"Tell me again, how does MIPIM work?"
I have regularly been to MIPIM over the last 10 years so regard myself as a seasoned campaigner but I can still clearly remember the sense of apprehension that built during my first visit on the transfer from Nice Airport to Cannes. There is no real substitute for "boots on the ground" in terms of being ready for MIPIM, no matter what anyone tells you over a coffee or a couple of beers back in the UK.
So, having neatly labelled the task I have set myself in this blog as more or less impossible, I'm nevertheless here to provide some key advice for first timers on settling in and getting on at MIPIM.
"I need to fit in as many meetings as possible…"
I think it is fair to say that the expression I have heard most often at and after MIPIM over the years is, "I wish I hadn't filled up my calendar for the week so full in advance". This one takes a bit of confidence as a first timer and at first glance it is challenging to your "value for money imperative". However, whether you are part of a City delegation or a corporate group, numerous opportunities will crop up in the thick of battle, several of which you will want to have the time in your schedule to explore further. Leave a handful of strategic slots free to schedule those ad hoc coffees that could ultimately prove very valuable indeed.
"Now, where is my time machine?"
Following on from that, it may seem obvious but although the formal bits of MIPIM are focussed on the "bunker" and its surrounding "passholder only" area the "fringe" as it were, covers a wide area. The majority of the breakfasts, brunches, lunches, presentations, panels, roundtables, pre-dinner drinks, dinners and parties take place right down the Croisette beachfront, well up into the town and, going the other way, past the Marina and also up into the old Town. The simple message is: build plenty of time on your schedule for getting from A to B and (where appropriate) ordering coffee/ drinks/ lunch when you get there! All organised "fringe" events will, of course, require a delegate pass to gain entry.
Another lesson I learned early on in my MIPIM career was to spend time ahead of the event itself working on my Elevator Pitch. You will meet a lot of new people (planned and unplanned) and, as is implicit from the previous paragraph, time will be at a premium. Having a brief, clear introduction to you, your business and your key MIPIM messages memorised means that you can use most of your meeting to do what you intended to do, rather than spending too much time just getting round to it.
"If only I could remember!"
When you have nicely spaced appointments in place, you have your intro off pat and the meetings are flowing nicely, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that MIPIM is all about the product of those meetings/ events and the actions you have agreed for when you get back to the office. It is amazing how much the human mind can remember but it is more amazing, frankly, how much we forget. I think it is widely accepted that the quality of information you will retain is inversely proportional to the length of time you leave it before making a note of key points and actions. Plan in advance a system of referenced note taking (voice memos, Notes on your iPhone/ IPad, pen and paper – whatever works for you) and then take time as soon as possible after an event to jot down key points and actions. I guarantee that will have a positive impact on your post-event follow-up.
"So, did you get an invite to Tom Bloxham's Villa??"
To have all of those meetings and to produce all of those notes you have to find people to meet with. You'll know clients and contacts who are at MIPIM, you will want to engage with delegates on corporate, City and Regional stands and in the last few weeks before the event starts you will receive a lot of invitations (some more random/ unusual than others!). Around all that there is quite a bit you can do to raise your profile and create opportunities for other contacts. Useful pointers in this regard are:
- Take the time as soon as possible to activate your registration and complete your delegate profile on the MIPIM website. You cannot predict precisely what impact your profile will have but it is safe to say that a full, detailed and engaging profile will create a better impression than the bare minimum or none at all. A lot of people are trawling that database from now until the end of MIPIM week so it is well worth making your profile stand out.
- Visit some of the digital channels that have evolved over the years in the "MIPIM fringe" space to see what is on around the main event and to pick up on any of the open invitation events which abound and which you think may be useful to you. The Tough Guide To MIPIM (by Ing) is one of the longest-lived but there are several others which will pop up in response to simple searches. There is now also a MIPIM First Timers group on Facebook.
- You still have time to let as many of your home contacts as possible know that you will be at MIPIM. You will be surprised at how many people you know are also going, or know someone else who is. You will be more surprised at how ready people are to introduce you to their colleagues, clients or contacts who will be at MIPIM.
"I got those last two flights, so I'd better find an Apartment."
The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that I have said nothing about accommodation and travel. This is for the simple reason that if you do not have your accommodation and flights sorted out by this stage, MIPIM may well already be an uneconomic venture for you!
"And the last few things I must remember to pack are…"
To close, here are my practical tips:
- Sun Cream – for those of you for whom the UK or other countries in similar latitudes are home, it will still look and feel like winter when you leave for MIPIM. In Cannes, it will by and large be relatively warm and quite sunny for most of the time. You don't want to add sunburn to the list of other challenges you face on your first trip to MIPIM.
- Sunglasses – see above.
- Scarf – early mornings can be quite chilly but when the sun does come out toting your big coat round with you will be a nuisance. A scarf keeps you warm, keeps the sun off your neck and packs away easy. That's why you will see how ubiquitous they are at MIPIM – and you will wish you had brought one.
- Sensible shoes – seriously, your Fitbit, Apple Watch or other step tracker of choice will be running overtime. There is nothing worse than blisters.
- Day Bag – plan your bag carefully and have one with you that has everything in it that you will need for the day.
I can't guarantee that rigid adherence to the above will result in a measurable improvement in the outcome of your MIPIM experience. I'm pretty confident, though, that bearing these pointers and tips in mind will give you a good chance of getting the most out of your first MIPIM as you discover your own way of making MIPIM work for you.
Have a good week!