The Benefits of Networking
A topic that comes up frequently among those of us in the government contracting sector is the value of attending conferences and concern about getting a return on the investment. I attended the National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE) held in Nashville, TN, this past December. This well-planned event focused on veteran-owned small businesses and in fact was very valuable.
The VA has decided to support veteran-owned small businesses by assuring that 15% of their annual contracting dollars go to veteran-owned businesses. The conference was structured in such a way so as to encourage these companies to attend.
The NVSBE is the premier and largest federal procurement event of its kind and enables business networking among procurement-ready suppliers. This year’s event was focused on procurement opportunities pertaining to Information Technology Services and Medical & Specialty Supplies Services.
The event was structured as a very large “Matchmaking” event, with 2,500 attendees. The registration process required profiling the company you were representing in sufficient enough detail so that the event facilitators’ software could find “company to company matches” and “company to VA representatives” matches.
During the registration process, attendees could access the VA software system and create a schedule for attending Business Opportunity Sessions and could schedule follow-up small “round table” engagements with VA Reps with opportunities, including potential colleague companies that could become partners in order to pursue an opportunity.
It was a whirlwind two days with learning sessions occurring simultaneously with ongoing networking. The event offered attendees extraordinary opportunities to meet VA contract managers and contract specialists to discuss specific upcoming contracts while simultaneously networking with other companies that could become teaming partners.
I came away from the event with valuable VA representatives’ contact information and a stack of company business cards. It was such an influential event that it had the effect of redirecting the company I was representing to adjust their new business development strategy for 2020.
I can’t recommend this positive experience enough. The hashtag used on Twitter was #NetworkConnectGrow and this theme was evident throughout the conference. I hope to attend again next year.
How about you? Did you go? What experiences have you had as a result of attending a government-sponsored business conference?
Image used with permission of NVSBE but is not an endorsement by that organization.