Under the umbrella of the IP Inclusive initiative, the first Women in IP event was held on 2nd November 2016, hosted by IP Inclusive Charter signatory Norton Rose Fulbright. Feeling a bit daunted on arrival at the rapidly filling room confirmed that one of the topics of the event – networking – was going to be a very useful one.
After introductions, the event began with Andrea Brewster outlining the aims of IP Inclusive, and explaining how the Women in IP committee aims to facilitate the building of a network of women across the IP professions that will enable challenges to be recognised, shared and overcome. I haven’t attended many of these events, but it felt welcoming from the outset as Andrea explained in her introduction that it was open to all members of the IP profession including patent and trade mark attorneys, solicitors, barristers, trainees, administrators, UK IPO staff and searchers. In fact, as Andrea pointed out, just seeing the number of women together in one room gave a sense that “prevalence is confidence”.
- Determine what you need from a mentor – what skills do you need to develop, what advice do you want?
- Work out if someone has got the information/experience you are looking for, and if so
- Ask them to be your mentor!
The panel talked about not only benefitting from having mentors themselves but also from mentoring others within their firms and organisations, via the CIPA Informals, and via university societies, outreach programs, and via the Law Society.
- Following-up selectively and personally – don’t feel obliged to follow-up with everyone you meet, and don’t send the same generic message to everyone!
- Follow up promptly – this could be via LinkedIn®, email, or if the connections are within your organisation, dropping by their desk/office.
- Connecting via LinkedIn® – this can provide an easy way to find out about your contacts’ new qualifications, new ventures/jobs, and interests, and provides you with something to talk about when you follow-up or see them again.
- Keeping in regular contact, not just when you want something!
And then it was time for drinks! After listening to the discussions on networking, it felt more comfortable than usual to both catch-up with people I know and meet new people at the reception. I chatted with representatives of the UK IPO, which was interesting and gave me some insight into the other side of the patent prosecution process. As the reception went on well past the scheduled end time, it seems that many of the attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to connect and reconnect.
I thought the event was expertly organised and enjoyable, and it provided much food for thought and many practical suggestions for building and maintaining a network. I’d recommend future events to all, and it would especially be nice to meet other paralegals, administrators and practice managers at the next event.
Thank you Cathy for this great report!
There is clearly an appetite among women in IP for more events of this type, so we look forward to the next Women in IP event. If you have any thoughts about event types or topics for discussion, please get in touch with us via the comment box below or via the Women in IP LinkedIn® Group. The committee hope to have webinar-based events and regional events too – if you are interested in organising a Women in IP event in your region, the committee would like to hear from you!