As thousands from across the property, finance, and construction sectors return home from a lively MIPIM 2023, the days and weeks ahead will be a busy one as all those cards and contacts shared on apps will need to be sifted and sorted.
“Fantastic event!”, “Great connections!”, “Brilliant to meet new contacts and catch up with clients!” are the most frequent captions under photos of smiling people holding glasses of wine in the sun on LinkedIn and elsewhere, read by the unlucky ones who missed this year’s event in the South of France.
MIPIM (in French, Le Marché International des Professionnels de L’immobilier) is unique because, for three days, the great and the good from the smallest micro firm to the largest PLC are brought together in Cannes by the weather, the parties, and the fact that you meet such a variety of people.
For one week of the year, the bean counters believe those in marketing, sales, and business development when they tell them that the investment in travel, accommodation, meals, and drinks is worth it for the connections.
But now you have returned, you have a few weeks to demonstrate that the investment in time and money was worth it. LinkedIn will be busy with not only your invitations to connect but hundreds of emails sent attached with brochures. However, being there doesn’t always mean you will win the race for new clients. Sometimes, it is worth taking a moment to think about your audience and offer them something that for many will be the first time they have met you.
The experienced hands know timing can be everything in getting ROI from networking: Return On Introductions.
A conversation is just the beginning
When you meet someone for the first time, neither of you know what benefit will come from this conversation. You find out a little about each other – mainly focused on what you do in business and who for – and what you are like as people. You find out mutual associates and discover areas of expertise and mutual interest.
Sometimes the conversation reveals a benefit instantly – where the next best party is, who is hosting, and who is likely to be there. Sometimes you have met someone with the golden key to a party on the beach or a yacht.
Mostly, it is what it is. A friendly, relaxed (very relaxed if the hour is getting late and this is your tenth function of the day…) and a chance to meet someone new in the sun, a glass of something chilled in hand, and a laugh or two.
Getting to know each other better
When you are back in the UK, take a second to think about what you can now offer your new connection. When you spoke, you had no idea what potential value will reveal itself, but you made a new business friend. Find out more about them through their profiles. Find out who you know in common. When you contact them, reference your first meeting and make a suggestion about your next e.g., a relevant follow-up event in London, or some other information that may be of value to them.
Because when you meet someone for the first time, you really never know what kind of value a relationship with this person – and through them, your company’s relationship with theirs – will reveal to each of you.
Even if you get to the stage of pitching for work, or pricing up a project, there are no guarantees your firm will win that piece of business. However, this could be the start of several opportunities and for now, you have made that first introduction from which others could follow.
It is enough that MIPIM brought two companies together through this introduction and potentially, possibly, lead to tangible and intangible benefits for both.
It’s good to talk…more than once a year
It is also timely to think how different many companies’ attitude to networking is for their representatives during the 51 weeks they will spend in the UK before travelling back to Cannes in 2024.
The next time you are challenged about the value in paying for networking, explain that you now have a connection who will introduce you to those in their own company and others; that opportunities come attached to people and, if you offer the right kind of services at the right price, you now have a chance of expanding your list of clients and growing the size and profitability of the business.
Because the real reason everyone travels to MIPIM is the chance to have conversations with people representing different businesses from across the sectors – and lots of them. You share information, introductions, knowledge, and hopefully lots of smiles and laughter.
The value of the connections you have made shouldn’t be measured this week, this month, or even this year. They will reveal themselves over time.
And you can tell the Financial Director this, as you hand over your expense claim, that whatever happens going forward, you know your business is richer for the conversations you have had. You just can’t tell them in what way and by how much. For now, smile and remind them that we are all human and it’s just good to talk.
Image approved for use and with thanks, courtesy of Félicie Krikler, Director of Asseal Architecture