An INTA First Timer's Post-Conference Musings: 17 Tips for Next Year's Newbies

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.  
So in no "particular" order:
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.  
After all, she’s a veteran now. 
*Dallas is a wonderful city with friendly people, great food, and Texas music.  Give it a chance.
An INTA First Timer's Post-Conference Musings: 17 Tips for Next Year's Newbies An INTA First Timer's Post-Conference Musings:  17 Tips for Next Year's Newbies Reviewed by Tara Aaron on Thursday, May 10, 2012 Rating: 5


  1. 12. Or stick your name badge to the middle of your forehead. At least everyone will remember you.

  2. > Most Europeans kiss on both cheeks

    We do??

  3. When you write about "Europeans" kissing, does that include people living on the European offshore islands ie the British Isles? I am reminded of an evening meeting of my professional body back in London, back in the 1970's. In opening the meeting, the chairman told us all how privileged we were that evening, to have "visitors from Europe" in the front row of the audience.

  4. The French kiss (the going rate is between two and four contacts on the cheeks), and the Germans have a reputation of huggers (see this show on arte).

    Of course, there are exceptions and variations...

  5. Don't rely fully upon Google Maps. I learned the hard way. I decided to get a little exercise & walk to a reception. Once I got there I realized that Google Maps confuses 14th St NW with 14 St NE. NE was in a VERY bad neighborhood.

  6. MaxDrei, I do wish I could confirm whether residents of Jersey are cheek-kissers. I suppose I should have clarified that at least in my own experience, the British are not kissers. It's more the southern Europeans. And Roufousse, the Germans that I know are kissers. Perhaps it's just Berlin?

  7. And if I offended any readers by my flippant phrase "All Europeans," I sincerely apologize. The lack of oxygen at 37,000 feet clearly affected my brain.

  8. To which cheeks is everyone referring? Wikipedia's disambiguation page offers an intriguing alternative to the conventional:

  9. Great post, Tara. Agreed with everything, especially Meet the Bloggers! :) But just a comment on "Don’t give out business cards during an elevator ride." I didn't get the chance to do that, and on the one hand I agree with you: don't walk into an elevator and just start handing out business cards willy nilly. On the other hand, let's say it's a long elevator ride and during that time you're in there, you somehow build good rapport with someone. In that case, I'd say why not give out a card.

    A few more lessons learned on my part:

    - A small pin or sticker on my badge or lapel with my country's flag can immediately identify where I'm from without people having to squint at my badge before I just blurt out "Canada!"
    - At the risk of making my badge too busy, writing my Twitter handle on it might be a good idea.
    - Find a local print shop ahead of time and have my art files with meor accessible online, just in case I run out of cards.
    - Bring with me an external battery for my iPhone.


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