Taking part in an international conference always offers a lot both in terms of experience and networking. Especially when we are talking about MIPIM, which is considered to be one of the world’s leading property markets. Dominic Rebello and Arron Adam traveled to Cannes in order to represent GenieBelt in MIPIM 2017 (14-17 March).
They were kind enough to have a quick talk with us, share their thoughts around the event and some quick tips on how to take the most out of networking during such international conferences.
1. First things first, your general impressions of MIPIM 2017?
D.R.: Without a doubt, a remarkable arrangement of collaborative property experts. It was an impressively professional environment with a hint of a bachelor party.
A.A.: I had never been to MIPIM before, so it was a really interesting and new experience for me. When I got there, I was really impressed by the size of the place. Without a doubt, MIPIM was a great opportunity for some serious networking. All the participants wanted to talk to you and it was clear that all of us were there for the same reason. To create new relationships and build potential future collaborations with great prospects for each side. Finally, the organization of the event was also highly professional which was no surprise given its reputation.
2. Was the event better, worse, or about what you expected? Was there something that you were hoping to be different?
D.R.: It actually was exactly what I thought it was gonna be. A lot of hard work, continuous meetings, but a great chance for networking, too. One of the challenges had to do with the size of the arena. It was very big and that made it harder for people to navigate around the different event areas. Probably a more careful selection of location next time could make a big difference.
The only thing that I was hoping to be different has to do with the prices in the areas around the event. It’s true that Cannes accommodate for high spending, but I think that it went a bit over the top. Every time I had to blow my nose it cost me 10 euros.
A.A.: Almost everything was as expected. It was a physically challenging experience with a lot of work to be done in those four days that we were there. It helped a lot, though, that it was a great place to do business. There were a lot of prestigious companies and again I was very happy to see how professional everybody was.
If there was probably one thing that I would have changed, it would have been the pricing outside of the event. But that doesn’t really have to do anything with the actual event and its organizers.
3. Is there anything that you wish you had done differently before going to the event?
D.R.: There are a couple of things that I would like to do a bit differently. For example, I would like to qualify my meetings a bit better. In that way, I would be able to take the most out of my presence in the event. Quality over quantity in a nutshell. In relation to that, I wish I had booked my accommodation closer. This would allow me to be more efficient in terms of time-management.
Booking my flights earlier is also something that I should have done. Last but not least, I should have brought my sun cream!
A.A.: To be honest, I would do some more due diligence in regards to the arranged meetings. A good idea would also be to avoid booking any meeting on the first day of the event. In that way, you have a bit of extra time free in order to orientate yourself in the event area, walk around a bit and start making some first contacts. Like that, you can increase the efficiency of your work and improve your networking opportunities.
4. Was there enough time to come in contact with all the different people that you were planning to meet with? If not, why?
D.R.: Unfortunately not, but in general it was tough for people to stick to their schedules. Our location was also kind of challenging, as it was difficult for people to find us. On top of that, for some it was hard to recover from a hangover on time.
A.A.: As I mentioned before, it was quite challenging to follow the full meeting program. The biggest difficulty had to do with the fact that we didn’t have a stand, so we had rightly or wrongly to build our own little corner. But this was a great lesson for our next event. Knowing the logistics of the place can make your job much easier.
5. What is the best tactic that a participant should follow in order to take the most out of networking during an event like MIPIM?
D.R.: I think it’s really important that you adopt a very active approach. For example, you should try to hang around the coffee bar in the event and the bar in the afternoon and try to talk to people. In many cases, you may meet more interesting people when you are just standing around or sharing a table with some of them than when you are taking part in booked meetings.
As far as the meetings are concerned, I like first to find out what the people in front of me do, what role they have, and what current challenges they face. Based on this information, I can see if we have a product that fits their needs.
A.A.: First of all, what you need to do is to get yourself invited to as many events as possible. Many of the companies are holding, for example, afternoon or evening events where you can find people being a bit more relaxed and more open to discuss and joke. Sometimes, this can be the first step in creating a solid professional connection later on. You should also walk around the stands and be ready to talk to the people there. In that way, you can put yourself on the radar of their company. People are specifically there to actually talk and do business, so they will normally be more than happy to have a chat with you.
Learning how to check the quality of your meetings is critical, too. In the beginning, you should be ready to do a lot of listening in order to figure out the profile of the person in front of you. In that manner, you can understand whether this meeting would be a waste of your time or if it’s actually worthy to spend the next 30-40 minutes to explain your product and engage in a more detailed conversation.
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6. What are the benefits for a company like GenieBelt from participating in an event like that?
D.R.: There are numerous advantages for a company like GenieBelt from being present in an event like MIPIM. First of all, you get to meet people you will never have a chance to get through on the phone. On top of that, you have the great opportunity to acquire industry knowledge first-hand. In short, it can be a valuable lesson as you cut through all the BS.
A.A.: Events like MIPIM are a perfect opportunity for companies like GenieBelt to get out there and make their presence noticeable in the industry. In our case, we managed to show that we can deal with the very small companies but we can also deal with the really big players in the field. In other words, you can upscale your company game and improve the profile for your business.
Lastly, the fact that we had a more approachable profile proved to be quite important in an environment where everybody appears to be more uptight and officially dressed for example. We stood out a little bit thanks to this and we managed to create a more welcoming atmosphere around us.
7. What are the biggest challenges when participating in such an event?
D.R.: Effective management of your time is probably the biggest issue. Trying to cram around 100 meetings in 3 days, it can be proved to be quite a challenge. Especially in arenas like the one in Cannes where you had to spend a decent amount of time in order to get from the one corner to the other. In that sense, sometimes having 20 good meetings is better since you don’t have enough time for all of them anyway. Quality over quantity, as I said before.
A.A.: Time management is definitely key. In events like MIPIM, where there’s a vast area to cover, your job can become much more difficult when you have a lot of consecutive meetings. There’s no time to go around a bit, join other meetings and improvise on your networking strategy. Not having a company stand can be a big challenge, as well. And it’s a serious pain when you are trying to arrange your meetings, as it can sometimes be difficult for people to find you.
8. How much and in what ways does it help to have your own company stand/booth in a big event like that?
D.R.: First of all, you get automatic footfall and brand awareness. You can also use some extra small tricks, let’s say, in order to attract people’s attention. For instance, a screen showing a demo of your product in the background could be helpful.
A booth allows you also to speak to more than one person at a time, as you can do group sessions. The only problem, in such cases, is that you need to have more people at the event to manage the booth.
A.A.: It surely helps in many ways. More specifically, you can easily arrange a networking event in your booth and come in contact with many different companies. Furthermore, it makes the whole process of booking and attending meetings much simpler. On top of that, you can have a graphical background with the logo of your company or a screen that shows demos of your product. In that sense, it’s a more straightforward and eye-catching way to approach potential clients.
But keep in mind that having a company booth requires a lot of hard work because you are constantly talking to people. That’s why, you need around 6-7 people if you want to have a stand. In that way, you got the option to share your team on different activities.
9. Do you have any tips for companies that participate in events like MIPIM and want to make a difference without going over budget?
D.R.: A good idea would be to avoid organizing their activities within the event area. I would recommend that you rent a space (e.g. a bar or a hotel lobby) and invite people to you. I think a lot of people did really well not coming into the event. Instead they just tried to drag people out of the MIPIM area by spending money for a dinner or a small event for example.
A.A.: I think the most important is to plan time effectively because it’s an expensive event and you need to make sure that you have every minute covered during the day. Towards that direction, it can help a lot to check in advance the business background of the people you meet in order to avoid wasting your time on meetings that have nothing to offer.
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The smart selection of location both for your meetings and your accommodation is also crucial. It can help you avoid any unnecessary costs, especially in cities like Cannes where it can get a bit pricey. And as I said above, keep your schedule empty during the first day of the event in order to get familiar with the place and start putting some solid foundations for efficient networking later on.
10. Any advice for the organizers of MIPIM 2018?
D.R.: Keeping the example of MIPIM 2017 in mind, I think that they could have welcomed the event a bit better. They could arrange a nice introduction. In my opinion, this was one of the very few negative points. There was no kick-off to the day. A welcome drink, a cup of coffee or just something small when you first go there could make a difference. Moreover, it would be nice to have more things arranged off-site (e.g. an event in the beach).
From a general standpoint, though, I believe that the organizers of MIPIM 2017 did a great job and I’m already planning to be there again next year!
A.A.: I have more of a practical advice. It would be very helpful if there was a designated area for people to eat inside MIPIM. The absurd prices outside of the event were one of the very few negative points of the whole experience.
But I still believe that the full organization of the event was really good and I’m already looking forward to the next one. Hope to see you all there!
Being present in a property market like MIPIM can offer great value to your company. It’s a smart way to get your company out there and start creating a good name for it. All you have to do is keep an eye on the upcoming international events and get ready to book a place in order to meet with all the different professionals from the industry.
Dominic Rebello is the Chief Revenue Officer of GenieBelt with great experience within the sales field and a remarkable background in managing, designing and launching million pound residential properties.
Arron Adam is GenieBelt’s Country Manager for the United Kingdom. He has worked in the construction computing field for approximately 12 years.