There are so many different business development activities to choose from. Here are some ideas to inspire you!
You’ve worked hard to learn your craft, whether it be drafting patent applications to preparing TM applications or writing briefs. And now you need to start doing business development to bring in work. It’s not enough to simply become an expert – others must know you and appreciate your abilities before they will send you work.
There are several different avenues to get in front of potential clients. Some avenues may be more suitable for your personality than others, and you’ll be more successful (and enjoy the process more) if you focus on the method(s) that work best for you. You'll also want to consider your strategic plan and ultimate goal and brainstorm different ways of achieving those goals.
So what are your go-to avenues for business development? For example, you could start writing articles, secure speaking engagements or attend networking events.
Writing is an excellent marketing tool to establish yourself as a thought leader. Writing can include long form articles, social media posts, blog pieces, and even a series of tweets. You will also want to consider where you will publish your written work. With social media it’s particularly easy to disseminate your written work to a wide audience without requiring access to a formal publishing platform. But writing for a targeted industry publication can get you in front of your niche market.
Writing can be especially useful for junior members who may not have the budget for in person travel or reputation for speaking gigs. Plus it can be a less time consuming task than preparing to speak or travelling to an event.
As a person in IP, you will already be comfortable communicating on paper, and as such you may prefer writing over speaking engagements or networking. But there is a skill set you will need to write effectively.
There are many resources available to help you write well. Some general tips: Before you start writing, take time to identify your goal and audience. Consider what your desired message is, and who will benefit from the information. Headings are useful in breaking up a larger article into more digestible chunks. Conclude the article with the message you want to convey or an action item for the reader.
The topic should be anything that leads directly to the services you offer to potential clients. Think about the problems and questions your current clients have – chances are there are others have similar issues. Or is there a particularly interesting case that has practical implications in your field? Let people know you understand how best to address the situation and provide assistance.
Probably the best method to promote your expertise is via speaking. You have a captive audience specifically in attendance to learn about the topic you are presenting. Plus you may be very comfortable expressing yourself verbally, especially if you are experienced in appearing before an appeal board or court.
Securing speaking slots at an event or as a guest on a podcast/webinar is generally more difficult than creating written work since you need to have the organizers/host agree to having you speak, even for virtual events. Many times, you will either need to submit a speaker proposal or sponsor the event.
Alternatively, you can create your own platform from which to speak. With all the available tools out there, you are no longer limited to securing speaking slots with formal event organizers. The options are numerous. For example, you can host your own webinar, use LinkedIn live, go on Clubhouse or even start a podcast!
Like writing, the topic of your talk should directly reflect the services you provide and relate to your audience on a practical level. When an audience member has a related problem, they may come to you for assistance.
Again, there are a number of resources available to help you approach organizers or prepare a speaker proposal, and prepare for the speaking engagement. There are even groups and coaches that can help you practice public speaking. YouTube has many channels devoted to teach how to use various platforms, like hosting Zoom webinars.
A few tips to get you started: Start your talk with an attention-grabbing detail, question or story. Set the agenda or plan for your talk so the audience knows what to expect. If appropriate, connect with your audience by making eye contact, interact with them by using compelling visuals, like a slide deck or gestures.
No one seems to like this word. To make it more palatable, some refer to this activity as relationship building or professional socializing. Either way, it is a very important and useful activity for any IP Professional.
Networking is a great way for those who are comfortable with striking up conversations with strangers. The key here is to attend events that will be frequented by your target market. So if your strategic plan includes targeting the startup community, get involved with your local VC organization or incubator. If you are aiming to meet more foreign associates, consider various IP organizations. The limiting factors may include budget and scheduling so consider the time and financial commitments before signing up.
Networking 101 information is widely available. First, set realistic expectations. The goal is to meet and establish the foundation of a relationship with a reasonable number of people – expecting to walk away with a handful of new clients is likely to leave you frustrated. At the event, you want to find people to engage with. Listen more than you speak. And try to establish some common ground. Don’t monopolize one person’s time – they’ve got others to meet as do you! But do get contact information and follow up later.
One reason, "relationship building" is more palatable than networking is because you don't want to be simply handing out and collecting business cards. You want to create authentic connections with other people.
Now that you know you can provide top tier service to your clients, engaging in business development activities will help establish your credibility and help you bring in clients to serve. Stop being a best kept secret and become an established expert. Above all, business development is an opportunity to share your knowledge and meet new people so have fun with it!
There are so many different business development and profile raising activities possible. So what's the perfect one? Whichever and whatever you find to be enjoyable is a perfect business development activity. When you are having fun with what you are doing and how you are spending your time, you will reflect that to others. Positivity is a magnet. Remember, there are others who can provide the same service as you. But you are the only one who can build unique rapport. And people chose to work with people they trust, are comfortable around and enjoy being around.
So which activities inspire you?
We know that trying to find time to do business development can be tough. We are here to help you create a personalized business development plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Whether you are a trainee, an associate or a partner, we have a program for everyone.
Interested in learning more?
Email us at email@example.com
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Thank you for taking the time to read this month's "Beyond the Application".