… And How A Doll Can Help Teach Networking To the Next Generation of Trademark Lawyers

Dateline:  May 2, 2015, San Diego, CA.  The International Trademark Association (INTA) has just launched its annual ginormous conference here in America’s Finest City.    My colleagues back at the office feign jealousy that we are in San Diego on a ‘junket.’  But the truth is, this five day mega-networking meeting presents tremendous challenges.

The opportunity beckons:  come and network with 10,000 of your colleagues (some of whom are your competitors!).  Highlight your talents and skills! Be erudite, witty, knowledgeable, magnetic and fun, all while running (really, literally, running) from venue to venue meeting as many people as you can, current and potential clients  and colleagues for about 18 hours a day for 5 days straight…

It’s grueling. It requires a plan, a steely yet warm exterior, and boundless energy.  Without a plan, it can feel like you are back on the playground egging to get picked for someone’s team and wondering what you need to do to get in the game.

While 10,000 potential targets is obviously a daunting number, INTA tries to reduce the intimidation by helping young practitioners learn to “break the ice.”  At our session on “Developing the 21st Century Trademark Lawyer,” seasoned practitioners, including yours truly, our moderator, Amalia Berg (Goodmans, Toronto), Carollanne Lindley (Kilburn & Strode, London), Tracey Berger (Spruson & Ferguson, Sydney, Australia) and Devon Sparrow, (Citrix Systems, Inc.) shared observations, tips and ideas meant to help the next generation succeed at building a viable practice. Each of the speakers emphasized mentoring, proactive skill building, thoughtful exploitation of social media, superior client care and the importance of approaching networking opportunities with a plan and reasonable goals.

To help round out the messaging the panel had a contest at the end of the session asking participants what every INTA attendee needed to succeed –with the winner being awarded a unique “INTA Doll” that had “the right stuff.”  What were her  accoutrements? A conference badge, running shoes, a detailed schedule of meetings, aspirin, Alka Seltzer, a smile, swag and something interesting to talk about with potential targets.  The winner (pictured right with her doll), Jaime  Rich Vining from Friedland Vining commented “It’s all good.  She has been a great conversation starter for me already!”

Kudos to INTA for facilitating programming that assists young professionals.  Now… back to the hordes, er… the meetings…