Elevate Your AUTM eGroup Interactions
Participating in AUTM eGroup discussions requires little time and can pay huge dividends: finding answers to your most vexing tech transfer questions, exchanging ideas with peers around the world, making personal connections with prospective partners and more. But experienced eGroup users say being aware of specific eGroup do’s and don’ts will help you make the most of this Member benefit.
The eGroups area of the AUTM website includes 35 online communities, many of which are specific to Committees, Special Interest Groups, and events. By far the most active community is the AUTM Members Discussion Group, which includes 2,800 Members and 5,100 discussions dating back to 2009.
Some AUTM eGroup discussions are really not discussions at all, consisting of a single post with an announcement or a shared document. Others have generated up to 35 replies offering advice or sharing insights; recent popular topics include “Technology Transfer Counterparts in Companies” and “Training TTO Staff to Do In-House Patent Prosecution.”
All AUTM Members can access the eGroups, but many choose not to join the conversations. There’s nothing wrong with that—lurkers can still gain valuable insights from what others have posted. But experienced eGroup users say making the most of what eGroups have to offer requires the extra step of adding to an existing discussion or starting your own.
“The great thing about TT is that it’s a very sharing and helpful community,” said Tony Raven, PhD, former Chief Executive at Cambridge Enterprise, University of Cambridge. “But you need to participate to gain access to that sharing and help.”
One way to make the leap from lurker to participant is to ask a question.
“Don’t assume your question won’t be of interest to anyone else,” said Arundeep Pradhan, President of APIO Innovation Transfer and a past President of AUTM. “If you’re having an issue, I can guarantee that same issue has been encountered by others and solved, so please post your questions.”
Megan Aanstoos, a Licensing and New Ventures Manager with Kentucky Commercialization Ventures and a member of the AUTM Board of Directors, noted that those who are new to posting questions on eGroups should make sure to follow up for the benefit of the others in the discussion.
“If you do make an ask, come back and report your results, especially if you received a lot of private responses,” Aanstoos said.
Participating in existing conversations can be a good way for an AUTM Member to expand their professional network—as long as it is done respectfully.
“I would suggest engaging in the conversations on the list by commenting on others’ posts and posing your own questions. By doing that, you will become a known name, and when that happens it’s far easier to connect and network with others than cold calling them as an unknown,” Raven said. “But only engage when you have something to add—not just for the sake of posting something, Twitterverse style.”
eGroup courtesy dictates that Members try to make post relevant for a global audience, refrain from sharing or asking for deal terms or other proprietary information and avoid oversharing.
“Be thoughtful about how often you comment on a given topic, and avoid back-and-forth chatting,” said Christopher Noble, Director of Corporate Engagement for the Environmental Solutions Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former AUTM Board Member. “One comment per member per topic is usually sufficient.”