Yesterday, I received a call from one of my former students asking if I had a contact at a particular company. And I was surprised to discover that I did, in fact. It made me realize how important it is to build and maintain relationships with the employees we work with. Maybe you were turned down. Maybe you weren’t. Keeping a professional relationship going is more important than the outcome of one specific interaction. You can never predict when these contacts will be valuable – but chances are, even if they never turn out to be helpful for you, they might for someone else!
I’ve always taught my students that they don’t need to have a contact to successfully submit their idea to a company. And I still believe that it’s possible to do so by following the steps: calling an operator, identifying themselves as a product developer with an idea, asking for an appropriate channel to submit to, guiding the operator to the marketing or sales department, delivering a one-line benefit statement, and following up with a sales sheet or link to the product’s website. I’ve used these series of steps for years. It isn’t the easiest thing to do and can often take many, many phone calls. Having a contact does make it easier! And after more than twenty-five years in the business, I’ve amassed quite the Rolodex of them.
The inventing community needs to rely on itself to provide networking support. A lot of people try to keep their contacts and relationships private, but I believe working together will ultimately contribute to everyone’s success. Ask other inventors for contacts before you begin calling! We’re in the process of creating a like-minded support system on the inventRight website. However, not being able to find a contact is not a valid excuse for failing to contact a company – make the call! The bottom line is: you need to show them how they’re going to make money. So do it.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight, a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas and the skills needed to succeed. You can ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.