The Art of Connecting: Using Med-Tech Mixers for Business Development

by Mike Kanis, Sales Engineer

In the med-tech industry, there’s a strong likelihood your path will cross with the same individuals more than once. As members of an ecosystem, it’s somewhat inevitable that we will work with the same partners more than once or pursue similar new business opportunities when projects come online. While it may seem repetitive at times, the efforts made to forge strong connections within this industry more often than not pay dividends when it comes time to link names with faces and turn a handshake into a significant opportunity for your organization.

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a forum and networking event organized by the Medical Development Group of Boston, or MDG Boston. On a monthly basis, MDG Boston holds forums featuring expert panelists on topics of interest to medical technology professionals such as robotics, 3D printing and nanotechnology, among other topical subjects. They typically highlight entrepreneurial opportunities, intellectual property, marketing and sales, regulatory aspects and more.

MDG Boston’s events are both educational and social in nature, as a primary goal of the organization is connecting those of us who work to further the research and impact of New England’s medical device community. As a representative of Proven Process Medical Devices in Mansfield, I have often attended these events to grow my awareness to current events and trends affecting the device industry in Massachusetts as well as to expand my own network of connections and colleagues.

As a sales engineer, I understand fully how attending these events can make a long day seem even longer; we’ve all been there. But then the irony struck me: after hours of slogging through RFPs and preparing proposals, the reason I’m able to tackle new projects is because of groups like MDG. Without the steady presence of an organization designed to encourage introductions and ongoing communications, Proven Process as a company may not have had a bite of the apple for some of the very work we’re proposing on. But it’s a two-way street as it relates to how these events benefit both the developer and the manufacturer: the setting of a low-key, informational gathering gives developers the opportunity to casually vet potential partners, gaining an understanding of the individuals behind a manufacturer without ever having to schedule a meeting.

A perfect case-in-point occurred at an MDG event held in December, “Building Intelligent Mobile Health Applications for Today and the Future.” In addition to being an excellent analysis of the state of the mobile health application market and the opportunities for developers and manufacturers to collaborate on exciting projects, it also provided me with the chance to connect to a recently-appointed CEO of an up-and-coming medical device company. While I didn’t know it at the time, his firm was planning to issue an RFP to develop a new device – and that chance introduction, inspired by a personal interest in the integration of mobile and medical device technologies, gave him an early look into both the types of people who work at Proven Process and the capabilities we bring to bear.

Although you can argue that the encounter may have taken place at a later date, it’s also fair to say it would have occurred while in a crowded field of other medical device manufacturers anxious to propose on the work. Attending this MDG event gave me a leg up on the competition and gave the CEO a candid look at the type of partner he’d have if he chose our firm. While it’s easy to lose hope that networking events can yield such fruit, it’s important to also remember that a friendly encounter now – free from the pressures of an interview – can provide the best look inside a manufacturer’s culture that may not be possible at a later date. So get out there and shake some hands. You never know when there’s a CEO on the other end.