I reckon that’s probably a question a number of people from across the industry are already asking themselves as we gear up for the annual challenge of getting to and mastering the art of MIPIM. For a BD Director, it is slightly easier I suppose because we do these kind of thing on a slightly more regular basis than others in perhaps less client facing roles, but it is no less daunting. When you review the cost implications for each and everyone of us travelling to the South of France, it is clear that we need this to be a highly productive three days.
So what would my top tips be for anyone taking on the festival for the first time? I’m not sure I have anything too ground-breaking to offer but there are some salient things I always have to remind myself:
1. Diary Planning – The tendency for us all in the first visit is to pack our diary, one hour to the next with back-to-back meetings, events and sessions. The joy of MIPIM is as much about the getting from one place to another – you never know who you will bump into on the street – plus distances between the events can be significant. Take your time and don’t overpack your day if you can help it. Maybe choose a café and have a couple of meetings there without moving. But personally I don’t advise the sit in one place all day approach – it will send you nuts.
2. Ask for a meeting – The delegate list is long, but there are some great opportunities in there if you take some time over it. January is the time to be reviewing and approaching people for meetings. If you don’t ask, you won’t get and if people can’t fit you in they may well still offer something back in blighty, so its worth asking. But when asking offer something interesting. I don’t want to meet you if you are simply looking to sell me something, but I am far more interested if you are going to share some interesting research, or you know someone you can introduce me to, etc. Think about the approach and tailor it to the individual, just as you would here if you were approaching someone. Everyone’s time is precious so make your offer attractive! Equally don’t go mad. As in point no.1, you need a good blend of meetings/events and flexibility to make the most of the exhibition.
3. What do you pack? - Now I don’t want this to be cliched, but I am doing this in chronological order. What you wear is a challenge because you never know what the weather is going to do exactly, but for the last five years it has been significantly warmer than the UK in March! Wet on occasion, but warmer. Fill your bag with things that go with everything else in the bag! Oh and there is no changing for dinner! Very few dinners are formal nowadays so it’s a day to night wardrobe!
4. Content is Queen – No doubt your marketing team will be shouting this at you anyway but it is so true. Content before during and after is massively helpful in flagging the fact that you are going, sharing the insights you are gaining and reflecting on the themes and issues emerging each year. In 2017, Partnership was everywhere, running through all the sessions I sat on as, in light of Brexit, the public and private sectors sought to understand what was and wasn’t working in Partnerships. It was really helpful to hear both sides, but also to hear the truth about some of these scenarios and not simply the sales pitches. My ‘JenatMIPIM’ Instagram feed is my one small nod to social media while out there, and it is amusing trying to grab a picture which captures the atmosphere or share some of the intelligence achieved, its also a great way to start a conversation!
5. Speak to the person next to you – This is another one of the unexpected joys of MIPIM, networking is all about having the confidence to talk to people you don’t know, bearing in mind that everyone is in the same boat, seeking to make new connections and gain something, if not lots from the trip. People are in Cannes to talk, so talk. Some of the best chats I’ve had have been incidental, with people standing next to me at the bar or even stealing our drinks – Andrew Rogers!!!
6. Don’t overdo it on coffee – With so many meetings and events, in nice French cafes, one lesson I learnt in year one, was don’t overdo it on the coffee. The shakes are not a good look at MIPIM at 11am, no matter how you have achieved them!
7. Make the most of the bunker – For many years the bunker has been seen as something of an elephant at the MIPIM festival. Too big and too difficult to get your head around, plus its out of the sunshine!!! There is however a huge amount of content now being delivered on stands and in specific venue spaces within the bunker which are offering some hugely insightful content. If you have a delegate pass, look past the surrounding marquees and dip in to the darkness. Go and visit some of the UK and European Cities hosting sessions and events and hear what they have to say. Also take a look at the Conference programme, as hidden in amongst some of the more bamboozling financial sessions are some gems on regeneration, inter-city collaboration, Smart Cities, etc.
8. Download each evening – To remember who you have met and discussions had try and collate business card or download discussions had each evening when you get home. Geeky I know, but without that I would forget everything which can’t be good!
So they’re my top tips! Give me a shout if you are heading to Cannes and up for a chat or indeed a bike ride. A few of us will be heading out a couple of mornings on the bicycles to keep our eye in for the Raid Pyrenean we are taking on in June… the more the merrier on those!
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