Updated January 2017
The AUTM® national meeting has significant industry representation, including key new participants from outside the life sciences. This provides an ideal opportunity for university technology transfer offices (TTOs) and high-tech companies to lay the groundwork for establishing mutually beneficial collaborations and licenses. I recommend these six actions to make the most of your AUTM meeting networking opportunities.
1. Find Your Fit with Other Attendees
Think strategically about your near-term goals and needs so you can plan and prepare accordingly. Do a quick check of who is attending and then cross-check that with your portfolio. Which available technologies would have strong appeal to particular attendees? Which attendees have the capabilities to address gaps in your current resources? Recognizing your goals ahead of time helps you to best focus your on-site efforts and get the most out of the meeting.
2. Narrow Your Focus
You probably won’t be able to meet with everyone who aligns with your tech/need portfolio. So prioritize your list to focus on the ones who are the best match. Obtain an update or refresh your memory about the technologies or needs on which you’ll be focusing so you can best articulate them to others.
3. Schedule Time with Your Top Targets
AUTM Connect™ is a huge help with this:
- Set up your profile. Be sure to list your key technologies, products, etc.
- Keep your schedule up to date. Block off time for any sessions you don’t want to miss so your targets (and those targeting you) can see when you’re available. (Note that AUTM Connect will publicly display that you are an attendee for any sessions you add to your schedule in the system.)
- Send invitations to your targets. Remember to explain how they will benefit from meeting with you.
4. Bring Handouts to Industry/Academia Partnering Forum
Organized a bit like speed dating, the Partnering Forum involves companies presenting 5-minute outlines of their current needs and how to work with them, followed by a reception and one-on-one networking. When I’ve seen this type of format used, I noticed that the audience was scribbling notes furiously and likely missed some of the finer details.
Lesson learned: If you’re presenting, share handouts or electronic documents that highlight key points. And regardless, have a handout (besides just your business card) to give to the folks you meet with.
Check the AUTM meeting online schedule to see the timing for the Partnering Forum and the lists of company presenters.
5. Update Your Organization’s Online Presence
People I have talked to in industry love that the AUTM Global Technology Portal gives them one place to find university technologies. So be sure your GTP entry is up to date, especially the listings of your capabilities, needs, and most importantly your technology offerings. As with all effective tech transfer marketing collateral, technology listings should succinctly and compellingly focus on what the technology is, its benefits to users, and its applications — this is far more important than lengthy descriptions of technical details.
People you connect with at the meeting will likely follow up by visiting your website, so make sure that’s up to date too. We have lots of insights on building an effective online presence that are available here. Fuentek also can help you with our Branding & Marketing services. For more information, contact us here or schedule a time to meet with me, Laura Schoppe, or Danielle McCulloch at the national meeting using AUTM Connect.
6. Prepare Your Elevator Pitches
Plan — and practice — how you will introduce yourself and your organization. Things to think about:
- What takeaway would you like them to remember after the conversation? Say this at least once during the conversation.
- What are your organization’s strengths? Maybe the bulk of your research is focused in agricultural areas. Or maybe the strong coordination between your engineers and medical researchers makes you a powerhouse in medical devices.
- What will be of most interest to the person you’re speaking with? Maybe it’s a particular technology portfolio or researchers who are leaders in a field that’s key to their industry. You’ll probably need more than one pitch to target different audiences.
- Keep it concise and interesting. Your new acquaintances can signal when they’d like to learn more about items that interest them.
In addition to these networking suggestions, check out this general advice for getting the most out of the AUTM annual meeting. Hope to see you there!