In the next few weeks and months there are many government-sponsored conferences being held to attract small businesses to, and inform small businesses of, government agencies’ upcoming contracting opportunities.
Toward the end of this article, you’ll see a list of many government-related vendor conferences coming up, along with details on how to register.
But before jumping right into that list, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) suggests you take a few preparatory steps. After all, it’s important that you make a sound decision about whether it’s worth the time, effort, and expense to attend a particular vendor conference.
First of all, small businesses should make no mistake about it: government agencies may need you more than you need them. Federal agencies are under the gun to ensure that small businesses — including 8(a) firms, companies in HUBZones, service disabled veteran owned small businesses, and others such as women-owned businesses at the subcontract level — get their share of the “contract spend.”
(Keep in mind that this is especially true as the federal government nears the end of its fiscal year — Sept. 30th of each year. Contracts must be obligated by that date, or agencies lose those budgeted funds. In addition to spending by that date, often there’s also a rush to meet small business goals.)
All this is why agencies host conferences — to demonstrate that they are reaching out to the small business community.
Does that mean that you should attend as many governmental vendor conferences as you can, and that by attending, contracts will begin to fall in your lap? Hardly.
From GTPAC’s perspective, government-sponsored vendor conferences run the gamut in value. Some are well-organized, featuring details on specific, upcoming opportunities as well as access to the decision-makers. Other conferences, however, can be disappointing, consisting of little more than “a dog and pony show.”
So how do you select a good conference to attend? How do you reduce the risk that you’ll be attending a conference that has little value to you?
There are several things you should do before deciding to go to a government-sponsored vendor event. Here is a checklist:
1. Research the conference sponsoring agency’ s forecasted contract opportunities. Look for the sponsoring agency’s annual procurement forecast on that agency’s website. Use www.google.com/unclesam and type in the name of the federal agency and “procurement forecast.” (If that search fails to produce the results you need, check https://www.acquisition.gov/comp/procurement_forecasts/index.html.) One thing for sure, before you attend an event, you want to make sure the sponsoring agency buys what you sell.
2. Find out what contract opportunities will be the subject of the conference. Even if an agency buys what you sell, you’ll want to make sure that will be the focus of the conference. Look in the conference announcement — see if the agency identifies specific goods and services that will be the focus of the conference. Are the NAICS codes for future contracts identified, and do they match-up with yours?
3. Determine whether you’ll get access to decision-makers. Look for opportunities to meet one-on-one with the people who make the buying decisions. Good vendor conferences will provide you with the opportunity to meet, on an appointment basis during the event, with agency contracting officials. See if you can make appointments as a part of the registration process or whether such opportunities exist on-site at the event. Think outside the box: If you arrive early — or stay late — will you be able to spend time with the people who award contracts?
4. Once you select a conference, prepare yourself. Remember, only one-third of the “action” occurs at the event itself. You should spend the first third of your time preparing to attend. And another third should be spent in follow-up, after the event. If you are not prepared to make this much of an investment of your time, maybe you shouldn’t attend. To help you prepare, attend, and follow-up, we recommend you read our detailed article at: http://gtpac.org/2012/12/14-tips-for-attending-a-government-expo-or-trade-show. Your GTPAC Counselor will be glad to elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice. You can find our contact information right here.
Now, what you have been waiting for: The information about upcoming government vendor shows. Here they are:
- NAVSEA Small Business Conference – February 1, 2011 – Miami, FL – Details at http://www.sbconference.org/.
- Small Business Dynamics and Job Creation: Facts, Obstacles and Best Practices – February 2, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – Details at: http://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/2011/01/tech-hosts-small-business-forum-feb-2/.
- USDA Forest Service A&E Business Opportunities Briefing – February 9, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – Details available at http://gtpac.org/2010/12/learn-about-architectural-engineering-services-needed-by-the-forest-service.
- Model Based Enterprise (MBE) Supplier Education & Training Summit – February 22, 2011 – Hunstville, AL – Details at: http://model-based-enterprise.org/MBE-Events/default.aspx.
- Small Business Speed Partnering – February 22, 2011 – Albany, GA – http://gtpac.org/2011/02/want-to-meet-with-government-buyers-albany-ga-is-the-place-to-be-on-feb-22nd/
- Southeastern Regional Matchmaking Event – February 24, 2011 – Miami, FL – Details at: http://www.businessmatchmaking.com/regionMia.shtml.
- Public Health Preparedness Summit – February 22-25, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – Details at: http://www.phprep.org/2011.
- Greening the Supply Chain Listening Session – March 17, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – http://gtpac.org/2011/03/greening-the-supply-chain-listening-session-scheduled-mar-17/
- US Army Corps of Engineers 3rd Annual Regional Service Disabled Veteran & Small Business Conference – March 22-23, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – http://gtpac.org/2011/03/corps-of-engineers-announces-design-construction-conference/
- Jobs Act Tour – March 30, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – http://gtpac.org/2011/03/jobs-act-tour-coming-to-atlanta-on-mar-30/
- “Getting Back to Business” Atlanta Small Business Procurement Industry Fair – April 13, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – http://gtpac.org/2011/03/gsa-and-health-human-services-host-industry-fair-april-13th/
- US DOT OSDBU Small Business Summit – April 20-21, 2011 – Washington, DC – https://www.fbcinc.com/osdbu/default.aspx
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Small Business Conference – April 27, 2011 – Decatur, GA – http://gtpac.org/2011/03/epa-to-hold-small-business-event-april-27th/
- GSA Training Conference and Expo 2011 – U.S. General Services Administration’s Annual Expo – May 10, 2011 – San Diego, CA – Details at: http://www.expo.gsa.gov/ (Copies of the proceedings from the May 2010 GSA Expo in Orlando, FL may be found at: http://188.8.131.52/gsaSchedule2010/admin/display.cfm.)
- Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Small Business Outreach Event – June 22, 2011 – Warner Robins, GA – Details to be announced.
- DLA Enterprise Supplier Conference & Exhibition – June 27-30, 2011 – Columbus, OH – https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=a6f1568f5a0c0127c543fd1630ce0ac4&tab=core&tabmode=list&=
- 2011 Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (VETS2011), June 27-30, 2011 – Reno, NV – Details at: http://stats.aqseventsupport.com/e3ds/mail_link.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fveterantrainingsymposium.com&i=2&d=269UY252-0V30-411Z-9385-765U50858358firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 7th Annual National Veteran Small Business Conference and Expo – August 15-18, 2011 – New Orleans, LA – Visit http://www.nationalveteransconference.com/ and sign up to receive email updates on registration, agenda, speakers, and other announcements or submit any questions you may have regarding the conference.
- National Recreation and Park Association Congress & Exposition – November 1 – 4, 2011 – Atlanta, GA – Details to be announced.
2010 Conferences (Note: Conference materials are posted on many past conferences.)
- GSA Schedules Contract Training– December 13 and November 15, 2010 – On-Line Webinar – Register for the Nov. 15 webinar at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/670264562; Register for the Dec. 13 webinar at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/913141458.
- 7th Annual Alliance South Small Business Procurement Fair – December 7, 2010 – Atlanta, GA – Details at: http://www.allianceforbiz.com/events/specific_event.php?id=128.
- Aerospace Industry Committee (AIC) 8th Annual Requirements Symposium – November 16 – 18, 2010 – Perry, GA – Details at: http://www.wrcoc-aic.org/Page8.aspx.
- 6th Annual Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Forum – November 10, 2010 – Atlanta, GA – Details at: http://gtpac.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Annual-GSA-Veterans-Small-Business-Event-11.10.2010.pdf.
- Department of Defense “Industry Day” focusing on the shipbuilding industry along the Gulf Coast – November 9, 2010 – Biloxi, MS – Details at: http://gtpac.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/3rd-Annual-DoD-Shipbuilding-Industry-Day-Nov-9-2010.pdf
- The Governmental Purchasing Association of Georgia’s annual Georgia Vendor Exhibitor Fair – November 2-3, 2010 – Perry, GA – Details at: http://gtpac.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/GPAG-Vendor-Fair-Nov-2-3-2010-Perry-GA.pdfNational SBIR Beyond Phase II Conference & Technology Showcase – September 13 – 17, 2010 – San Antonio, TX – Details at: https://www.beyondphaseii.com/index.aspx. Emergency Response Contracting Conference – June 21, 2010 – Atlanta, GA – Conference proceedings now posted at http://gtpac.org/training/training-video.
- 4th Annual SDVOSB/VOSB/SB Conference & Match Making Expo – October 28 – 29, 2010 – Tampa, FL – Details at: http://www.dm.usda.gov/osdbu/FBOAnnouncement_13Aug2010.pdf.
- Small Biz Contractors’ Forum Presents: Contacts & Contracts – October 27, 2010 – Atlanta, GA – Details at: http://www.nasbc.org/contacts-contracts-georgia.
- City of Albany Small Business Procurement Program Kick-Off & Orientation – October 18, 2010 – Albany, GA – Details at: http://gtpac.org/2010/10/city-of-albanys-small-business-program-kick-off-set-for-oct-18.
- University System of Georgia – South Georgia Regional Procurement Expo 2010 – October 15, 2010 – Savannah, GA – Details at: http://gtpac.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Univ.-System-of-GA-Procurement-Expo-Oct.-15-2010.pdf.
- Effective Problem Solving – Life’s Most Important Skill – September 9, 2010 – On-Line Webinar – details at: https://mep-nist-events.webex.com/mep-nist-events/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=997194952
- Annual U.S. Army Infantry Warfighting Conference – September 13 – 16, 2010 – Columbus, GA – Details at http://gtpac.org/2010/09/army-vendor-showcase-in-columbus-ga-in-sept.
- GSA’s Public Buildings Service Educational and Matchmaking Conference – August 31, 2010 – Atlanta, GA – Details at http://gtpac.org/2010/08/gsa-to-host-public-buildings-service-vendor-conference-aug-31st – Conference proceedings now posted at http://gtpac.org/training/training-video.
- Interior Dept. Small Business Boot Camp
- Air Force Information Technology Conference – August 30-31, 2010 – Montgomery, AL – Details at http://gtpac.org/2010/07/air-force-to-host-it-vendors-in-montgomery-al.
- Clayton County (GA) Business Community Meeting– August 26, 2010 – Jonesboro, GA – Details at http://gtpac.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Clayton-County-Business-Community-Meeting-Aug.-26-2010.pdf.
- Minority Enterprise Development Week Conference – August 25-27, 2010 – Washington, DC – Details at MEDWeek flyer – Conference proceedings now posted at http://www.medweek.gov/conference-presentation.
- SBA Veterans Export Business Symposium – August 24, 2010 – Lawrenceville, GA – Details at Veterans Export Symposium 08 24 2010.
- USWCC Women-Led Economy Launch Meeting – August 17, 2010 – Atlanta, GA – Details at: http://www.uswcc360members.org/memberarea/EventList.aspx – Post-conference details now available at: http://www.uswcc.org.
- Georgia Small Business Summit – August 17, 2010 – Macon, GA – Details at http://gtpac.org/2010/07/sen-isakson-to-host-small-business-summit-in-macon.
- Marine Corps Logistics Command’s Annual Vendor Event – August 12, 2010 – Albany, GA – Details at http://gtpac.org/2010/06/albany-marine-corps-base-hosting-vendor-event-aug-12th – Conference proceedings now posted at http://www.logcom.usmc.mil/sbpo
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