As BD consultants, we attend a number of conferences, both large and small. Some have one-on-one meetings, some don’t. Some are scientific conferences, while others are focused on partnering.
As we start preparing for BIO in Chicago, we’d like to share our tips, tricks, and “rules” that we invoke for conferences. Here are a few, and we’ll add more to this list as we move towards BIO.
Why are you going? – Can you clearly answer this question? Let’s face it.
Conferences are not getting any cheaper. There are relatively few companies who can afford to send 10-20 people to BIO. So in an era of tighter budgets, justification becomes increasingly important.
Who are you hoping to meet? – Related to the Why question is the Who question. Are you looking to meet investors? If so, what is their profile? Are you looking to meet BD scouts from pharma? Which companies? Which scouts? Is this a focused trip, or a fishing trip?
What are you trying to communicate? – So if you’re hoping to meet 3 or 4 different audiences, why are you only carrying one presentation? With tablet computers, it’s not difficult to prepare and carry multiple presentations, customized according to who you are meeting. Want to impress someone during a partnering meeting? Prepare a few slides showing their pipeline, demonstrating
how your asset fits within their pipeline. Then shuffle these into your standard deck and save it under a different name. Prefer paper? No problem. Just print and bind a second presentation. That’s what we do, and it works well.
When can you meet? – There is no need to limit yourself to partnering software to schedule meetings! JP Morgan week has taught us that social media (especially LinkedIn and Twitter) is a terrific meeting scheduling technique. So if you are attending a particular reception, then publicize that freely. Planning a trifecta of evening receptions? Then make an offer to share a cab and network there. Or, schedule “office hours” in the Lobby of your hotel. Conferences are not the time for hiding.
If your schedule is jam-packed, and if you must decline a meeting, then do so, but leave an email address for post-conference follow-up. Ignoring meeting requests is just bad form. If you must decline, then do so gracefully.
Get there early – If you plan on having your first meetings on Monday morning, then a Sunday early afternoon arrival works best. Why? This gives you a chance to see where everything is, understand how to get to/from the hotel and convention area, etc. It sounds trivial, but rushing into an important Monday morning meeting (or worse, showing up late because of traffic) is not a good way to start the week.
We’ll share some more tips and ideas as we move closer to BIO.