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Tips from a Veteran Experience Attendee

Jesse Weinstock, Development Manager, Homestead Funding Corp

With all the excitement surrounding Ellie Mae’s Experience conference next week, I recently took a moment to pause and realized this will be my fourth time attending Experience. I’ve had the privilege of participating in Ellie Mae’s conference for the last three years, and I’ve also attended the Connex Event in 2011 (which was the predecessor to Experience). By now I know my way around the event and have learned a trick or two. I’m honored to share a few of these tips with those who are going to Experience 2017, in hopes that they may provide some insight for making the most of one’s time in Las Vegas next week.

First and foremost, the most important thing to remember is: Do not try to see everything first. The event is two days long and there is enough time to see every booth and every vendor if you want. Look around, shake hands, and say “Hi” to people. The conference is as much a showcase for the products and services as it is a networking event.

Secondly, bring your business cards. I forgot them one year and had a cramp in my hand from writing down my contact information all the time. At vendor booths or at presentations there will be people you’ll want to follow up with. I always take notes about the person on their card to remember what we had talked about. There will be over 3,000 people at the event, and even if you only talk to the people sitting next to you, odds are that will be at least 25 people. And do talk to them. Make friends and learn from your peers. There are many companies trying to do things that have already been done, and the person sitting next to you might be one of those. Learn from each other and have a friend you can reach out to when you need it.

My third tip would be to participate in the discussions whenever you can. There are many opportunities for voicing your opinion on a wide variety of topics. Everyone has questions, but many people are too reserved to ask. There are no bad questions except the question left unasked. Ellie Mae is listening. They have proven year after year that they take things away from Experience just as much as clients do. There are polls on how to improve breakout sessions, interactive demos with product managers, and usually a big design question that attendees are encouraged to participate in. The more a person brings to Experience, the more he or she can get out of it.

Finally, enjoy your time there. There are many opportunities to relax and have some fun. Many impromptu gatherings happen around the conference and there are a few social gatherings driven by Ellie Mae. This is the time to kick back and relax or dance the night away. You never know who you’ll bump into, from random clients you may have spoken with in various forums, to the CEO of Ellie Mae himself.

Have a great time and come back next year!

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