By Carrie Ann Williams, CPSM, Guest Contributor
We’ve heard it all before: if it is out on FBO then it is too late. And we all wonder, what does that really mean? Who are these firms that know about projects early? How do they know about them? And, more important, how does my firm become one of them?
The firms that are in the know, they are part of Society of American Military Engineers. And, not only are they members locally, they participate at the national events: the DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings in March, the Joint Engineer Training Conference in May, and the Small Business Conference in the fall.
As an organization dedicated to facilitating collaboration between industry and the government, SAME has developed programming that allows government and industry to build their market intelligence and their network at the same time.
By the time you are back at your desk you are sorting through a stack of business cards, hastily scribbled notes from training sessions, and a list of things to do.
For example, a firm that attends the SAME DOD & Federal Agency Program Briefings in March has a clear picture of what each branch is planning: the what, where, and when for projects and contracts. Even without a final budget, all of the agencies that presented had a plan for what they wanted to build in FY2018 and beyond. So now, the firms that have this intelligence can start planning ahead. What projects line up with their expertise? Who has existing relationships? Who do they need to know? They are building their pipeline and capture strategies for this upcoming work.
Fast forward a few months to May when they fly to Kansas City for JETC. Remember that “who-do-we-need-to-know” part of the capture strategy. Here is where they get to meet those people. It could be those in charge of the new projects. It could be the small specialized business whose expertise adds unparalleled value to their team. It could be a prime who holds the current contract. With more than 1,700 attendees and 170 exhibitors, the possibilities are endless. Not to mention the technical training sessions, which pull you away from networking to demonstrate realistic and innovative solutions to real-world problems our members have solved.
So this is where pre-planning comes in.
JETC is a blur. It goes by fast; the exhibit hall is filled with firms you want to meet; the networking events are filled with people you need to know; keynotes and sessions filled with information you can use; and at the end of the week, the ball is a whirlwind of ceremony, music, and celebration. By the time you are back at your desk you are sorting through a stack of business cards, hastily scribbled notes from training sessions, and a list of things to do.
Make the most of this opportunity to know your market by deciding now what booths you MUST visit. Schedule appointments to meet at a booth, meet for coffee, have lunch, or gather for dinner. Ask a colleague to make an introduction while you are at the conference. Plan the sessions you will attend (and plan to share what you learned with your team when you get back). The serendipitous chance meetings—being in the right place at the right time—will happen. But don’t leave it all to chance.
SAME is one of the most collaborative organizations I’ve had the privilege to work with over the past decade. At JETC you will see connections between people built over years of working together—either from time in the military, SAME membership and participation, or past projects together.
JETC brings people together who look forward to seeing each other each year. The energy is contagious as people reconnect and catch up. But the best part is that everyone is focused on the SAME mission to work together to identify and resolve our nation’s infrastructure-related challenges, and excited to meet new people who support that mission too. If you’ve never been to JETC, you will feel welcomed this year in Kansas City!
See You in #KC! at #SAMEJETC18!