Do’s and Don’ts from my First Time in Cannes

So how was MIPIM, you ask?

“Sorry, kid. Looks like you’re going to have to handle this on your own” was the verdict of our management meeting regarding the highly anticipated property investment conference a mere few weeks prior.

Never been to MIPIM? Well, I hadn’t either. Nor had anyone from Nulty. And, naturally, as my (new-ish) role is dedicated to looking after the business development for the practice, it seemed only fitting it was the year to make our debut at “Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier”.

Despite my lack of French, I’d heard quite a lot of buzz about this notorious event in the South of France—whispers of events on yachts and tales of winning big projects alike. Why? Because it’s the world’s leading property exhibition and it attracts the most influential property investors, architects and relevant consultants globally.

It appears my colleagues had more confidence in my networking abilities than I had in myself… but, hey, pressure makes diamonds, right?

Fast forward through a few “brain-picking” coffees later with MIPIM veterans and friends, I was able to string together enough pearls of wisdom to feel (semi) prepared to give Cannes a proper swing.

Alas, into the shark tank I went as the plane landed in Nice—like feed dropping into a school of fish. Pulling up to my first event, I’ll never forget driving past the infamous “Caffé Roma”. I’m still unsure why this place is so popular. However, its unwarranted popularity isn’t the only shocking thing about it—never have I seen a higher concentration of men in blue suits (and a shorter queue for the women’s toilets) in my life.

Intimidating as it was, I survived. Not only that, but I made some great contacts that (fingers crossed) will yield some fantastic projects.

Overall, these were the main takeaways:

Do: Create Touchpoints

Asking everyone and their dog if they were going to MIPIM a few weeks prior ended up being a huge advantage (admittedly, even if it was an unintentional result). Not only did it help to fill my diary with events, but it also helped me to make the most of the events I did attend.

Knowing a few people in each place creates an excellent opportunity for new introductions. Additionally, it’s always good to show your face to existing contacts. After all, they say it takes six times of seeing someone before you do business with them. (Not to mention it helped to ease some of the nerves as I was still getting in the swing of things.)

Add your touchpoints on WhatsApp. Due to the fast pace of the events, not only is this a more efficient way of communicating, it’s also much friendlier.

Inevitably, some of the people you intend to meet will be like ships in the night. With 24,000 registered attendees you’re not going to be able to see everyone. But that’s okay, too. There’s nothing wrong with missing someone and agreeing to catch up in London or elsewhere at a later date. In fact, you may actually get more out of it.

Don’t: Overbook Yourself

This conference is chaos, but mostly in a really beautiful way (once you overcome the initial shock, that is). You get the opportunity to meet new faces, see old, and observe how the industry webs together on a global scale.

This being said, perhaps the most important contacts and conversations are the ones that are unplanned. If you’re constantly racing from meeting to meeting, you miss the opportunity to enjoy a glass of rosé with an industry peer you’ve bumped into. Next thing you know, they’ve introduced you to someone they’ve bumped into, and that pattern continues.

I would, however, plan your meals. Planned meals are the meetings people are going to be the most reliable for. But, be warned, a lunch or dinner in Cannes is not a quick process. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to leave a meal early because your diary is too tight.

Do: Take Notes

It’s easy to fool yourself in thinking you’ll remember all of the intimate conversations with the copious amounts of people you meet in these manic few days.

Make sure you carry a pen with you, and at the end of every event mark the cards so you know when and where you met these people. After all, follow-up is crucial. And, although you might think you’re very interesting and memorable, it’s equally difficult for someone to recall you when you follow-up with them. So, a little context goes a long way for both parties.

Don’t: Forget Sunglasses and Sunscreen

Granted, this one probably should have been fairly obvious…

A few jam-packed days later, my experience was a cocktail combination of beginner’s luck paired with a few rookie mistakes. Regardless, attending MIPIM (and similar types of conferences) is extremely important to stay relevant in the industry. And, as with most things, practice makes perfect.