Early on in my career I had it drilled into me that networking was the best way to get business done. Introductions were made over a glass of wine, brainstorming over breakfast and deals agreed over dinner. Large gatherings such as conferences and awards ceremonies were speed-dating events to meet your industry peers, share industry insight, debate and discuss with MIPIM the jewel in the crown of property networking.

MIPIM has dominated the property calendar for four decades, and is the birthplace of many an idea, collaboration and deal. It’s where many projects are announced for the first time, and plans are revealed to the world. It’s exciting to meet so many people you wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to – though why wouldn’t you? I spend hours ahead of time scanning lists of attendees to events so that I can find people with whom I’d like to meet, knowing they’ll be there.

I had a few meetings lined up in Cannes, but the moment MIPIM was postponed, we rearranged these for a venue in the UK instead. The collective property industry did the same and suddenly it dawned on us: we didn’t need MIPIM to facilitate these, we could do them ourselves. It got me thinking – do we really need to spend thousands of pounds to send people to France to meet people we could easily do so in this country?

Covid-19 has undoubtedly cast a very bright spotlight on our digital future. Being a PropTech company, you’d expect me to say this, but especially in the coronavirus pandemic, tech has become a vital source of communication with colleagues and clients. Groups, Slack, Zoom, even Houseparty – my team has spent hours working remotely via these apps, talking to each other, our clients, and new business prospects. People are conducting formal tenders via video conferencing, so I know it can be done and business as usual can be achieved.

Within Locale, or any new business, change management is frequently the trickiest part of systems integration within a company – the powers that be can be on board but getting this to trickle along to the coalface is where we can often spend the majority of our time encouraging adoption. MIPIM is the reverse of this: not getting the bottom to change its mindset, but the top. MIPIM started life as a last chance saloon for the chaps in charge to celebrate the end of the financial year. It’s still largely dominated by men in suits, and very heavily geared towards socialising over a rosé and some seafood, so how much of this original purpose has really changed?

The cancellation of MIPIM in 2020, through no fault of its own, has forced many of us to forge our own way and network outside of the Palais, and has saved me a lot of time and effort doing so. I think I’ll use the money saved to arrange that nice dinner one-on-one, care to join me?

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