family of eight a safe and stable place to call home. You can view pictures from the trip here.

In the spirit of giving, we wanted to share five easy ways you can give back this holiday season:

  1. Collect used coats, clothes or toys at your office to donate. Donating your gently-used coats is a great way to clean out your closet while giving back. Our Sacramento offices are currently gathering coats and toys to donate to One Warm Coat for local needy families.
  2. Give to a charitable organization in your client’s name. Consider personalizing your donation by choosing a cause close to your client’s heart: animal shelters for pet owners, a children’s hospital for families, third world entrepreneurs for business moguls, etc. Giveback Homes also has both local and international build projects you can donate to on behalf of your client.
  3. Get active while giving back. Consider signing up for a charity race to raise money for a good cause. A local Jingle 5k Walk/Run asked for participants to bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to local families in need. You could even invite your clients, family and friends to join you!
  4. Host a benefit event. Hosting a benefit event such as a dinner, office party or happy hour is a great way to get others in your community (i.e., co-workers, family and friends, clients) involved too. You could ask guests to bring an item to contribute, host a silent auction or donate all proceeds from the event to a local cause.
  5. Volunteer your time. Donating items or writing a check is great, but giving your time can sometimes be the most rewarding and greatest gift of all. Visiting a nursing home, volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping Wreaths Across America with wreath-laying ceremonies are all things that require only a bit of your time.

If you’re interested in giving beyond the holidays, check out this blog post to see how you can integrate social giving into your business all year long.

Want to join the Giveback Homes movement? Sign-up today, and enter REX as your Building Code to receive the special Pro Member plan rate of $25/month.


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  — Antoine De Saint Exupéry

With less than 40 days left in the year, it’s absolutely time to get ready for 2017. Real estate broker, writer, and speaker, Melissa Zavala, recently joined us for a webinar to share how to clearly define your vision and develop the success strategies necessary to create a game-changing business plan for 2017. Melissa discussed how to:

  • Set personal and professional goals you can achieve.
  • Identify potential obstacles and how you can easily overcome them.
  • Adjust your attitude to stay on track.
  • Stay focused on the right things by using three time-management tips.
  • Implement five hot prospecting and marketing ideas.
  • Measure your success.

As you wrap up 2016, don’t wait until January to start planning and preparing your business for next year.

Understand the market of the moment. Given the recent election, it is crucial that you understand how the new presidency could impact the field of real estate. Melissa referenced articles about this topic in Inman and Forbes. She stressed the importance of reading these articles so that you and your team can react and adapt to market changes.

Review your 2016 performance. Melissa shared her production analysis chart to help agents assess their business in 2016. This chart includes reviewing your transactions and writing down the address, sales price, source, whether it was a buyer or seller who merited the transaction, the community, and the property type. Tip: if you’ve received a lot of business from one specific source, make sure you thank them by sending them something special during the holidays. Melissa also suggested looking at your sources of business, which may have included open houses, cold calls, door knocking, social media, email marketing, referral networks, FSBOs, your personal website, etc. This will help you understand what is working well and what areas and sources of business to explore in 2017.

Identify your strengths. One of the most helpful things you can do is to conduct a DISC Assessment on yourself. A DISC Assessment (Decisive [dominance], Interactive [interpersonal], Stability, Cautious) is a behavioral traits assessment to help you identify your areas of strength. Melissa noted that ninety-five percent of mega-team leaders in real estate show to be “Decisive” and “Interpersonal.” Once you know your own strengths, you can select activities geared toward your strong points for your business, thereby leveraging your personal strengths to become more successful. Simply Google “Free DISC Assessment” to find an online test.

List the best uses of your time. What income-producing activities are you best at? What are the best uses of your time? For example, Melissa makes the most of her time by creating her email newsletter — something she enjoys doing that also provides value to others. A bad use of her time would include answering the phones in their property management division to handle maintenance issues. Simply put, spend your time on things you enjoy doing and are good at.

Consider time wasters. List all the real estate activities that can be done by someone else. This might include delivering signs or flyers, meeting a home inspector or scanning documents. Ask yourself: Do I have to do this myself or can someone else do it for me? Delegate these tasks to someone else so that you can focus on income activities.

Identify support staff. Don’t let the “but-it-only-takes-a-few-minutes” excuse trap you into doing tasks you should leave for others. Identify support staff and determine what things you can offload. It’s also worth seeing if preferred providers (e.g., sales representatives, lenders) may be able to help you. For instance, if your client gives you a document that needs to be delivered to the lender, see if someone from the lender’s office or the settlement company sales rep can pick it up from you. You may be surprised how many people around you can save you time.

Create a process for everything you do. Make a list of activities that you consistently do, then write down or record a video of the process for each activity. If there is a process for it, you may not have to do it yourself. Once you do that, create a training manual for areas of business that require processes such as listing management, social media posting, transaction file management, email marketing, internet lead management, and expired or FSBO prospecting.

Create a schedule. Working in real estate can be unpredictable, but you can schedule repeat activities each week to increase productivity. Use a scheduling app that syncs across all your devices, and try not to break the schedule unless there is an emergency (an angry client does not count). Creating a regular schedule that you stick to will have long-term benefits for your business. In addition, everything needs to be on your calendar as it will increase the likelihood that you do it.

Put systems on autopilot. Think about which daily activities can be on autopilot and which ones require minimal human intervention. Here are a few ideas:

  • Drip Campaigns: RSS drip campaigns allow you to send content (e.g., blogs, news) out from your website once per week, and you can easily add new emails to the list.
  • Property Alerts: These are automated daily or weekly alerts as properties come on the market. Internet leads can easily opt-in for automated alerts and you can manually add any buyer prospects.
  • Inbound Marketing Campaigns: Create plans and pathways for different inbound marketing campaigns and use automated responses when applicable.
  • Social Media Posting: Schedule posts in advance and outsource posting when applicable. Use posting platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule and post content across multiple platforms. In addition, make sure you are tracking your results through social media monitoring tools or Google Analytics. Surprisingly, only 45% of marketing CEOs know their results.

Melissa shared her top tools to help you succeed which includes a good CRM, Evernote, Dropbox, calendar app, social media management platform, a reliable email provider, and a solid daily and weekly plan.

Catch the full webinar recording here and organize, prioritize, and strategize for 2017 by downloading Melissa’s Pipeline Planner.

Webinar Recap: The Power of Giving


“The secret to happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” –Dan Dennett


Last week we sat down with Caroline Pinal, co-founder of Giveback Homes, a company that empowers real estate agents to turn their everyday business into an opportunity for social change.

Caroline, who previously worked at TOMS, has always been passionate about making social giving a priority, and inspiring others to do the same. She shared how to:

  • Develop a social-giving plan that works for your business
  • Identify giving partners
  • Determine how much to donate
  • Easily jump-start your giving efforts, no matter your resources

Simply put, doing good is good for business — and integrating social giving into your business has never been easier. Here’s just how simple it can be.

  • Find the “why” for your giving efforts. Why are you doing this? What’s your motivation? What are you passionate about? It’s important to first take the time to figure out why you want to make giving a priority and what causes you to want to connect your business with your passion.
  • Do your due diligence and identify giving partners. Rather than just donating to the first charity that pops up on Google, make sure you do your research on the organizations and charities you are interested in. Charity Navigator enables you to browse and find charities by category to consider (e.g., animals, education, environment, health). Taking the time to vet the organization early on will help ensure your money is going to the right place.
  • Quantify donations, set goals, and celebrate milestones. Sharing how much your business has donated is great, but take it a step further by quantifying the difference you made (e.g., five homes built, 60 gallons of water saved). In addition, setting goals for your giving efforts are just as significant as your business goals — and once you reach them you can celebrate those milestones. Not sure how much you should donate? Caroline recommends starting small and scaling from there. After all, it’s most important to find the right giving partner that will make the biggest impact.
  • Collect and share stories. So how do you share the amazing work you are doing for your community? Through stories. Storytelling is one of the best ways to share your philanthropic efforts and inspire others to share the stories, too. Just as an agent might share their testimonials and client success stories, those same tactics can be applied to sharing how you are giving back. Sharing pictures, writing a blog post and posting on social media are all easy and free outlets for sharing these compelling stories with your customers.
  • Get involved and fully integrate giving into your business. It’s important to find other ways to get involved in addition to making donations. This may include volunteering or inviting your clients to join you at a giving event. For example, Giveback Homes invites their members to join them at local job sites across the country to help build homes for families in need. Check out pictures from the ReferralExchange Build Day in Sacramento.
  • Simplify your message and beware of “cause washing.” Cause washing is inauthentic marketing for good, e.g., brands saying they are giving back more than they are — which is why it’s imperative to be as authentic and transparent as possible with your giving efforts. Don’t just say that you give, show it. When you simplify your message, and giving strategy, it’s easy to remember. Give Realty for example, donates 25% to a non-profit of their clients’ choice at the end of each transaction.
  • Start small, then scale and be flexible. To set yourself up for success, take it step by step. Start small, then figure out what’s working and scale it from there. Be true to your business, know your strengths and weaknesses, and be open to changing it up if you need to. Take things slowly, give responsibly, and do what is most meaningful to you and your customers.

Wherever your social-giving efforts take you, make sure to be authentic; remember it’s okay to start small, be consistent and take time to find the right organization with which to align your giving efforts.

CHALLENGE: Donate time or dollars to a cause you’ve never donated to before. Take note of your experience (e.g., what you liked, how it made you feel) and let Caroline know how you felt and if it had any effect on your giving strategy:


Interested in joining the Giveback Homes movement? Sign-up today, and enter REX as your Building Code to receive the special Pro Member plan rate of $25/month.


 Photo via Stylish Detroit

With the rise of digital marketing and demand for compelling visual content, real estate agents now have to use a wide variety of tactics to reach and engage with their audiences across all platforms. With a heavy reliance on visual images to sell properties, it makes sense that social media is now a great platform to circulate listings.

Without well-shot photographs and carefully crafted captions or hashtags, however, you’ll have trouble driving any real leads from social. Make the most of your efforts with these six tips, which will help improve your listing photos to increase social media engagement.


1. Check your Equipment

High-quality photos usually come from a digital single-lens reflex, most commonly referred to as a DSLR, such as Nikon and Cannon—and that camera doesn’t come cheap.

Luckily, the camera on the new iPhone 7 is just as good, featuring a dual lens camera with a wide-angle lens. What’s most exciting is its ability to take pictures with a larger depth of field, according to a new CouponBox review, allowing you to capture high-quality images on a device you may already have or be planning to update to.

Pro tip: Play with the settings, just as you would with a DLSR, to make sure each photo you take is optimized for the home you’re in.


2. Take Advantage of the Golden Hour

This is the perfect time to photograph your listings, according to CoSchedule. During “Golden hour,” which happens within an hour of sunrise or sunset, the lighting is just right.

If you’re too late for the golden hour, brighten up darker rooms by turning on an overhead light, adding a lamp in a strategic place or even renting professional lights and knock out a few shoots in one day.

Pro tip: In a pinch, brighten your photos with a basic or low-priced editor, or using a filter in Instagram.


3. Set the Scene

When people invest in a home, they’re looking for a place to build their life. Showing them what life could look like inside the home is one of the most important parts of taking listing photos that will increase engagement and drive buyers.

However, that doesn’t mean you want the home to look “lived in” with messy covers and baby toys sprawled across the floor. Before taking any photos, follow this simple checklist:

  • Remove any personal touches such as picture frames or magnets.
  • Replace worn-out furnishings.
  • Check the curtains: Should they be opened all the way or just slightly? (This will help you find the best natural lighting)
  • Find the top feature of the room and highlight that.

Pro tip: If you feature unique interior details, use relevant hashtags to engage with interior designers to get your listing reposted for more potential buyers to see.


4. Think Unique Selling Points

When you’re taking photos of a listing, consider what unique selling points your photographs can capture and then share those on your social sites. Include a link back to the listing page so those who are interested can see the rest of the photos by clicking through.

Pro tip: Each week, post a photo highlighting an amazing feature of a new home. These more “interesting” photos will draw people to follow and engage with you. Use one of these popular real estate hashtags to make sure your photo is seen.


5. Make a Collage

Once you’ve taken the photos, a collage may be the best way to boost your social media engagement. “Splitting the main listing photo, as a collage, allows a potential homeowner to immediately see an interior and exterior shot. Because our homes are beautifully staged, the split listing photo gets a lot of attention and sets it apart from every other one in the MLS and online,” explains Paul Moore, founder of Smith Mountain Homes.

Pro tip: Use Instagram’s built-in tool to quickly and easily to design, edit and share. Connect your account to Facebook and Twitter, and share on all three platforms at once.


6. Use Hashtags

Once you post your photo, the caption should be carefully crafted to resonate with your audience and spark engagement, complete with hashtags.

However, not all hashtags are created equal. They should be relevant to your industry, audience and location. Finally, don’t go overboard; research has found that 7 hashtags are the sweet spot for increasing engagement on Instagram, and just 3 to 4 is ideal on Twitter. As a social media marketer, I’ve seen this work first-hand.

Pro tip: Find hashtags that are trending in your area, since you’ll likely be looking to attract engagement from people locally. For example, Greenville SC has a trending hashtag, #yeahTHATgreenville, that consistently gets engagement. Posting a new listing in Greenville along with the #yeahTHATgreenville is a great way to get engagement and brand impressions.


BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and been in social media and content marketing for five. She’s currently a full-time blogger and has been written for Lifehack, Inman, Reader’s Digest,, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

Modern Keyboard With Colored Social Network Buttons.

“Choose your social channels based on what your clients – and future clients – are using.”

Our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, recently spoke at the California Realtor® Expo and explained the value in embracing the new social media channels that have burst onto the real estate marketing scene. Lisa shared how these social platforms are expanding to touch all generations, and how you can easily integrate Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Live, and Periscope into your everyday marketing.


Snapchat has 100 million users (60% of which are under 24) who spend an average of 19 minutes a day on the platform. While the current audience is young, the largest segment of Snapchat’s growth is with users over 25. Snapchat offers an easy way to tell a story and share quick tips, news, or a sneak peek into your business or personal life that you might not share on any other social channel. Lisa also shared the importance of your Snapcode, how to cross-promote on other channels, track and manage your snaps, identify top users through Ghostcodes, and how you can use custom geofilters to promote your brand. You can view our geofilter from the conference here.  For more on Snapchat, check out our previous blog posts:


Instagram boasts a roster of 500 million users — a little over half of which are between the ages of 18-29 — who spend an average of 20 minutes a day on the platform. Just like Snapchat, there are several ways you can engage your audience, such as sharing photos and videos of new listings, before and after home renovations, home tours and inspirational quotes.

Lisa also stressed the importance of your account settings — making sure your page is public and converted to a business profile so consumers can easily contact you. Sharing meaningful images paired with brief and compelling captions (e.g., questions, call-to-actions) and appropriate hashtags are equally important for success on the platform. In addition, Instagram just introduced Instagram Stories (check out the top of your newsfeed), very similar to Snapchat, however there are no filters and you can only respond via text. If you already have a bigger following on Instagram than you do on Snapchat, it might make more sense for you to embrace Instagram Stories vs. starting from scratch on Snapchat.

Facebook Live/Periscope

Remember the Chewbacca Mask Lady? That video went viral after it was shared via Facebook Live. Similar to Facebook Live, Periscope (10 million users) also allows users to share live videos which can then be posted to social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter for 24 hours. We’ve seen agents use both platforms to do live Q&As, “how to” videos, and share behind the scenes footage at open houses. So what’s the difference between Periscope and Facebook Live? Facebook Live (Lisa’s preferred platform), is already built into Facebook so you can easily broadcast and post videos from your account. It’s also easier to archive videos and target your audience. Periscope on the other hand can be synced with your Twitter account, allows you to sketch while streaming and makes it easier to add relevant hashtags.

In summary, using Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Live, and Periscope can help you provide a candid view into your business, reach new audiences, offer temporary engagement, communicate your company culture and value proposition, and support your visual and virtual business. Regardless of whether you use one or all of the social channels discussed, remember to always be consistent, always be relevant, and don’t be afraid to have fun!

Access the full presentation here, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat!

Content marketing strategy and ideas concept background

Yes, content marketing works! But it’s hard, has many moving parts and doesn’t play directly into a cold-eyed ROI analysis. That was the topic of our recent webinar with Paul Hagey – managing editor at T3 Sixty and founder of HageyMedia.

Paul, who has years of writing and journalism experience, explained the importance of content marketing and shared its components, strategy roles, and goals.

Content Marketing

Simply put, content marketing is a strategic approach to creating and distributing information to attract a specific audience. It’s more important and powerful now than ever because consumer attention is very difficult to attract and maintain. Content Marketing enables you to own your own platform by providing original information that consumers can’t find anywhere else. Paul shared the Denver Ear and Tacoma agent Marguerite Giguere’s websites as two examples of successful content marketing strategies.

Components of Content Marketing

The three components of content marketing include creation (i.e., video, blog posts, photos), distribution via social media channels/email, and measurement (i.e., Google analytics, Facebook insights). Paul stressed that distribution is just as important as the quality of the content you are creating. Measuring your efforts will also help you determine which content is resonating with your audience.


To create a smart content plan, you must clarify your business goals, know your brand, identify your audience, create your content, and distribute and measure it. It’s important to understand your value proposition and what will make you stand out.


Content marketing roles (which can be outsourced or done by you) include strategists, creators, editors, distributors, community managers, and analysts. These are people who think about your business goals and the type of content you want to create, brainstorm ideas, and create and edit content — many things that Paul noted are often overlooked. Community managers help maintain and nurture online relationships by replying to questions and comments. As Katie Lance often reiterates, social media is a two-way street. Lastly, a good analyst will make the time — whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly — to assess what strategy and content is working and what is not.


Before you get started, it’s important to identify your goals for content marketing, otherwise, what’s the point? Some of these goals may include generating new leads, growing your database, increasing SEO and brand awareness, demonstrating expertise and establishing trust with consumers.

The big takeaways from Paul’s presentation include: committing to your content marketing strategy, starting small and building a strong foundation, understanding why you’re doing it, and measuring so you can tweak your strategy along the way.

Want to jumpstart your content marketing efforts? Schedule a free consultation with Paul. 


Earlier this year, we announced our new partnership with Giveback Homes to help create social change through the real estate community. As part of this effort, we recently hosted a  Sacramento Build Day with Giveback Homes and their build partner, Habitat for Humanity.

Forty of our employees volunteered to work across three job sites alongside Giveback Homes agents, Habitat for Humanity members and future home owners. We are incredibly proud of our volunteers who jumped right in and put their handyman skills to work. And we’re especially grateful to Giveback Homes for organizing an amazing day of giving back to our community.

Here’s what a few of our employees had to say about their experience.

“It felt wonderful to know that at the end of the day, a family would truly benefit from our hard work. It was indeed a labor of love and I was happy to be a part of it.” –Michele G.

“It was an experience to remember. I feel as if everyone in their lifetime should have the opportunity and/or take the time to volunteer. It makes you appreciate things more and want to take care of your home and the community around you. Everyone deserves a place to call home.” –Charro T.

“A great day in the sun, getting to know my new co-workers while making a difference in our community. This was a perfect idea. –Phil H.

“What I loved about the experience was the ability for us to come together as a team for a great cause. –Tameka P.

“I really enjoyed doing the work and team work to help to make a family in need dreams come true – can’t wait for next time.” –Jeffrey H.

Check out photos from the build day here. Learn more about Giveback Homes at and Habitat for Humanity at

businessman in airport

Inman Connect San Francisco marks the kickoff to our industry’s busy conference season each year. As we all gear up for several months of booking flights, packing suitcases, and tweaking presentations — here are some tips to help you make the most of your own conference experience.

Get “Conference-ready”

  1. Set your objectives and goals. What are you hoping to get out the conference — new industry connections? A better social media strategy? A new advertising platform? Identifying your objectives and goals upfront will help you prioritize and spend your time wisely.
  2. Plan meetings ahead of time. Depending on the length of the conference, pick three to six people with whom you’d really like to meet, and reach out to them a week or two prior to the conference to get on their calendars. At the same time, be realistic with your time and try to avoid overbooking your schedule. You never know when you might connect with someone new or run into an old friend you didn’t expect to see. Keep things somewhat flexible so you can grab a spontaneous cup of coffee or dinner.
  3. Get packing. Put together a checklist so you don’t forget networking necessities like fresh business cards, batteries/chargers, your preferred device for note-taking (e.g., laptop, iPad, notebook), snacks, and agenda (Pro tip: download the conference app if there is one).

Network and Learn

  1. Get #social. Don’t forget to share your experience with your online followers. Sharing photos and videos on social media and live tweeting is a great way to share your experience with your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat followers. For example, share one new tip you learned each day via an Instagram video. Browsing and using the official conference hashtag in your posts will also help you stay in the loop and conversation.
  2. Be flexible. As we mentioned earlier, try not to overwhelm your schedule. Conferences are a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. At Inman Connect SF, Audie Chamberlain from Lion & Orb shared the conference tip to “stay an extra day and have lunch with someone you just met.”
  3. Enjoy it! As hectic and jam-packed as a conference can feel, don’t forget to enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity for personal and professional development. This is your time away from your clients, the office, and your daily routine – so make sure you soak it up.

Follow-up and Reflect  

  1. Share your insights and takeaways. Now that you’re back in the office with your notes and “aha moments,” share them! Create a Google doc to dump all of your big takeaways and notes for your team to read. Schedule a brainstorming session so you can give your team a conference summary, share ideas and hear their thoughts. Taking the time to reflect on who you’ve met and what you’ve learned can help you effectively implement these new tips and ideas into your business.
  2. Follow up, follow up, follow up. This might be our most important post-conference tip. It’s extremely important to follow up with the people you met. Whether it’s a brief email, handwritten note, or LinkedIn invitation, make sure to follow up within 3-5 days. After all, relationships don’t grow from just seeing someone twice a year at a conference.
  3. Decide if you’ll go again. As you reflect on your time at the conference, think about whether it’s worth attending again. Did you like the size? Was the information shared new or relevant to you? Were the attendees and vendors people with whom you could do business? Hopefully the conference was everything you expected and more. And perhaps next time you’ll want to bring some of your team members to share the experience!

Attending an upcoming conference? Check our conference map to see if we’ll be there!