Lending Leaders
How to Survive Conference Season with Sabrina Park

LLL was delighted to sit down with Sabrina Park, Head of Digital Creative Strategy at BeSmartee, one of our amazing partners. Sabrina is an inspiration to us here at LodeStar, and we were grateful for the opportunity to sit down and talk with her about BeSmartee, spring conference season, and the joys of learning new things and meeting new people.

Tell us about your background. How did you wind up at BeSmartee?

Sabrina went to school for journalism, expecting to write for a newspaper. But after school, she, like Alayna, moved to the hospitality industry and worked for a restaurant called Nobu, marketing events. Increasingly, she wanted to do copywriting, more of the kind of thing she went to school for. So, she went back to school for digital marketing and wound up at BeSmartee afterward, where she is delighted to be. Tim Nguyen, Co-Founder and CEO, and Veronica, Co-Founder, have made an incredible culture there. It’s a fast-growing company with a lot of amazing content.

How has it been getting back to conference season?

Both Alayna and Sabrina missed meeting new friends and old ones. It’s always exciting to talk face-to-face about new things our companies are up to. And of course, you simply can’t beat meeting customers in person and getting (sometimes candid) feedback about products and services we’ve released into the world. And of course, as vendors, we’re always happy to get the conference list.

Also, it’s nice mingling with execs and decisionmakers, and making connections. But more than just making business connections, Sabrina and Alayna love putting faces to names, getting to know people, and learning about their kids and pets. This kind of connection humanizes clients, and that informs how we make tech stack decisions—or at least it should.

BeSmartee usually hosts some kind of smaller event at each conference they attend—an intimate dinner, a cocktail event—so they can give people the opportunity to catch up or get to know each other.

What is the value of conferences for continued learning?

Conferences are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry. Technology legislation changes, so it’s good to keep up. Also, specific sessions are always very valuable, sometimes even surprisingly so.

Learning about new technologies and strategies is an excellent way to grow in supporting clients. Heaven forbid we hear firsthand what clients actually want and need, right?

What was your favorite session / your biggest takeaway so far this season?

Sabrina attended a session at Independent Mortgage Bankers where she interviewed experts and asked “What can independent mortgage bankers do to make smarter tech decisions in 2022?” She received lots of great answers and insights!

What conference survival tips do you have to share?

Bandaids are a must, as is water. Also, please please check the weather. Sabrina is from southern California and has found herself very cold in Connecticut in the dead of winter. Self-care is a must. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. If a session isn’t proving helpful, it’s no insult to the presenter to walk out and go get a coffee or go back to your booth and talk to people.

Beyond basic logistical and comfort considerations, be sure to attend all the networking events you can. Don’t be shy. Just remember everyone is there to network, to make connections, to learn something. Walk up to a crowd of people and say hi. Sit at someone else’s table and introduce yourself. Be brave.

Find creative ways to create a unique experience. Once there was a cartoon artist in attendance who drew what lenders said they needed from vendors. It was really funny, and wound up being super valuable.

(Re: unique conference experiences, Alayna is still kicking herself for missing a donut wall at Encompass Experience this year…)

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Sabrina is all about opportunities to learn more and to be a part of something that’s bigger than just herself. She loves helping people and impacting the consumer in a positive way.