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Thursday31 July 2014

Stop rolling your eyes and learn to love Mipim

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If you harbour any serious aspirations of working in the commercial sector then you cannot avoid Europe’s largest property convention

Mention Mipim to most architects and they will generally roll their eyes. But if you harbour any serious aspirations of working in the commercial sector then you cannot avoid Europe’s largest property convention, which takes place March 6-9 in Cannes.

And if you find four days of schmoozing in the south of France too demeaning, then you probably won’t be able to stomach a long-term relationship with a property developer to bring a commercial building to life.

Make no mistake, Mipim brings the good, the bad and the ugly of property sector together in one handy location. There are still sights that are head-turningly shocking, but for the most part it is an opportunity to have conversations with potential clients in a reasonably relaxed environment.

It is an expensive exercise(especially for small practices) but it provides an intensive snapshot of the marketplace and enables you to meet more people in four days than you could meet in a year.

Professional networking is probably the least popular part of any architect’s job, but it is necessary and if you accept that
everyone does it on one level or another, then it becomes easier.

If there is someone in your practice who is particularly eager and good at it, send them, regardless of hierarchy. It’s a complete waste of money to send the practice’s “wallflower”, who will never get into the swing — even if they are the boss.

When you register for Mipim, you are given access to the database of other attendees. Take the time to trawl through and identify who you would ideally like to meet. Then find a way to make contact. There are plenty of venue choices for varying budgets.

If you can’t reach your targets prior to Mipim, use your wits on the ground for a spontaneous encounter. Don’t worry, you won’t look like a stalker — everyone at Mipim knows the score.

Make technology your friend. Rather than going to the cost of producing expensive brochures (most of them get left in hotel rooms), put your credentials on an iPad and email them after your meeting. Then you know that someone is genuinely interested rather than just being polite.

Book your ticket, and go with an open mind, a well-lined stomach and very comfortable shoes. You might even enjoy it.

Three tips for Cannes

1. Be prepared to elbow your way into bars and restaurants — those near the main venue are always packed at the end of the day.
2. Don’t forget to take business cards.
3. If you haven’t booked your travel yet think about taking the train. Depart St Pancras in the morning, change in Paris at lunch and arrive in Cannes around 5pm.

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