There’s always something to howl about

REBarcamp: It’s not just for Realtors anymore

Got any thoughts about REbarcamp? I’m not even sure how to spell it. But I went to REbarcamp in Columbus OH-I-O, and had a mahvelous time. The venue was nice, clean, easy for the navigationally challenged to navigate, no waiting lines at the Ladies Room. What more could we ask for? It was well-organized, and the organizers were accommodating.

A question came up while I was there: Would I go to another rebc? It gave me pause. I like to meet people, so I would certainly be looking for another opportunity to do that again. But rebc? I’m not so sure. I really dislike conferences in general, and on the drive home, just like I did after BHBU, I pondered what I would do to improve my rebc experience.

I did get it wrong about rebc sponsorships, btw. No one pays any attention to who is sponsoring anything, so that is a total non-issue. If you are using sponsorship as advertising, well, um, yeah. Of course the highlight was meeting people I only know online. Meeting face-to-face is one of the best reasons to go to most real estate functions, and rebc is no exception to the rule. What was so wonderful about rebc/OH-I-O is that the vast majority of people there were corn-fed Ohioans, just like me. My people. We have a common bond, we speak the same language, there is an ease and familiarity that follows. I really loved that more than I can express, so I would look for opportunities to get together locally and share ideas- that’s all barcamp is about, right? So here’s where it gets a little sticky to me. What is the big deal?

Call it Midwest practicality, but it’s local Realtors. And we are talking about local real estate. Think about it. When did this become hoopla-worthy? When did you need a name, an umbrella organization, a fancy venue, a nearby hotel, a website, a logo, sponsors, organizers, nationally known speakers, in order to share ideas about local real estate?

And so. Come with me to a little meeting with Jesus. I want to get together with other Realtors who are working in the same sort of conditions I am. I want to share things in an as efficient manner as possible. I want to learn as much as possible. That’s really all rebc is set up to do, isn’t it? Unless. Unless I have a product to promote. But if I don’t have anything to promote, then it’s not a big deal, right? I had a good time, but my brain didn’t explode, so would I take the time again? I don’t know.

Okay, untwist yer panties. I understand that several rebarcamps are Inman appendages of sorts, and they need to be a big deal, designed to accommodate a lot of people, and bless the organizers for getting those done so quickly and efficiently, but this is you and me, we are just folks, just Realtors out in flyover country, in little towns and small cities, no legends in our own minds. We don’t need a venue. What we need is to actively seek out a few like-minded folks in our area, a wifi, and the desire become better Realtors, because all the snazzy tools in the word don’t add up to squat if I’m not doing the best job I can. And here’s what I realized on the way home- I can do all this without months of frenzied organization, and corporate approval, and the beauty part is, the simpler it is, the more likely it will be to continue on a regular basis. So, little me is thinking that what I should be doing is contacting those local folks that “get it”, to use the cool kid’s vernacular, and say something along the lines of “Hey, we are both concerned about quality real estate, Panera has wifi, wanna do coffee? Cool. See ya then.” Done. Next.

Back to rebc, here’s the thing that has me flummoxed, whatever good intentions rebc started out with, something about it becoming a movement- an rebc in every town- doesn’t quite make sense, and in the back of my head I can’t shake this little bit of tin foil millinery: Either I really don’t get it, highly possible, or, maybe there is something being promoted that would require a captive audience. Because when you think about it, a local rebc is just real estate professionals talking about real estate, which really isn’t such a big deal after all.


16 Comments so far

  1. Tom Vanderwell August 21st, 2009 6:48 pm

    Of course the highlight was meeting people I only know online. Meeting face-to-face is one of the best reasons to go to most real estate functions, and rebc is no exception to the rule.


    Love you for it – very well said! That was the highlight of the rebarcamp chicago portion of my trip!


  2. Teri Lussier August 22nd, 2009 5:19 am

    Hi Tom-

    I hear that a lot, don’t you? So… Yeah, we need to have more meet-ups. IRL is always the part that is most memorable, and when I was asked if I’d go to another, that’s what I said- I really like to see everyone, so maybe. But I don’t really want to facilitate a session which leaves me sitting, and I don’t like to sit, so. Yeah. A meet-up where the conversation really does flow naturally and organically, and regularly, might be the best thing.

    And I know how much work these things are to put together. There shouldn’t have to be so much work for the IRL to happen.

  3. Elaine Reese August 22nd, 2009 7:06 am

    I’m always open to learning new ways to increase my business but I want to hear it from an agent who is actually earning money by doing whatever they are recommending. No money = no credibility. Maybe that’s just that Midwest practicality. πŸ™‚

  4. Mark Madsen August 22nd, 2009 7:10 am

    I went to my first rebc in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and came back fired up to hold something similar that focused more specifically on mortgage originator’s needs.

    Just like you said, Teri, the real education is in the conversations. I guess most of the bar camps pull more locals than outsiders, but I would think that one of the valuable benefits of these meet-ups is creating an environment where we’d have the opportunity to meet professionals from other markets.

    Either way, I will fully agree with your mind blowing comment about the scenius at Unchained. I’m looking forward to the next BHB event.


  5. Robert Worthington August 22nd, 2009 7:15 am

    Teri, I love your thoughts on sponsorships as a form of advertising! Can you say waste of capital? πŸ™‚ So all in all would you recommend attending the rebarcamp?

  6. Teri Lussier August 22nd, 2009 8:17 am

    Hi Elaine-

    You were missed.

    >No money = no credibility.

    Duly noted. πŸ™‚


    >I went to my first rebc in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and came back fired up to hold something similar that focused more specifically on mortgage originator’s needs.

    It did occur to me that the rebcs that are held in conjunction with Inman might be worth the time, due to the sheer amount of people and that many of us have been having online conversations for years now- it’s an extension of the same conversations we have on a regular basis with people we rarely get to see f2f. I completely understand how powerful that is. I’d like to see that idea pared down and hyper-localized.

    The organization of the thing detracts from the purpose. Events make me bristly, I suppose. I’m rarely the target market for conferences, events, organizations. I’m always the target for a casual get-togethers, small groups that function under the radar. I’m a dog, but I’m an underdog. πŸ˜‰

    But. I know that I’m not alone. There are people who read this blog and never comment, rarely make their presence known. This post is really for them. They don’t need to hitch their wagon to the rebc brand. They can just find a public library, a wifi and a table (our local Boards should allow for us to use a room for that, don’t you think. That would be a nice use of dues) and contact their favorite professionals in the area, just to share notes.

    We talk to each other all the time now anyway. It’s not like we are hidden. Just put it out there, share best practices, encourage a small circle of friends, and Ta da. Better working environment for all us. Internally driven change- the best way to drive the bums out of the business. I have a dream…

    Hi Robert-

    >So all in all would you recommend attending the rebarcamp?

    Depends on your goals. If you want to meet many of the people who you know online, I’d go to the networking event prior to a big rebc- SF or NYC- that way you can talk to everyone you want to talk to, then, if you still feel you need to go, take the rule of 2 feet to heart and do not waste a moment in a session that isn’t working for you. Don’t allow any one person to monopolize the conversation, it’s not a lecture, and call bs when you see it- all things I’m not good at. See why it doesn’t work for me? πŸ™‚

  7. Joe Spake August 22nd, 2009 9:03 am

    Strangely enough, there don’t seem to be enough Web 2.0 realtors in my vicinity to put together a rebc. I am still teaching classes at our organization on beginner social media for realtors.
    That being said, when I see posts and tweets about the various rebc’s popping up everywhere, I think of Jeff’s Turner’s brilliant admonition “Hunt the deer, not the hunters”.
    I have come to believe that I can get more useful information and build more whuffie from meetups with a more general population of folks who “get it” as opposed to realtors (and vendors to realtors) who “get it”.
    However, I think the REBar Camp at NAR in San Diego will be priceless.

  8. Vance Shutes August 22nd, 2009 9:41 am


    As another “rust belt” agent who shares many of your thoughts on REBCs, maybe there really is something to that Midwest practicality.

    It’s a lot more fun interacting on-line after a F2F meeting – in many ways, the words echo off the screen into my ears, as though the writer and I are standing right there together. Your words mean more to me after we met at BHBU and a quick F2F in O-HI-O last summer. Tom Vanderwell’s articles and video posts mean more to me after he and I met in Detroit earlier this year. Impromptu meet-ups are the best.

    We’ve danced around the idea of a “rust belt” F2F for 2.0 Realtors for a while. Maybe it’s time. Something simple, before the snow flies. Only one rule – participants must be commentors here at BHB. What say you?

  9. Billie Hillier August 22nd, 2009 9:58 am

    I have clients who say REBar Camp is the best educational event they attend all year. The tips of the trade, updates on technology and the soundboarding of others is a great learning experience.

    It’s too bad you say attendees don’t care who sponsor – I have sponsored several REBar Camps to support the event so it’s free to the attendees.

    I am sure a lot has to do with the speakers who show, the program structure and the participation level of the attendees to make it a well-rounded true learning experience.

  10. Teri Lussier August 22nd, 2009 10:14 am

    Hiya Joe!

    I removed “Realtor” from my twitter profile. And whaddya know? People want to talk more. I can attract more deer with camouflage. I think you are right about the professionals that might be able to use soc med- insurance, title officers, lenders, restaurants, small business owners, etc. It’s just more fun to talk to a wide range of people, and as GenuineChris always says, find out how you can help them- not only with real estate, but with their businesses. Pulling together builds strong bonds. Wonder Bread for the whuffie (I really dislike that name… )


    I thought of you while I was writing this. I’m always game for a meet up, so yes, let’s make a point to do that soon.

    >participants must be commentors here at BHB

    hmmm. There are people who are lurkers and that’s okay with me, but, it would be nice if no one was hostile to BHB. LOL! That’s my goal. Find the non-hostile real estate pros in the Midwest and meet up with them.

  11. Elaine Reese August 22nd, 2009 10:42 am

    Don’t know about your Board, but we have a Tech Users committee. I’m the chair this year. In the Fall, we select the topics we want to learn more about during the upcoming year, then members volunteer to moderate (not present) that subject. We meet monthly for 90 min and have an open discussion about the topic. Gloria Cannon and Lisa Foster both participated this past year. I find that to be more productive and worthwhile format. It’s also helps develop good business relationships with fellow agents to make the co-oping go smoother which is a benefit to our clients.

    Jeff’s “hunt the deer” is perfect. Too many lose sight of that.

  12. Trace August 22nd, 2009 12:03 pm

    I’m a huge fan of Bar Camps and REBar Camps….whether or not the content is on point with your local market or not, it provides a great structure for meeting new people and exchanging ideas… I recall somebody saying that the best sessions they attend are the ones where all the chairs are in a circle / group discussion style… I have to agree with that sentiment. At REBARCamp LA I ended up with abou 6 people and one of the Altos Research guys, it was an awesome experience.

    It’s long overdue, but we’re going to be launching MortgageBarCamp in the coming months. I believe Todd Carpenter had some “mini” mortgagebarcamps inside REBarCamps in the past and Rhonda Porter is also doing the same in the future, but after attending REBarCamp LA I realized I hadn’t met a single mortgage person the entire time… that’s when it was clear there was a need…

    My hope is that there will be cross pollination with RE peeps, so it will give us a chance to learn about mortgage centric topics, while also hanging out with our favorite brave RE peeps that want to venture to the mortgage side for a day or two. πŸ™‚

  13. Teri Lussier August 22nd, 2009 12:56 pm

    Hi Billie-

    >REBar Camp is the best educational event they attend all year.

    That’s great.


    I appreciate the information, but if I’m not a conference kind of chick, I’m not a candidate for a Board committee. I’m just not that into organizations. And I know I’m not alone. There’s, I’m going to get into trouble here, but there’s a lot of dumbing down that goes on once something becomes a committee, a conference, a large organized group. I’ve seen it over and over and I’d love for someone to show me the real estate exception to that.


    >we’re going to be launching MortgageBarCamp in the coming months.

    Thanks for the warning. πŸ˜‰ Who’s “we” btw?

    >our favorite brave RE peeps that want to venture to the mortgage side for a day or two.

    At BHBU Orlando I had the choice to have lunch w/ Realtors or have lunch w/ lenders. I picked the group that looked the most fun. Made some great mortgage connections that day.

  14. Todd Carpenter September 1st, 2009 11:20 am

    Teri, this isn’t the first time you’ve asked why agents can’t just get in a room and have a casual meeting. Yet, you still haven’t planed one, have you?

    Of course this would work. In San Francisco this summer, I organized my own casual mini meetup of 18 people the day before RE BarCamp and it went awesome! So what are you waiting for?

    I think people put way to much thought into this.

  15. Teri L September 1st, 2009 7:53 pm

    Planning two, Todd, thanks for asking.

  16. Doug Francis September 4th, 2009 1:21 pm

    When I drove 3 hours to RE BarCamp in Virginia Beach, I did it with an attitude of sharing my experience whenever it seemed appropriate. Many folks were there to listen and some asked 101 questions… as there was a wide range of experience.

    Luckily there was some real talent and it turned out to be a successful “ad-hoc” gathering. There was energy and excitement which made it work.

    Partly out of frustration, I put together a blog post with resources for newbies to read before they show up. Too much quality information was shared that went right over the heads of 40% of the room!