The following interview about awareness building under new work conditions was conducted with Bastian Best. Bastian Best started his career with a degree in computer science before he joined the German patent law firm Bardehle Pagenberg. In May 2021 he founded his own patent law firm, BESTPATENT, where he helps companies make sense of patents in the digital transformation. His special interest lies in the patentability issues involved in artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cryptography and the Internet of Things. He is passionate to inform the broad public about those topics via his Webpage, LinkedIn and YouTube channels. Since November 2021 he is Vice President of the International Institute for IP Management (I3PM).
Background: We are currently seeing a continuously accelerating digital transformation in the IP system. Especially in dealing with the stakeholders of the IP system as well as in the relationship and communication between attorneys and clients. As well as networking and professional exchange between IP experts, for example via social networks such as LinkedIn.
- How do you perceive these changes?
Bastian Best: “The changes brought about by digital transformation affect very different aspects of my work as a patent attorney.
I started my own patent law firm in the middle of the pandemic, after 13 years in big law. Actually, C-19 was the tip on the scale for me to take the leap because it forced us knowledge workers to completely change the way we work, and to think about “work” not as a location anymore for that matter. In the old world, I had always feared the upfront investment in office space, reception staff, and all which comes with an own brick-and-mortar firm. But when these obstacles were completely removed all of a sudden I realized that it was possible to start my own business completely digitally and from my home office. As a consequence, the work with my clients is almost exclusively by video conference. That makes a lot of things easier and more efficient. And it is also my experience that this is what clients want. Not only can I exchange ideas more quickly and less complicatedly with my clients, but the relationships with my clients have become far more profound through video conferencing. This is because I still visit my clients at their offices from time to time, as in the old days, but in-between these visits I see most of them through video almost every week, which allows a much deeper connection than in the old days when it was a hassle to set up a telephone conference.
Ultimately, the decision of the EPO has also contributed to this. Video conferencing is now the “new normal” for oral proceedings and this has shown the whole IP community that this type of cooperation has arrived in daily practice.
I also follow my clients on LinkedIn and am close to what is happening there. Of course, I also let the clients know and like their content or join in the discussion. This then often sparks lots of casual follow-up chats in the direct messages. All of this further deepens my client relationships in ways I could not have imagined in the old world. In that sense, LinkedIn is basically like a never-ending water cooler gossip.
I also find out about my own area of expertise and follow and discuss with other experts – this is a rapid and value-creating exchange that I maintain on a daily basis. I really feel like I am always up to date.”
Background: The search behavior for specialist information has changed fundamentally in recent years. 40% of the 3.5 billion searches per day on Google are shifting to social networks and so more and more content is presented there.
You yourself currently have 5.033 followers on LinkedIn and you show content there.
- How relevant do you consider content marketing for awareness building on LinkedIn for your expert positioning?
Bastian Best: “Being active on LinkedIn and other social media networks is an essential part of my business development. But first of all, I’m convinced that having “lots” of followers is not really a relevant goal in and of itself, at least not as a patent attorney like me. It’s more about having a real community – that’s a key point about social in social media. In fact, one of my biggest learnings in my 15 years of experimenting with being active online is that social media is much less about “media” and more about “social”.
I see on LinkedIn that this gets misunderstood all the time. Far too many experts believe that others are interested in what awards they have won or where they have given a talk. But that’s not really relevant. Content marketing is not about the content creator, but always about about the recipient. It’s about what content might be interesting for the audience. The more you provide, the higher the quality of your communication with the community. Social media is about providing value to your audience, nothing else.
I have experienced this in my LinkedIn work. The more I tried to provide relevant and useful content for my community, the more I was asked for my expertise and support. That’s logical – you turn to someone who you can see is really an expert – based on their feed, their comments in discussions. That’s where LinkedIn is a unique highly efficient platform for me.”
Background: The search behavior for experts and the initiation of personal contacts has also changed due to social distancing during Corona pandemic and the current “new normal work“. Designed for professional, professional relationships, LinkedIn is growing by 15% annually with over 830 million members and is by far the most important network for legal advisors and IP experts.
- Do you also observe this growth in client requests from LinkedIn on your profile?
Bastian Best: “Basically, the absolute growth of LinkedIn is not really relevant for me. What matters to me is that the IP community is very active and, above all, that my target group is accessible to me via LinkedIn and that I achieve visibility with my expertise among my target group. This has always worked better for me when I have become more and more visible on LinkedIn via good and relevant content for my target group, which are mainly IP professionals in in-house patent departments as well as inventors around software/ICT/AI, but also colleagues who are looking for an expert in this field.
In fact, the business then scaled in my own community and the number of inquiries from potential clients, but also from my existing clients increased when I became recognizable as an expert through my LinkedIn work. In other words, it is up to each individual to decide how much business they generate for themselves from their expert positioning on LinkedIn. The growth on LinkedIn is relevant insofar as I think that today it is simply good form to have a professional presence on LinkedIn. That means a meaningful profile, an appropriate SSI, etc. Ultimately, clients expect that. And one should not forget that on Google the LinkedIn profile is shown as the first or second entry when searching for a person. This happens even if the searcher is not a member of LinkedIn – for me, this shows the extremely high relevance of a good LinkedIn profile.”
Background: The membership fees on LinkedIn are slightly between 100 € and 1.000 € per year. However, personal time must also be invested in order to have an attractive profile and to communicate, achieve visibility, be found, etc. As a rule of thumb, it is assumed that
- Pure observation takes about 15-20 min. per day
- Participate in dialogues at least 30 min. per day -> 2,5h per week
- Publish content and build expert status approx. 5-10h per week
- How much time do you invest in LinkedIn and are you satisfied with the cost/benefit ratio for your professional work?
Bastian Best: “It is difficult to state this as a general rule. Of course I’m on LinkedIn every day; it’s a communication channel like e-mail, for example. And it’s also an information channel for me. Ultimately, I’m certainly at the upper end of the scale with my LinkedIn activities, but that also fluctuates from week to week.
I can answer that question very clearly. I owe my professional independence to LinkedIn and generate the majority of my work via this platform, just like many other IP experts. It’s certainly a good question whether you really want to do this personally as a professional, but that’s more a question of taste; I just enjoy it too. However, I know that many others get help and ultimately the entire IP community helps each other all the time. That means I work with different networks, influencers, platforms, etc. to optimize my visibility and reach and ultimately grow my business.
As a board member of I3PM, I recommend this to all of our members – if you don’t have the time or other reasons to do it yourself, you should get help on LinkedIn – there are experts who can help you with this, and we at I3PM can help, too.”