FOCM Networking Meeting Minutes

Can you believe it? These are the meeting minutes from the November 5, 2018 event in Boston. Many of the attendees were in town for the Outsourcing in Clinical Trials New England meeting. My sparse notes indicate that this was held at the lobby bar in the Westin Boston Waterfront.

We had great attendance with my hastily written down names on a piece of paper indicating the following individuals were in attendance:

Roy Ovel (we worked at ICON Clinical and have known each other 13 years)
Scott Keddy (known each other for 6 years)
Mike (last name not written down, so its clearly a good friend who I should remember or predict)
Matt (going to guess this is Matt Comstock – known each other 5 years and attended the same high school in Yuma, AZ)
Vicky Martin (known each other 16 years; also worked together at ICON)
Kate Mullis (known each other for 4 years)
Bonnie Phillips (known each other for 3 years, met via networking in NC)
Daniel Frederick (known each other for 3 years, met via networking in NC)
Bryan Clayton (known each other for 7 years, worked at YPrime together)
Katherine Cloninger (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Ted Gastineau (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Bill Taaffe (known each other 18 years, worked at ICON together)
Brian Langin (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Chris Utterback (known each other 4 years and we the same birthday)
Susan Cook (known each other 2 years, I think we met that night, Brian Langin invited her, I believe)
Adam Blackburn (known each other 7 years, worked at YPrime together)
Cory Winters (known each other for 3 years, Vicky Martin brought him into FOCM)
Dave Rosa (known each other 11 years)
Paul Eisenmann (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Jennifer Carpe (looks like an n, then….; could be Carpenter from BioTel; colleague of Cory?)
Lianne Kloppenburg (known each other 9 years)
Kristina Wolfe (although my notes indicate Figueroa was the last name at the time; known each other 3 years, we both live in Wilmington, NC)
Nicole Powell (known each other 5 years)

For those of you in this industry, this list reads like a list of all-stars, right? Unfortunately, photographic evidence of the gathering was not collected that evening.

What’s the future of Networking & Sales

Imagine if you will, that the social distancing required in this era of Covid-19 were to continue for 5 more years. How would that affect the type of businesses and individuals who depend on the meeting of new people in order to promote and introduce their products or services?

This scenario came up while having a discussion with a new connection, Joyce Blatt. As you know, I love connecting to others and remembering people’s backgrounds so I can connect them with people who need their services. One of my business partners, Tom Ryan was on a virtual biotech networking meeting and met Joyce and recommended we connect. Well Joyce and I hit it off and quickly realized, we’re both connectors. It was Joyce who was questioning how can we work in this environment. How do we keep our ears to the wall and be helpful? Without in person meetings, we have to learn other ways to connect – face to face at someone’s office allows you to look at the pictures in their office to pick up on their interests, etc. We need to utilize other methods – use LinkedIn during the meeting to see where someone lives, went to college, hobbies and interests, etc.

When you meet someone new in person, you usually get a quick read on the person’s energy, helpfulness, personality and can identify who will be good to connect and follow up with. Yes, in virtual meetings where they allow for “networking” time, you can and I have enjoyed making new connections in a few such meetings. But it’s different in both good and less good ways. In the less good way, you can’t meet or reconnect with as many people as when you work a room. In the good way, you really focus on the conversation because you’re not distracted. When in a one-to-one zoom, you’re not “working the room”, which often means you’re looking over the person’s shoulder scanning to see who else you know and might be more important.

While talking with Joyce, I had an aha moment. I was complaining how some of these virtual meetings have no dedicated networking time, so it feels unproductive to attend them only to be able to say “hi” in a chat window to someone you know or want to meet. The “aha” moment is this: I would routinely attend a small, industry meeting of around 30 people with three presentations about issues they face routinely or new regulations to address. There would be a morning and afternoon break and lunch. I had a co-worker attend one when I wasn’t able to. His reply was “what a waste of time, why do you go?”

I go, acknowledging that I am getting no other work done while being there (other than checking email on my phone), because I believe to sell in this industry requires a relationship of trust, understanding and dependability. By attending this meeting, I’m seen as a member of their community, I know the issues they’re facing AND at the breaks and lunch, I’m networking. It might be just one or two people I talk with, but its worth it in the long run. One example of the value of attending – to be helpful – an attendee asked the group for help providing items for pharmacy school graduates. I was able to get pens, notepads, flash drives, wireless mice, (promotional items from several vendors including my employer), etc. At that point and from then on I am seen by her as a friend, no longer just a salesperson looking to sell her.

Okay, so back to the aha moment, so I would go to those meetings all day just for a couple of conversations. I need to continue attending the virtual meetings, for the opportunity to make new contacts and maintain existing ones. While it feels a waste of time, I can be productive during the sessions and can interact during Q&A or in the chat window and I need to continue to attend these for the very same reasons: be a part of their community, understand their issues, and be helpful.

Assist a FOCM member

Cara Cartee (joined FOCM in 2017 in Raleigh) of CMC Events, LLC is gathering information on business travel through the use of the survey at the link below.  Let’s help her get a good response.  If you do any business travel, click on the link and complete the survey.

TribeSpring Travel Survey

Thank you in advance.

FOCM Gathers at SCDM

On Monday morning, September 25, there was a definite buzz of excitement as FOCM members attending #SCDM2017 knew that there would be a networking event that very evening.  The location, chosen by FOCM Member with card number 0001, Brian Langin was Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom restaurant at Universal CityWalk in Orlando, FL.

Brian is not in the picture below, possibly due to his past undercover work keeping America safe or maybe because he took the picture.

Attending: Vicky Martin, me, Karen Hicks, Charlene Dark, Tina Pietropaolo, Joby John, Karen McPoyle, Hugh Levaux and Jen Price.  A late (post-pic) arriver was Shae Wilkins.

Here’s how we’re connected: Vicky, Karen, Tina, Karen and I met at ICON; Hugh, Brian and I met at Quintiles, Charlene and I met through Karen Hicks at a past SCDM conference, Jen and I met at conferences, Joby and I met at this year’s conference. Shae and I met at some conference or other.

FOCM at SCDM

FOCM Membership Card Ceremony

On February 23 and 24, 2016, I found myself in Miami attending SCOPE (Summit for Clinical Operations Executives).  It is always fun to attend conferences and see old friends and make new ones.  At this meeting three people received their cards.

The first night, my friend Angela Radcliffe had arranged reservations for 16 at a restaurant’s private room and due to some issues had no RSVPs by 3 p.m. and was going to cancel it.  I asked her to give me an hour and I’d see what I could do.  We ended up getting 20 people and they had to move us to a larger room.  It was a great dinner where a lot of people met each other for the first time and Angela led it by sharing a personal story about what drew her into clinical research and everyone else shared their path to the industry.  It was a really memorable night.

On the second night, we arranged a group go to dinner at Larios, the restaurant owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan.  That was also a great group of people.  Not in the pictures: Brian Langin, Alicia Foley, David Fairbrother, Amy Zastawney.

Left side: Nick Hargaden, Cindy Howry, Richard Gastineau

Right side: Bonnie Moore, Julie Orr, Dave Kirschenbaum, Kim Assal, Ted Gastineau

Dan Weddle

Laura Peters

Janet Shropshire