When TAPE was first founded, my wife (CEO/President Louisa Jaffe) and I were sitting around with not much to do because we were just getting started. So we volunteered with the local chapter of AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) to lead their small business program. We were a small business ourselves, so this made logical sense.
Now it did take a little time, to find speakers for the various small business programs, and coordinate to make sure everything went well. But in return, we got incredible business development opportunities.
First of all, we were able to reach out to actual potential customers, and other folks in the local government community, to invite them as speakers. These were no cold calls, but we were still making valuable connections!
Second of all, we always got two free passes to attend the events. That meant one of us could be in the small business program, while the other could be with the “big boys” in the other room – a free networking opportunity.
More than 10 years later, and hardly with much spare time to sit around, we’re still getting involved and we’re still making important connections through those efforts. Louisa, for example, is on the board of the Army Women’s Foundation where she meets all sorts of retired army women now working in the contracting industry.
Down here in Orlando where I’m working with a company we acquired last year, I have been volunteering for a source selection improvement group – an industry/government partner group looking at problems in the source selection process.
This has given me the chance to meet a bunch of people I would have never met otherwise – contracting officers and other companies doing business in the same realm as our Orlando division – and work together to solve problems that affect us all.
These are two very good things, and all it costs is some time.
So get involved – there are government panels, committees putting on networking events, and many other options. You’ll be immersed into the contracting community and as you’ve heard me say many times:
There is business to be found through building relationships.