Whether you’re heading to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago from May 31 – June 4, or the BIO International Convention in San Diego from June 3 – 6, the upcoming weeks will be a whirlwind for startup companies looking to make connections and set up partnering meetings. These massive industry conventions bring together thousands of attendees, making it easy to get overwhelmed. To help you make the most of your networking efforts, we’ve put together five key tips:

  1. Do Your Homework Before the convention, research which companies, investors, and potential partners will be in attendance. Make a target list of who you want to connect with and learn about their backgrounds, focus areas, and recent activities. This preparation allows you to customize your pitch and talking points.
  2. Book Meetings in Advance Most major conventions offer partnering systems that let you pre-schedule one-on-one meetings. Don’t wait until you’re on-site to try and coordinate meetings. Identify your top targets and get onto their calendars early by requesting meetings through the convention’s partnering platform.
  3. Prioritize Your Time With so many parallel tracks, sessions, and events happening, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. Review the schedule ahead of time, identifying your must-attend events and meetings. Build in travel time between locations and leave open pockets for serendipitous networking.
  4. Work the Hallways and Receptions Some of the most valuable connections happen outside of scheduled meetings. Be present in common areas, starting conversations while in line for coffee or navigating crowded hallways between sessions. Also, make an effort to attend receptions, mixers, and after-parties where you can engage in more relaxed networking.
  5. Follow Up Promptly Collect contact information and make notes about your good conversations. Within a week of the convention, send personalized follow-up emails to those new connections, referencing your discussion points and proposing next steps like scheduling calls or sharing materials.

By putting in the upfront preparation, managing your time wisely on-site, and promptly following up afterwards, you’ll be well-positioned to make valuable new connections at ASCO, BIO, and other major conventions this season. Safe travels and happy networking!

This article was originally published on iBIO NewsBrief. Gain a head start on your day with iBIO NewsBrief. Subscribe to receive top industry headlines delivered straight to your inbox.

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