Guest post contributed by Carlos N. Velez, Ph.D., Managing Partner, Lacerta Bio Inc.
In a few short weeks, over 3,000 of us will descend onto Frankfurt, Germany for the 20th Anniversary edition of the BIO-Europe® conference. For many of us, our objective is to meet prospective partners, clients, or customers. But, how should you prepare for BIO-Europe? How can you squeeze as much value out of the conference as possible? Having attended a number of EBD Group conferences over the years, we have put together this series of tips that we use to help us get the most out of these three very intense days.
Detailed Profiles – It is very important to provide as much detail as possible in both the “Company Profile” and “Licensing Opportunities” sections of your partneringONE®profile. This detail allows prospective partners and customers to search and find you via keywords. Also, instead of using standard company language in these sections, take the time to explain who you are and why you are attending the conference. What are you looking for? What stage of development? Which geographies? If your company is sending more than one person, then specify which person is responsible for one thing versus another thing. Do not depend on a corporate Conference Coordinator to prepare these profiles for you. At minimum, make sure the asset and personal descriptions are in keeping with your objectives for the conference. You may wind up with fewer meetings, but each meeting will be more focused and meaningful simply by taking this step in advance.
Presentations – As your meeting requests are being accepted, you can begin to customize your presentations. It is important, especially when out-licensing, to customize your presentation and place the available asset in the context of the other company’s portfolio or geography. This takes a lot of preparation, but it could be as simple as creating multiple versions of the same presentation, or changing one or two slides per meeting. With tablet computers and cloud storage, it is not a burden to create 10-15 versions of a presentation. What it does require, however, is time to research companies, time to create custom slides, and time to organize yourself via cloud storage. And bring a paper copy of your general presentation just in case!
Responsiveness – Respond to meeting requests as soon as possible. Why? Because we are all limited to a certain number of pending meeting requests. Once someone accepts or declines, that pending meeting request is returned to us, enabling us to send more. We have been in situations where we had to stop sending meeting invitations the week before a conference because invitees were not responding. And, out of courtesy, always decline with a polite message and an email address. And by the way, please do bring at least 75 business cards!
Meetings – If we customize our presentations in advance, then we should treat each meeting as unique. It’s helpful to review the company profile and the specific presentation a few minutes in advance of the meeting (again, tablet computers are perfect for this). Also, remember that conferences like this are exhausting. Eat well, drink plenty of water, wear good shoes, and get plenty of rest. A high level of energy is needed and appreciated, especially by the time those early morning meetings roll around on Wednesday. Besides, you can always sleep on the plane back home! Lastly, always leave the meeting with a specific, clear follow-up action item. Even if the result of the meeting was negative, it still makes sense to agree on an action item after the conference to help cement the relationship.
Party With Me – Many people skip the afternoon and evening receptions, or leave them after a quick snack or drink. Why do this? Unless you have an important conflicting meeting, the evening receptions are a golden opportunity to meet with people you would not otherwise meet during partnering. As a bonus, you may have the opportunity to continue a discussion you already had in a meeting booth, but in a much more relaxed atmosphere. There is no better way to cement a relationship than over a good meal and a few beverages. Take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t worry. There will be plenty of cabs to share to return us to our hotels after the buses leave. So stick around!
Follow Up – You simply must follow up as you promised in the meeting booth. Even if there is no interest in the asset or product or service, a polite “Thank you for meeting with me at BIO-Europe” email is always appreciated. We also recommend connecting with everyone you meet (yes, everyone) via LinkedIn and partnering360®. What is partnering360? It is an online partnering community that complements and enhances your in-person partnering meetings and the dealmaking process overall, and enables you to connect and reconnect with potential partners. A Live Webinar on partnering360 will take place in mid-October that will guide you through the platform and provide you with best practices for conferences and collaboration strategies.
Last Words – Conferences like BIO-Europe can be incredibly rewarding experiences, both professionally and personally. Not only do you have an opportunity to advance your business, but you can also meet industry colleagues and develop career-long friendships around the world. But for a conference to be successful for all of us, we have to be very prepared before, during, and especially after the conference. So respond to requests, prepare your slides, eat and drink with me, and follow up in order to get the most out of BIO-Europe.
See you in Frankfurt!
Join the featured partnering360 webinar taking placeon Wednesday, October 15 at 11am EDT, and Increase your Partnering Effectiveness.