The RPC real estate team descended on Cannes in force during the 2017 MIPIM week. For three of us, it was our first time. We'd been well briefed and went armed with business cards and re-hydration treatments (not quite in equal measure). Here are 10 things that we brought away from our experience, aside from what a great feeling of positivity there was about the UK real estate market, of course…
1. Prepare and plan well in advance: whilst it is important to keep some diary slots free for chance meetings (and to maintain your sanity – Cannes is too beautiful not to allow yourself half an hour for a walk away from the crowds), it is also worth investing time checking the twitter feeds and websites of those companies that you'd like to meet up with and getting in touch with them early – most advertise their attendance and you want to beat the rush on their diaries. There are also a host of pre-MIPIM events held in the preceding weeks which we found invaluable for picking up tips and getting to know some other people who would be in Cannes.
2. Ask new contacts if they are hosting any events which you could attend: If you are hosting an event, expect the invite to be returned. There is no harm in touching base with your contacts in the lead up to check whether they are attending your event and to see if they have their own event which you can go along to.
3. Get yourself on the list: When attending pre-MIPIM events, or even during the first few days being there, it's worth asking contacts what other events they are attending to see if you can wangle an invite along to those too – especially to that elusive boat/pool party (you usually can!).
4. Don't be afraid to do things differently: we had a great time meeting people at lunch, dinner and drinks receptions but we also heard great feedback about smaller, more focused events and more formal meetings away from the most frequently used bars, cafés and restaurants.
5. Add photos to your business cards: many people commented on what a good idea it was, and we agree. It makes it much easier to remember who is who after a full day of hearing new names. Once you have exchanged cards it is helpful to quickly note on it which event you were at when you met and anything specific you spoke about, it makes follow ups that much easier when you get home.
6. Divide and conquer: we found that it was really helpful to turn up to some events with a colleague, both in terms of showing breadth of our team but also because it makes walking into events a bit easier, but at the same time more can often be gained by splitting up and comparing notes at the end. Following up with a 'I must introduce you to my colleague' email is a perfect excuse for setting up a meeting at a later date too.
7. Break your new shoes in and take plenty of blister plasters: we had heard many times over that we should take flat shoes rather than attempting all the walking in heels, but not one person warned us that by the end of the week walking barefoot or in battered old trainers was the only credible option for one of us (we'll leave you guessing as to which one...). Yes, we should have known better.
8. Double-check your accommodation: we heard many stories about double bookings, wrong dates and the like. It is also worth checking that (if you're staying in an apartment) there will be enough keys to save you needing to know who is where at all times.
9. Cannes it be that hot? Whilst we lucked out this year with the sun, remember it is still March and when the sun drops there's a chill in the air. Pack layers, including smart jackets (the industry is still pretty "business" formal), something colourful to stand out from the sea of navy, and a brolly just in case!
10. Follow up: a regroup back in the office as soon as possible during the following week to arrange who is following up with who avoids awkward doubling-up or anyone getting missed off the list.