Written By Rebecca Everts, general manager, digital marketing at Comexposium
Your storied industry career is thriving. You’ve any number of accomplishments to count and share. A long list of lessons learned and parlayed to others in your midst—your teams, clients, partners and others. Your opportunities continue to multiply. You can see your past, present and future clearly, with a sense of stability and path. Sound like you?
Well, let’s just take a minute and think about what factors into your living success story. Your upbringing? Of course. Education prior to entering the working world? Yes. Talent and skill? Sure. Your concrete accomplishments and feathers in the cap? Check. Reputation and integrity? If you are doing things right—absolutely. Assuming all of these things have played together to write your professional industry story, there is another underlying value that must be present and strong: your network. It’s your bedrock.
Networking in its truest sense is more than a roster of contacts. It’s an interconnected system that you have nurtured, kept warm, sparked with favors of your own, currencies exchanged over time, possibly even decades. And, it continues to yield. There is always a mixed art to this. Some of effective networking is innate; some is learned, from those whose ability in this area inspires you. Your chiefs, mentors, friends, peers.
But, for most of us, day in and day out—networking happens virtually via LinkedIn, email, social and other micro-communications or in the context of local, regional or national events, conferences and a flurry of circles tied to your work. And then comes Cannes.
So, what about the large global event—something of such scale and diversity—makes the imagination run wild with possibilities? Cannes has become a major global hub for our industry at the cross-roads of advertising, creative, media, technology and innovation, drawing worldwide attendees to the South of France. It’s teeming with contacts, relations, potential new business and partnerships—and there are a lot of yachts. There should be no greater networking opportunity to help spring your own network to the next level, come July, when Cannes wraps.
Before we head out to MMS Yacht @ Cannes, we thought we’d take a pause, before we all jet, to pinpoint the aspects of the art of networking in this global context. So, we asked several frequent Cannes goers—executives in media, entertainment and global business consulting for a little bit of advice. See how these resonate with you as you plan your week:
Creating Intimacy Amid The Noise
When the scene is so massive, you might have one of two reactions: 1) I am going to slay this thing. I will be everywhere, and bring home unimaginable bounty. 2) This is too huge. I will stick with “my people” in order to maintain focus. I’m sure it will work out. It usually does.
There is middle ground here. Seasoned global event (a la Cannes) goers will tell you it’s about creating or joining smaller gatherings, finding micro-touch points in the middle of it all. Your own way, if you will. It’s about having a plan and a specific, diverse dance card going in. “Cannes is about creativity and connections. For the latter, focus on small meetings versus mass forums, whether at a table on the Carlton Terrace, rosé on a Yacht or canapés, always remembering amid a distributed event of this scale, one-to-one conversations remain key,” wisely shares Sean Finnegan, partner, Chameleon Collective.
Balance Your Inner Circle With New Blood
The above advice on venturing out is not to dismiss the value of your known and friendly forces. But, the global event is to some extent about expanding your circles, using that known force for greater good. It’s important to rely on the people you know as foundational but devote real networking time to growing the branches of your network. Events like this are the perfect opportunity to transport your network to the next level.
“I’m never opposed to engaging someone new, but I’ve found that getting face time at a large event with an exec I want to meet becomes infinitely easier when there’s a friend that can make the intro for me. There’s just a trust there you can’t beat. A lot of times, I will not have even been looking for a new connection but it comes up in the natural flow of conversation when you discuss how you want to be in business with someone. Maybe I can’t help you with this, but I know someone who can. As a bit of an introvert, those select people in my inner circle who are well-plugged into the scene are invaluable. I think about this whenever in large networking situations like this—the connections between the two,” says Fred Lee from CJ E&M.
“Having a number of people you know will be there is a great ‘base camp’ to rely on. These are people you can meet up with at parties or screenings and socialize with, but they also have all of the people they know and are using as their own ‘base camp.’ It’s always far more beneficial to you to have a friend or colleague facilitate the introduction, even in a casual environment such as an after-party,” suggests Seana Diemer Iwanyk from Grey Matter Productions.
Let Your Reputation Precede You
With all the time you’ve spent tending to your network, it’s important to not lose sight of yourself in the noise. Be who you are, keep your integrity and don’t get caught up in the noise—always focusing on meaningful exchanges. Don’t let the dissonance of “it all happening” confuse your focus. Don’t chase fun. Be present in every conversation.
“In an era where purpose and mindfulness are the new normal, make sure to own and embrace the highest potential and authenticity of who you are. To get the most out of your experience, be present, engaged and look to have meaningful conversations. Yes, even in Cannes, this is possible!” Jessica Joines, founder & CEO, Consciousness Economy.
And finally, as you pack for your journey, it’s worth suggesting: pack light but well. Looking ahead to all the networking you will surely do and enjoy, keep focused in what you you plan to share, discuss, put out there, not packing and taking your whole spiel, repertoire or agenda.
“Cannes is an incredible place to connect because finally everyone is in the same four block radius and not worried about traffic on the 405. But, you must be much more targeted, concise and deliberate about the time you get with people. There is not a lot of room for idle chit-chat and general conversation. You should have a strategic plan of attack of what you want to say when you get in front of the people that can help you. Somewhere between an elevator pitch and a traditional pitch meeting. A ‘Cannes Pitch’ so to speak. Something that gets to point and shows you have a complete understanding of your idea without getting into the weeds. Unless of course they ask for the weeds and then you better be prepared for that as well. Basically, as always, be prepared for anything, but plan to be brief, compelling and unforgettable,” says Zack Parker founder of A 10 East Productions, producer of 2018 SXSW Best Narrative Feature Thunder Road.
Senior brand and agency marketers that will be attending Cannes Lions this year, request your exclusive VIP comp pass to the MMS Yacht @ Cannes Lions by clicking here. Once the application is submitted, you’ll receive confirmation of your status within 48 hours and choose from a selection of days between 6/18 and 6/22 where you’ll network in luxury with other marketing leaders.
See you by the seaside at MMS Yacht @ Cannes. We look forward to connecting there and sharing a little social art of the network, keeping some of the wise words from the frequent global goers above in mind.