The Apartmentalize NAA (National Apartment Association) conference is one of the largest events in the multifamily housing industry, bringing together professionals from across the country to network, learn, and explore the latest trends and innovations. To make the most of this opportunity, it’s essential to have a well-thought-out plan that covers every stage of the event, from preparation to follow-up. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide that I have learned through the past 25+ years to help you navigate the process.

Pre-Conference Planning

  • Set Clear Objectives
    • Before diving into logistics, define what you aim to achieve at the conference. Are you looking to generate leads, strengthen existing relationships, or promote a new product? Having clear goals will help you focus your efforts and measure success. 
    • Once you establish these objectives, break your plan into “buckets of urgency” that help you aim small when trying to connect with your target audience. This applies to Operators or Suppliers in our space…both sides are equally important to your success!!
      • Your smallest bucket is the “Must See” folks that you have to see no matter what (even if you have to wait at the bottom of the hotel elevator or find out their favorite drink and deliver it to them…yep, I have done both as well as many others, haha). This list should be no more than 20 people, but I have the most success the more narrow it is and the more prepared you are. Make it worth these people’s time to interact with you…even if it is to get to know them better, which should be your #1 objective. This list is generally folks you have never met but can be vital to your future success (professionally or personally)
      • The next bucket is “Need to See” and this bucket generally happens naturally because of your efforts on bucket 1. This list should also be small but ok if ~25 people and you are actively seeking these interactions, but not as focused as your must-see folks.
      • The last bucket is “Nice to See,” and these are people you have been associated with for a long time but are across the country, and you want to catch up, or people you have heard of and wanted to meet at some point. As you can guess, this is the fun bucket and where you generally meet new faces through introductions…this bucket is VERY important because it leads to future business and long-term relationships. 
  • Budget and Resources
    • Determine your budget for the event. Consider costs for registration, travel, accommodation, booth setup, marketing materials, and any additional expenses. Assign responsibilities within your team to ensure everything is covered.
    • ROI is very difficult to attribute, but if you are focused, this value becomes easier to identify.
    • If a Supplier, your Booth Design and Marketing Materials are key…
      • Your booth is your primary touchpoint with attendees with whom you have not set “outside the show” meetings. Invest in an eye-catching design that reflects your brand. Ensure you have ample marketing materials, such as brochures, business cards, and promotional items. Digital displays and interactive elements can also attract more visitors. 
  • Pre-Event Marketing
    • Leverage social media, email campaigns, and your website to create buzz around your participation. Announce your booth number, special events, or promotions you’ll be offering at the conference. Engaging content can help draw attendees to your booth, and remind people they have been wanting to interact with you, and this is the perfect opportunity. 
    • CAUTION, don’t be lazy…DO NOT spam your contact lists, and DO make sure you do your homework and scrub your list of “non-relevant” people. If you’re a Supplier and trying to book a meeting to discuss your product or service, you should not email Suppliers. If you use sales enablement and push a button to everyone (I do not like this approach), make sure it is “intimate” messaging and not just a crappy attempt at a volume game that the same person may get 3-4 times. This is disingenuous and will backfire like crazy. I receive 10-12 emails a DAY in the weeks leading up to NAA and I have C-Level friends that receive 2-3x that. Be mindful and make sure you write well-thought-out emails with a compelling reason for that person to meet with you!

During the Conference

  • Booth Management
    • Staff your booth with knowledgeable and personable team members. Train them to engage with visitors effectively, qualify leads, and collect contact information. Ensure they understand your products and services inside out.
    • Remember that the show is a “time warp” for everyone, including the clients you have set meetings with. This is even very hard for me, but be more flexible and patient with time because at times, it can be extremely difficult and time-consuming to even walk a few rows down the trade show floor.
  • Networking
    • Attend sessions, workshops, and networking events to connect with industry professionals. Engage in conversations, exchange business cards, and make notes on potential leads. Use the conference app to schedule meetings with key contacts.
  • Host Events
    • If possible, organize a small event or reception to attract more visitors to your booth and provide a relaxed environment for deeper conversations. This can help you stand out and create lasting impressions.
    • If you cannot organize your own events, hang out in the host hotel’s bar and restaurant area and mingle. You do not need to drink to meet great folks; just get involved, and don’t be shy!
  • Collect and Organize Leads
    • Use a lead capture system to record information from visitors. Whether it’s a digital app or old-fashioned pen and paper, ensure every interaction is documented. Note any specific interests or follow-up actions for each lead for post-show follow-up.
    • I LOVE using HiHello because you can create up to 4 profiles for FREE, it is very easy to use, and it also emails you all new shared info scans while listing for both you and the person that scans your digital card.

Post-Conference Follow-Up

  • Organize Your Leads
    • After the conference, promptly organize your leads. Categorize them based on the level of interest and potential for business. This will help you prioritize your follow-up efforts.
  • Timely Follow-Up
    • Reach out to your leads within a week of the conference, but NOT the first day or two after they return…give them at least 2 biz days to get caught up. Send personalized emails referencing your conversation and any specific interests they mentioned. Include any promised materials or additional information and set up a confirmed time to chat deeper about how you can help their business or they can help yours.
  • Evaluate Performance
    • Analyze your performance against your objectives. Review the number of leads generated, quality of conversations, and overall engagement at your booth. Gather feedback from your team to identify what worked well and areas for improvement.
    • How did you do with your focused approach? Was it successful? Can you aim even smaller for greater success at the next conference? Always work to be more efficient and focused with each new show.
  • Nurture Relationships
    • Continue to nurture the relationships you started at the conference. Add your new contacts to your CRM system and include them in your regular marketing communications (not sequence spam). Personalized follow-ups and regular touchpoints will help convert leads into customers.
  • Debrief and Plan for Next Year
    • Hold a debriefing session with your team to discuss the event’s successes and challenges. Document key learnings and start planning for the next year’s conference. Consider what new strategies or improvements you can implement to maximize your impact.


Attending the Apartmentalize NAA conference is a significant investment of time and resources, but with careful planning, execution, and follow-up, it can yield substantial returns in the near and long term. By setting clear objectives, engaging effectively during the event, and following up diligently, you can enhance your presence in the multifamily housing industry and drive your business and relationships forward.