As this Kat reflects a bit at 37,000 feet on her trip home from her very first INTA (while patiently waiting for the drink cart to finally make it to her seat row), she thinks this would be a good time to jot down a few of the things that crossed her mind as she networked her way through ten thousand trademark lawyers over the past 5 days in Washington, D.C. She has crafted this list of networking tips unique to INTA for any readers who have not yet attended INTA but are considering joining us in Dallas* next year or in Hong Kong in 2014, but conference veterans (and in-house counsel) are of course free to read and comment.
1. Make the Meet the Bloggers Party your number one scheduling priority.
2. Make use of Google Maps when planning your schedule, or hire a tour manager if you can afford one. It will feel like you need one.
3. Bring a paper copy of your calendar. At some point, your iPhone battery will die.
4. Consider bringing (inexpensive) gifts for your meeting contacts. It isn’t necessary, but many of them will have a gift for you.
5. Keep the “firm spiel” to no more than 1 minute of a 30 minute meeting, no more than 30 seconds of the 5 minute Speed Networking sessions. Of course your firm practices trademark prosecution and litigation. That’s why you’re at INTA. Converse - let your new contact know how engaging, interesting, competent and intelligent you are. That’s what matters.
6. Take some time to learn (or at least be aware) of a few of the cultural variancies in business. The Chinese exchange business cards with both hands. Most Europeans kiss on both cheeks, and the Colombians go left-right-left (or is it just once? I forget.)
7. Don’t chase in-house counsel down the hall to throw your business card at them. It’s tacky. Personally, I wait until they ask for a business card, but whether that is too conservative may be open to debate.
8. Don’t give out business cards during an elevator ride.
9. Don’t give out business cards in the restroom.
10. Don’t run out of business cards. It doesn’t make you look uber-popular. It makes you look unprepared.
11. Women, forget it. I know they make your calves look fat, but just wear the flats. All the other women will be, at least by Day 2 anyway.
12. Women, everyone will be staring at your chest. Mostly they’re just reading your badge, but don’t wear anything that would distract them from that.
13. INTA is a mixture of seminars, meetings, and receptions. All three are important, so leave time for each one. Get some learning in, but get out of the convention center too.
14. Pick at least one night in the middle of the conference to be in bed by 11. You won’t be a zombie on Day 5.
15. Do your homework. Some meetings will be easier than others. In case it turns out to be a hard one, it’s good to have one or two subjects up your sleeve that you were able to glean from your contact’s website or from news from his or her part of the world in the last few days to keep the conversation going.
16. Wine, water, wine, water, wine, water. And no drinking before 6 p.m.
17. If you want to come and it’s your first time, this Kat would gladly accept your email and get you on the guest list for whatever receptions and parties she can.