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Conferences and Networking

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By Debbie Gregory.

Conferences offer you to connect your veteran small business with a variety of connections.  Some of the connections may include potential joint venture partner, potential clients, collaborators and supporters. Attending conferences can be an excellent way to learn new skills and support your professional development, but it’s not as easy as just showing up! There’s preparation and strategy involved in obtaining the most out from these events.

The main reason to attend a conference is to build meaningful relationships with key contacts. Attending a conference can provide you the time to have multiple meaningful interactions with each of those contacts. Time is at a premium, so use it wisely.

Our next tip is for you to map out your meetings. Try to schedule meetings in a logical geographical sequence so that you don’t waste time zig-zagging around the conference venue. Whenever possible, try to arrange a smaller, more intimate get-together over coffee or a meal with a few key contacts.

It is also important to define your goals in advance. What do you hope to get out of the conference? Are you looking for new relationships? Re-connecting with other contacts? Securing customers? A clear vision will serve you well.

Plan to attend the speeches or breakout sessions that are most likely to attract your target audience. Develop questions you have for this target audience or for experts who may be speaking, and practice asking them.  Also be prepared and have your collateral and business cards available to provide your important contacts.

We also advise that you make social media work for you. Search out conference attendees, speakers and sponsors using event hashtags beforehand.  Perhaps connect with them on Linked In too.

It is important to think in terms of the long game. You want to begin building a relationship. If you have not already connected in advance with key contacts, then try to connect with them on LinkedIn within 24-hours of meeting them. It is also a good idea to follow up with an email if you have their business card and contact information

Be friendly! Smile! Ask questions and learn.

Don’t just be a taker. Although most booths give out treats out to attendees, attendees can also bring some small treats/gifts placing your business identity front and center.

And no matter what, bring plenty of business cards!

Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, VAMBOA,

 

 

 

Tips to Winning a Government Contract

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By Debbie Gregory.

Although a lot of work goes into winning a government contract, it can be very lucrative, making the hoops worth jumping through. If you’re wondering where to start, here are some tips to get you started.

All businesses can benefit from networking. No matter what stage your business is in, from just getting started up through well established, building relations and strategic alliances with mentors, other business owners and contractors can only help you. Check out networking events at veteran incubators, military bases, colleges, chambers of commerce, outreach centers, etc.

Make sure you have a team in place to handle what needs to be done. Go for quality, not quantity. Make sure that regardless of how many people you have, they know what their responsibilities are and can get them done correctly and in a timely manner.

If you were buying a house, you would want to begin the funding process before you put on offer in. In the same vein, you want to have your financing lined up before you make promises on deliverability. The SBA is a great resource, so make sure you check out how they might be able to assist you.

Build your performance history. Every company started with that first job, first order, first contract. Now is the time to start establishing your track record. Keep it on track by completing what you say you’ll do, and do it to the highest level.

Toot your own horn. Leverage the internet to showcase what you can do and what you have done. Make sure you keep your website up-to-date and post on your social media platforms.

If you don’t have many employees, remember that not every job has to be done by an in-house person. There are a number of ways to outsource the work on an “as-needed” basis.

If you do your homework ahead of time, you will be better positioned to bid on that government contract when the opportunity presents itself.

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