Rules of Engagement: Keys to Effective Partnering Conferences

14 May

By Alejandro Zamorano, VP of Business Development, LSN

Alejandro 10*10

On the global life sciences conference circuit, events are usually divided into two categories: partnering and non-partnering conferences. Partnering conferences are different from the classic “fixed agenda plus networking reception” format in that they provide an online portal that allows attendees to identify one another in advance and schedule one-on-one meetings.

When it comes to raising funds for your emerging life science company, partnering conferences constitute the industry standard, offering a distinct advantage to savvy fundraising executives. However, because the quality of these conferences varies, it is important to understand how to successfully navigate the system and effectively connect with the right people.

The first key element is to determine how much work the conference provider has put into the partnering system. This can make or break your efficacy as a fundraising executive. All too often, the profiles in the partnering system are not populated, and the search ontology isn’t tailored to the attendee base, rendering the partnering system largely ineffective.

A matching platform is only as good as the data it contains, and there are only a handful of conferences that allow companies to import full profiles into their systems, and only one or two sponsors that manually curate the profiles to ensure completeness in advance of the event. These are the cream of the crop when it comes to partnering conferences, and they make it easy to identify fits quickly and efficiently.

However, because most partnering conferences are not hands-on when it comes to their databases, there is a significant amount of noise. This forces busy executives to manually research each prospect to see if a company is a fit. Most executives fail to do their homework simply because it is too labor intensive, resulting in an untargeted or shotgun approach when they send out meeting requests. This causes not only inefficiency but also leads to frustration on the part of investors who find themselves inundated.

A big pharma licensing executive recently remarked to BioWorld:“Many of the nation’s young biotechs ignore even the most fundamental rules of engagement by failing to do basic homework. More often than not, when we’re contacted by a potential partner, [the request] has nothing to do with our strategy.”

As the industry advances, more conference providers will increasingly recognize the importance of a well-curated partnering system. But what should a biotech entrepreneur do in the meantime? Fundamentally, it’s a question of doing some careful research and identifying a “short list” of key people you need to meet based on a clearly identifiable fit. This can be done well in advance of an event, and your partnering request messages can be carefully tailored to show you are a potential fit.

Rather than trying to send out 100-plus requests over the 48 hours before an event, a methodical approach during the 10 to 15 days prior allows you to carefully identify who is a fit. This will improve your ratio of accepted meeting requests and will provide you with a much more productive partnering experience.

Remember, investors and your potential partners are there to meet companies like you, so don’t be afraid to reach out, but do keep it targeted. One well-crafted message to a likely fit beats ten vague messages to unlikely fits any day.

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