Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do marketers set aside enough time for networking with their peers?

As clients and agencies reflect on events at the International Advertising Festival last week, many of those who attended may be wondering why they had to go to Cannes to see their colleagues.


The Financial Times says there were more clients at Cannes this year. WPP and Publicis were doing double acts on stage with senior clients, so there is a clear mandate for advertisers to embrace networking.

However, colleagues often confuse this with a 'jolly' - and who can blame them, if you spent your time quaffing Chablis on the Croisette.

The Marketing Society, ISBA, DMA and IPA are great networking forums where you can meet interesting people with a range of experiences; many introductions end up delivering initiatives with strong results. Spend all day in the office and you will learn what you sold yesterday - spend time outside and you will learn what you can sell tomorrow.

Motor racing, shooting, golf, helicopter trips, fine dining, drinks and other fun events are designed to relax like-minded people so they are prepared to share their thoughts and ideas. We need to balance the water and the wine, but maybe revenues will come easier as a result.


Networking means different things to different people, some good and some bad. Opportunity exists, but not all do it. They miss the point. Networking is what you make of it.

Good networking starts with a purpose and this varies depending on the individual. A young person looking for that first job needs to meet people, learn where the opportunities are, and find mentors. A more experienced marketer may seek insight on potential agency performance, potential job candidates or opportunities to collaborate, partner and share.

Just connecting can present a wonderful opportunity for marketers, whether they are attending a local meeting or a global annual event.

For me, it's building ongoing relationships with clients, colleagues and collaborators. These relationships help shape and share everything from what is going on in the world to how companies are coping with the volatility in today's economy to understanding what is new, different and effective.


Someone cleverer than me once wrote, 'What is this life if full of care? We have no time to stand and stare.' I'm not sure he had marketers in mind, but maybe he should have.

In our wired society, timings tighten, deadlines drive, and human interaction is diminished. After just 24 hours in Cannes I had already bumped into the chairman of my holding company, the creative director of Brazil's coolest agency, a former UK Marketer of the Year, a creative team I want to hire and a client who has been avoiding me for at least 18 months.

All the conversations were genial, two involved glasses of rose, none was about work per se, and I'm reminded again that its the people in our industry that make it great and, more importantly, it's these great people that solve problems and make brands successful.

Cannes is networking at its finest. In terms of productivity and value, it is unsurpassed. It is good business and we should do more of it. We should do more to talk and share.


Meeting people (not too keen on the 'n' word, it's up there with 'brainstorm' for me) is what keeps us alive.

People are fascinating, funny and invariably more interesting than me. Sometimes they're fat, sometimes thin, sometimes they might annoy, but occasionally, they'll inspire.

I've just been lucky enough to spend a few days in Cannes, where I met a smattering of each of the above.

The trip was tiring, and not very rewarding physically, I left inspired: by people who love their jobs and want to do great work; by people who have travelled from the southern hemisphere to meet old colleagues and hear brilliant people talk.

I left jealous of some people's talent and good looks, but reassured that a lot of people are facing the same issues and struggles that we are.

Meeting people is a great thing and absolutely everybody in this business should do more of it.


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