Archive for May, 2010

More about Microblogging

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

In my prior post on the value of social media tools, I noted the potential synergy between blogging and microblogging. In this post, I will elaborate on the application and uses for microblogging and how this tool can benefit a Technology Transfer Office (TTO).

Earlier this year, it was reported that more than 50 million [Twitter] tweets per day were being generated. That’s 600 tweets per second. I characterize the more than 100 million registered Twitter users today as follows:

  • Public figures, including politicians, public servants, celebrities and sports figures. These individuals currently dominate the Top 100 lists and some have attracted millions of followers. I believe that their dominance of this medium will likely shift over time.
  • Media professionals across all sectors, including journalists, media outlets, and the trade press. The media at large has really embraced microblogging over the past 2 years. This category will continue to expand rapidly into the future, as it has provided an innovative new medium to share breaking news stories as well as editorial content on a timely and virtually continuous basis.
  • Messaging professionals, including consultants, professional speakers, and various subject matter experts. Microblogging has provided a cost effective megaphone for independent consultants and organizations with large and small advertising budgets to have a voice in a very crowded space.
  • Marketing professionals, both internal to an organization and the external service providers they hire to support them (i.e., media, public relations, e-mail marketing, and advertising agencies). This category includes forward-thinking TTOs that are creative and looking for innovative approaches to market their capabilities and intellectual property (IP) portfolios for technology commercialization and licensing.

Of course, there is also a sizeable category of “Other” individuals with abundant opinions and perspectives for anyone willing to listen.

TTOs have the opportunity to capitalize on this new communications vehicle as another tool in their marketing toolbox to supplement their current IP marketing efforts.

Is your TTO experimenting with Twitter or other means of microblogging to promote your technology portfolio?

–By Jack Spain

Social Media Tools Can Be Valuable for Tech Transfer Offices: Blogs and Microblogging

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The task of developing a social media strategy for your organization may sound daunting. So much of the hype of social media tools appears to be focused on consumers or business-to-consumer (B2C) applications. After following this trend for the past several years, I am seeing many organizations beginning to analyze and even embrace social media tools for business-to-business applications (B2B).

There are an abundance of social media tools available today, but I am going to focus on two specific tools that can deliver real value to a Technology Transfer Office (TTO) – blogs and microblogging.

Blogs (or web logs) can be an effective vehicle for communications today in a time when information travels at the speed of the Internet. Blogs can be used by TTOs to:

  • Communicate valuable expertise and experiences with technology commercialization
  • Broadcast information on key intellectual property and licensing opportunities across your institution or enterprise
  • Share critical needs for collaboration and partnerships—an important component of Symbiotic Innovation
  • Improve overall awareness of your organization

While microblogging tools (dominated by Twitter today) have considerable limitations, they offer the potential to be an effective communications vehicle. Microblogging can be utilized to:

  • Announce new blog postings and other relevant announcements
  • Provide your organization with a communication tool to quickly and cost-effectively extend your reach to prospective licensees and partners
  • Expand and extend your current professional network of contacts

Since some TTOs are uncertain about whether they should be microblogging, I will elaborate on that particular social media tool in another post later this week. And next week, I will share my guidelines for effective blogging and microblogging.

What social media tools have you used to enhance your B2B communications?

–By Jack Spain

Effective Communications with External Stakeholders

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Establishing effective communications with potential licensees or prospective partners external to your institution or enterprise is a daunting task. Successfully getting someone’s attention, developing the business case for a constructive dialog, and establishing the proper protocol for effective interactions can be quite complex and time-consuming. My tips for effective communications with external associates include the following techniques.


1.     Empathy. It is worth the investment of your time to conduct background research on your prospective partner’s business including market strategy, financial condition, and recent news and events to increase your chances of conducting successful meetings and negotiation sessions. To the extent possible, seek multi-dimensional win-win-win agreements for strategic self-sustaining partnerships.


2.    Value Proposition. It is often wise to assume that your target contacts are overworked and paralyzed from information and assignment overload. It will work to your advantage to develop a succinct “elevator speech” on the value and benefits that your institution brings to the relationship. Be prepared to utilize multiple communication approaches that best fit the most appropriate communication style for your target audience.


3.    Communication. Attempt to speak in the language of your partner, being sensitive to the use of acronyms and the vernacular of your office, industry, or institution. Effective listing skills are quite often the most powerful proficiency that you can utilize for effective communications to establish new professional relationships.


4.    Investment. Results are typically commensurate with investments of time and resources. If you are negotiating or facilitating a big deal, prioritize, plan, and invest your time proportionately. Successful outcomes result from clearly defined deliverables, roles, and responsibilities while proactively managing expectations throughout the process.


5.     Metrics. It is important invest time to clearly define the appropriate criteria for success. Ideally, the criteria should be objective, rational, and relatively easy to measure. Once defined and agreed upon, monitor, track, and proactively communicate the results to key stakeholders.


Effective personal and professional relationships are a function of trust through consistent communications with integrity. Effective communications is the foundation to executing deals and developing new productive external relationships for your institution.

—By Jack Spain

Effective Communications with Internal Stakeholders

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Maintaining effective communications with key stakeholders within your institution or enterprise (i.e. inventors, attorneys, administrators, financial, or public relations personnel, etc.) sounds easy, but quite often is considerably more challenging and resource intensive than we expect. Many of us are working with colleagues who have too many demands placed on them with too few resources and too little time. My tips for effective communications include following techniques.


1.     Empathy. View your role as a “service provider” and think of your internal colleagues and associates as “customers” and “suppliers”. With this perspective, it is important to invest time to understand your customer’s goals, objectives, issues, and challenges which can be accomplished by exercising effective listing skills during your interactions.


2.    Communication. It is almost impossible to over-communicate today with the amount of information transmitted continuously across your organization. Be proactive in your communications and attempt to speak in the language of your customer (i.e. beware of acronyms and internal office or industry vernacular). During your interactions pay close attention that your colleagues are actually listening to you and acknowledging your dialog. Far too often our colleagues may be paralyzed from information and assignment overload.


3.    Understanding. Invest adequate time to ensure that you fully understand the needs and expectations from your customers. Identify the specific criteria for success for both parties and seek multi-dimensional win-win-win agreements. Always keep in mind that last minute changes are considerably more expensive than getting it right the first time or making the necessary course corrections early in the process.


4.    Commitment. Prioritize your projects and your time on a continuous basis. Remain attentive to key milestones and events and keep in mind that “no” is an acceptable answer if your current priorities do not permit you change direction or commit to additional actions (of course, most things are negotiable). Bottom line is that results are generally commensurate with investments in both time and resources.


5.     Relationships. It is quite advantageous to build relationships proactively. Your network of professional contacts can often be leveraged to your advantage to connect with key influencers and decision-makers across your institution. It is also important to remember that initial impressions are very difficult to change so initiating any new relationships in a positive manner will often set you off on a trajectory for success.


Effective personal and professional relationships are a function of trust through consistent communications with integrity. Effective communicators are often associated with delivering positive results. Maintaining this type of reputation will position you and your organization for successful working relationships across your institution.


—By Jack Spain