The global outbreak of the coronavirus means that most trade shows are off the table for the time being. For inventors, this is a serious disappointment, as trade shows are one of the best ways of meeting and building relationships with companies that work with inventors of new products or ideas.

But there's another way of connecting with these kinds of companies, and it takes place entirely online. How? Through LinkedIn.

Truthfully, using LinkedIn can actually be preferable to a trade show.

Here are some of the most compelling reasons why you should focus on making key connections using LinkedIn to move your product closer to a licensing deal.

1. It's really fast. 

You can find the right person to connect with (preferably, a marketing manager) and simply press connect. Meaning, you can efficiently network at lightning speed.

2. No travel is required.

No trains, planes, or automobiles. Paying for travel and accommodations at trade shows can get prohibitively expensive. You don't have to sweat these issues when networking online.

3. It's free.

The premium membership options on LinkedIn are not required to make the platform work for you. All of the important steps required to build relationships and submit your product ideas to companies can be done without paying the platform a dime, says Benjamin Harrison. Harrison teaches the inventors in my coaching program, inventRight, how to get the most out of LinkedIn. 

4. It's private. 

By utilizing direct outreach on LinkedIn, you limit the risk of exposing your invention to people who are only looking to make knockoffs, which is an unfortunate reality to be aware of at trade shows.

5. It also saves time. 

Unlike trade shows, making connections on LinkedIn isn't limited to a single event. Instead of having to wait for the next show, you can reach out whenever.

6. You can establish a professional presence.

Your LinkedIn profile is essentially your personal sell sheet. You can design yours to highlight your skills as an inventor and tell a short narrative that helps you stand out. If you fill out yours in a flattering way and participate on the platform, companies may even begin reaching out to you for freelance work. 

7. You control the pitch. 

Effective marketing material will sell for you. Using LinkedIn, you don't have to worry about nailing your pitch on a crowded, loud trade show floor.

Please understand that when you approach a company for licensing consideration on LinkedIn, you're not selling yourself. (Your profile does need to look professional enough that people agree to connect with you.)

Instead, you should let your sell sheet (a one-page advertisement of your product) and demo video do the selling for you. These are the tools you need to move to a deal, not great sales skills.

8. You don't have to leave the house.

Because this is a technology that can be utilized from home, it's the right networking tool for right now.

If, for whatever reason, you've been looking for a workaround to attending a trade show to pitch your invention in person, now you have one. With the cancellation or postponement of trade shows this year, the opportunity to meet face-to-face and the comradery that results will be sorely missed by all.

In the meantime, don't despair: You can still grow your network and your business using LinkedIn.