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Welcome to Chicago, REALTORS®

IMG_3417_smallIt’s been 16 years since the National Association of REALTORS® hosted its annual Conference & Expo in Chicago. But now it’s back with anticipation reminiscent of a long-awaited Star Wars episode: Return of the REALTORS®.

So, welcome back to the “City of the Big Shoulders,” a fitting setting for the 20,000 real estate professionals and industry leaders who will descend on McCormick Place—the largest convention center in North America. If you haven’t already registered, there’s still time to do so online and on-site. But for those of you who won’t be attending, we invite you to follow along with REALTOR® Magazine’s coverage right here on our blog.

For those who will be attending, hold on to your REALTOR® pins, because you’re in for an action-packed six days of networking and education that help you expand your brand, grow your business, apply new tools, and enhance your client service.

Don’t you love being in the know? The one in your office who’s up on current real estate and economic trends? The conference can help you be that person. Whether it’s learning how economic conditions may change in 2018 and beyond from Lawrence Yun in the Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum on Friday, Nov. 3, or getting an action plan for how to be a better, more effective sales leader from Alicia Matheson’s Evolutionary Leadership session on Sunday, Nov. 5, the conference has it all. Shameless plug: REALTOR® Magazine is also hosting a session on Sunday, Nov. 3, which is all about connecting and communicating with millennial clients. We’d love to see you there.

As you’re planning your schedule for the next several days, be sure to download the REALTORS® Conference & Expo app in the App Store and Google Play. But if you’re looking for other apps that will help you navigate the city, check out five recommendations from Jacy Riedmann of Amoura Productions. I love that she included the Transit app, as taking public transportation in Chicago is a must. I’d also throw in there the CTA Tracker app as a helpful tool.

One of the biggest benefits of attending the conference is networking and connecting with other real estate professionals from around the country. I advise new conference goers put their phones down and talk to the people around them. Strike up a conversation with someone sitting beside you ahead of a session, or the person standing next to you in line, like Sylvia Seabolt and Quincy Clayton did at the Foreigner concert during the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco. I love Dan Wagner’s story about striking up a conversation with a stranger on a shuttle bus ride, because it goes to show you never know who you’re going to meet.

But there are times when you want to pick up your phone and connect with someone you met at the conference. So, managing broker and networking extraordinaire Marki Lemons-Rhyal has some great tips for maximizing your time and networking opportunities.

While you’re in town, we hope you’ll also take a little time to see our lovely city. There are many outstanding tours, museums, and attractions that are must-sees for a first-time Chicago traveler. I personally love the Architectural Boat Tour (if it’s not too cold) and the Art Institute of Chicago. Here are a few of my favorite Chicago spots that I like to share with out-of-town guests: Chinatown—take the Red Line train from downtown south to the Chinatown exit or take a cab/Lift/Uber from McCormick, and you’ll find many cute shops and excellent restaurants. Havana is a Cuban restaurant downtown on Clark Street with delicious food and live music some evenings, too. The John Hancock building’s Signature Room is totally worth it for a view with a cocktail. The best sushi in Chicago is Tanoshii Sushi in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Sushi Mike is the chef and he’s amazing; sit at the intimate bar and he’ll serve you himself. While you’re in that neighborhood, visit the shops in the area. Hot Chocolate on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park is excellent for dinner, dessert, and fancy drinks. Get a hot chocolate while you’re there, obviously! If you’re looking for more tips on getting the most out of your time here, be sure to check out the REALTOR® Mag Conference Picks magazine in your registration packet.

I look forward to seeing all your Instagram and Facebook selfies during your conference adventures. Don’t forget to use #narannual so we can find you. Cheers!

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Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at echristoffer@realtors.org.

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