“I wish I had a network like yours!”

Have you ever heard this from inventors seeking help? I hear it quite frequently.

Here is the flaw in that thinking: a network of valuable contacts is not something you have, it is something you build – one person at a time. Every inventor begins with the same network of one – themselves.

Make sure to grab the free PDF – How to Build Your Network – now.

Also, want to learn about licensing your product for royalties?

Click on the – License Your Invention for Royalties – webinar for all the details. Sign up to attend the LIVE information-packed free webinar now.

Step 1 – Join IGA

Are you a new inventor who really doesn’t yet have a network? Then how do you get started?

Here is a great start: Join IGAInventor’s Group of America – Stephen Key has built a network of local inventors group resources and connections, plus lots of other resources. Also, there is a map that shows local inventors groups all over the U.S. You can find the one nearest you. Suddenly, your network just went from 1 to many contacts. That was easy, wasn’t it?

Step 2 – Join Your Local Inventor’s Group

Next, you need to commune with other crazy inventors each month by joining the local inventors group in your city (see Step 1 above). Joining my local inventors group – Texas Inventors in Plano, TX – was the best networking decision I ever made.

What will you find in a local inventors group?

First and foremost, you will find lots of other inventors who are going through the same journey you are: trying to turn ingenious ideas into prototypes, then inventions and, hopefully, products that can make money.

You’ll find inventors at every stage: some who are just starting with an initial idea, some who have filed a patent for their product, some who are working to build prototypes, and some who are selling their finished inventions in the marketplace. Remember to never divulge the details of your product to any of them unless or until you are patent pending. This is a great opportunity for mentorship – you can mentor some and get mentored by others. Unlike your colleagues at work, the inventors all understand your trials, tribulations, frustrations, but also wins and exciting moments. It is great to share experiences.

Also, most inventors groups have patent attorneys or agents among their members. Often you will find members who are prototypers or who know of prototypers to help with that need. So many resources – all in one place!

One suggestion: your very first question to every member you meet should be: how can I help you?

Of course, you are looking for help, but so is everyone else. First impressions are important. Show everyone that you are happy to be a resource in any way you can and they will certainly be happy to help you in any way they can. Networking is always a two-way street: you have contacts that may be helpful to others and others, in turn have contacts that may be helpful to you.

Step 3 – Join a Local Makers Space

Most major cities now have one or more makers spaces. Makers spaces are collaborative work spaces that feature lots of equipment, such as CNC machines, 3D printers and more, plus training and more great contacts. Typically, you pay a monthly membership fee to join and then have access to all the resources 24/7.

When many inventors complain they simply cannot afford to build their prototypes – they picture putting all the tooling and equipment into their garage or hiring someone to build the prototype for them. Why do that when you can go somewhere where the capital investment has already been made, where there is training and others who can help you?

At the makers space, your approach should be the same as at the inventors group: ask first how you can help others, then about how they may help you. In the beginning, you may not see how you can help them, but over time, you will be able to help new members and others as well. Lastly, you will meet people that aren’t in the inventors group – you will expand your network even more. Plus, you will have lots of good prototype help.

Step 4 – Cherish Those Who Tell You ‘No’

What?

You will be pitching your invention many times to many different people because, most often, the answer will be ‘no.’ Don’t you hate that? It is part of the process of being an inventor.

But every person you meet with or pitch to should be a cherished resource, even those who reject your product. Why? There are several reasons.

Maybe you pitch your tool invention to the team at Stanley Black and Decker and, sadly, it is just not for them. What are the odds they know contacts at Kubota or other tool companies? Also, is it possible that the timing is just not right, but if you come back in 6 months, maybe it will be.

Make sure to get business cards and emails for your key contacts from the meeting. Thank them for their time and tell them you’d like to reach out to them periodically to give them updates on your progress. They will be quite receptive to hearing from you again. You never know how disappointing ‘no’ may open the door to a future ‘yes’ for you. You have just expanded your network very productively.

I’ll finish with a short story. When I pitched my thin wallet invention to Tandy Brands Accessories a number of years ago, they were quite interested in licensing the product. I was ecstatic… until my next meeting with them, where they told me it jus wouldn’t work for them. I had trouble containing my emotions at the time – I wasn’t just upset, I actually was angry with them.

But, the CEO at the time, Britt Jenkins, suggested that my product was a sell on TV product and said I should take it to QVC. Once I got home and calmed down, I realized his suggestion was a very good one. So, I followed his advice and took it to QVC. Soon I needed a new manufacturer in China (and a lower cost) so I could get it into QVC, I reached out to Britt Jenkins for advice and he gave me an excellent contact, Charles Chiang at Great Light in China. I sold over 5,000 wallets on QVC which ultimately led me to license my invention to Allstar Productswhere over 2 million Wonder Wallets have been sold into the marketplace.

I cherished that no and it turned out to be my best resource ever. Stay tuned.

Make sure to grab the free PDF – How to Build Your Network – now.

Also, want to learn about licensing your product for royalties?

Click on the – License Your Invention for Royalties – webinar for all the details. Sign up to attend the LIVE information-packed free webinar now.