By Matt Matteson, P.E.
I was first introduced to SAME through a friend and co-worker named Charlie. Living in rural Wisconsin, I was fresh out of college and starting my career in a small-town office working with a few high-level professionals within our small business, but not many peers. I was recommended to join SAME to connect with other engineers and learn how government contracting worked. I remember first seeing news about the Small Business Conference and thinking wow, how cool is it that there is a conference just for companies like ours? What I didn’t know at the time is that it was not just for companies like ours.
In fact, now that I work for a large prime contractor, I find SBC even more valuable than when I was working for a small business.
SBC, in my opinion, is the best conference of the year. SBC offers great networking activities and a robust showing of federal contracting bodies. It also provides targeted PDHs towards helping small businesses improve and it plants the seeds that will take future leaders from good to great. Big or small, there is something here for everyone.
Making Impactful Connections
I find that SBC helps me make more connections and find new partnering opportunities. One tool that our company (Wood) uses at the conference each year is our internal small business database. Conference attendees are encouraged to register, so we can easily identify them when subcontracting opportunities arise. The database is searchable by multiple factors such as professional services, business size, NAICS code, and geographic location. It is a tremendous tool for identifying small business team members.
I remember first seeing news about the Small Business Conference and thinking wow, how cool is it that there is a conference just for companies like ours? What I didn’t know at the time is that it was not just for companies like ours.
We find the greatest value to be the face-to-face conversations with the people that we may potentially work with in the future. The networking roundtable experience (a massive room set aside for selective networking) takes the typical convention format—a busy booth, lots of voices, passing friends and colleagues distracting our conversation—and flips it 180°. There are no interruptions, no passing guests, no distractions: just you and your target audience for 30 minutes. Pure connection and learning. It is where you can take your commonly found capabilities and turn them into differentiating strengths. A place to show why the next time they think “partnering firm,” they think you. On top of that, roundtables are available with the many well-represented Corps of Engineers districts you may be looking to work with. That way, you can find that special project that is a perfect fit, no matter where its geographical footprint, and find out all the details that they will be looking for when they make their selection for the work. When it comes to learning about future projects, it doesn’t get better than that.
The 2018 SAME Federal Small Business Conference for the A/E/C Industry is the place to be when looking to make that deep, serious connection with the entities you want to be working with. And this year in New Orleans, Oct. 31-Nov. 2, it’s also going to be a really great time outside of the official conference hours as well. I hope to see you there!
Matt Matteson, P.E., is Geological Engineer, Wood.