Another way to meet other businesses involved in the federal government sector is to join and get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. While you could potentially have a bigger impact in a county- or state-wide Chamber, the contacts you’ll make at the local level could be even more meaningful for you.
Aside from the networking events your Chamber may offer, consider taking on some committee work that’s specifically focused on small business. Here is where you can make a real difference to both your own success and to other small businesses in your area.
As an example, here are the topics that were covered at a recent meeting of the Small Business Committee of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, of which TAPE is a member:
- Portal for networking – Similar to IBM’s Supplier Connection Portal, this web-based tool for connecting businesses (it’s in the works) will be focused specifically on organizational structures in the State of Virginia.
- Business incentives for government to use small (micro) businesses – The group is researching ways to funnel work to sole proprietorships and other small businesses who do not have the resources to respond to RFPs.
- Workforce training initiatives for small business owners – States often have programs where there are tax incentives given for training recent graduates, unemployed folks, etc. so they’re available to work in a new industry. The group will look at specific opportunities for small businesses.
- Health care costs – We all know that as we add employees we gain the additional cost of health care. Employer-provided health insurance is a major cost-driver and of particular interest to small businesses. The sub-committee will work together with the Health Care Committee of the broader Chamber to express the specific needs and interests of small business owners.
If you look at the above list, you see there is one item about networking, one item about government usage of small businesses, and two items about monetary issues about your business (cost of hiring, cost of health) – this is a pretty typical agenda for this type of committee.
By getting involved at this level you’ll be the first to hear about – and work on – important initiatives, and you can advise the Chamber on policy that affects you. You’ll get to bring value to your community, meet other people who are active and working in this area, and get yourself known. You never know how many ways those benefits will come back to you over time, from being recommended for a job to getting a crucial introduction to a government contact.
P.S. Don’t forget about your PTAC office as another important local resource!