LES 2011 Experience

I am just back from another Licensing Executive Society (LES) conference.  This has generally been one of the better IP oriented conferences I go to if for no other reason than that the attendees, mostly in the licensing profession, understand what it means to network.  Licensing is all about networking and relationships after all.  Discussions are highly open.  I am watching closely, though, to see if the conference can maintain its relevance for us.  As a self-ascribed remora (small service provider) looking for sharks (innovator companies needing services), concerns arise.

The primary concern is much more remora-on-remora interaction this year…and the trend has been up, especially since 2008.  I generally, at breakfasts and lunches, try to sit at tables where I don’t know anyone given that – it being an LES conference – invariably I have a chance to talk to everyone at the table.  On two occasions, given tables of 8 or more people, I found myself at tables all with service providers, and on two other occasions, just one shark.  While always happy to trade notes with service colleagues, such a situation does not help business growth.

Of course some of this change is driven by the economy – sharks still tight on the travel budget send fewer people – more service providers, facing a tougher business environment, come to seek new opportunities – and former employees of the sharks, now also service providers, dually network for new business or new jobs.  I fielded more than a few questions from colleagues about how to drum up new business, where I wanted to say, “The first thing to do is to stop talking to me.”

Ultimately, I did make some good new contacts, and it certainly helped having the opportunity to speak to a room of 150 or so.  Ultimately, the conference should deliver a positive return on the investment, and it is always good to check in with colleagues and friends.  It may take a little more creativity going forward, though, to pull the same value out of the LES conference than it used to.

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