Just returned from RECon ICSC 2015 and thought to myself….

Was this a successful trip?

Like many folks, I’ve been going for years (yes, I did take a few years off when the recession hit, who didn’t?) and it’s always fun to see so many people that I’ve networked with over the years. This is the one time of year I usually get to see friends in person retail real estate industry working from all around the country.

Each year there is a buildup with anticipation and once you land in Vegas you literally hit the ground running and gunning! The fun usually begins on Sunday night with several parties, then it’s nonstop until late Tuesday, sometimes into Wednesday. One thing I’ve always enjoy about this show is the timing of the year as you always return home exhausted and happy to leave the desert, but looking forward to some hard earned rest and relaxation rolling into the long Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of summer for us folks in the Northeast.

So what are my takeaways from this year’s RECon ICSC 2015 show?

Quality meetings versus quantity. This comes from years of practice. I try to schedule meetings with people where I know there are “real” deals behind the conversations. Even if it’s planting the seeds for 6-12 months out.
Walk the floor and network. Some of the best business development opportunities happen each year just walking the floor, running into people you’ve met in the past (with no intention of scheduling a meeting with) and bam, you’re talking and networking on a new deal, and/or old business that was on the shelf.
Follow up! It blows my mind how many people never follow up and add new connections into their CRM or social network. My first day back in the office is to catalog business cards into my CRM, make notes and action items, or throw the card away. Either way, the key to successful networking is to follow up, not just once but at least quarterly.
Lastly, have some fun and stop complaining. If this was easy work everyone would be doing it!
These ICSC shows and networking are a process and instant gratification only lasts so long. So see you in Boston this summer for the New England Idea Exchange.