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Plan Ahead to Maximize Your Investment!

Advanced planning is essential to make your time at any conference a success. The SAME Small Business Community's Steering Committee is pleased to present their Top 10 ways to prepare.


  1. Determine your primary and supplementary goals for the conference.  Is it learning about specific business opportunities for your company?  Is it gaining tips on how you can more successfully compete with federal agencies?  Finding a new teaming partner?  Or maybe it’s building brand awareness.  Set focused goals so you can prepare accordingly…and then achieve them! 
  2. Find out what opportunities are currently out there for your primary NAICS code.  Look at the opportunities out there for prime contracts to which you know you can be a sub.  Do a search on Contract Opportunities
  3. Use competitive intelligence on your opportunities!
    1. Watch our past webinar on how to use such data!  Then...
    2. Use an online resource such as, Federal Compass, Fedmine or GovWin to find:
      1. What recent federal contracts have been awarded to companies like yours
      2. Prime contractors that sub-contract for your specialty
  4. Get your supporting materials together
    1. Update your capabilities statement so it is current.  If it’s been more than six months since you’ve updated it – LOOK AT IT AGAIN.  Think about creating multiple statements based on your target audience! Check out our past webinar on Capabilities Statements to give you some inspiration!
    2. Check that your LinkedIn profile is current, and update your member profile on the SAME website too.
    3. Look at your company’s other marketing materials, update them as needed, bring a handful of copies with you...and make sure you have links to them as well. Many people are used to digital instead of hard copies nowadays!
  5. Starting November 1, make matched networking appointments with agencies and companies that are participating as hosts and will help you meet your goals. Consider which agencies haven't met THEIR socio-economic goals, and work together so you can help them meet their goals.  If you have multiple reps from your company attending, divide and conquer! 
    1. Appointments will open according to the following schedule:
      1. October 17: all registered individuals from small businesses may request appointments
      2. October 24: other other registrants may request appointments
    2. Each individual is limited to making three appointments prior to the conference. If availability remains on November 15, the three-appointment limit will be lifted.
  6. Search the organizations that are exhibiting and create a list of those you need to visit!  A useful way to categorize your targets can be:
    1. MUST visit exhibitors
    2. Secondary list of companies to visit once I’ve visited with my must-connect list.
    3. If I have time…I’ll check out these folks
  7. Review all the sessions taking place and determine which ones align with your goals.  Then, bookmark the sessions in the itinerary builder.
  8. Check out our pre-conference webinars and get set-up for success...just click on the link to sign up for each webinar.
    1. Exhibiting at SBC: Preparing to Get Maximum Value - October 22 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT
    2. SBC Speaker Orientation: Prepare to Crush It - September 29 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT
    3. Matched Networking Hosts: Make the Most of Being a Host - October 6 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT
    4. Essential Strategic Preparation for SBC - October 13 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT
    5. Attendee Orientation & Training - October 24 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT
  9. Two weeks before the conference, a list of pre-registered attendees will be posted in the Attendee Service Center.  Download it and sort it…reach out in advance individually to people who can help you meet your goals!  With thousands of people expected, do not count on chance that they'll be able to do a private chat when you're available. Set up a time and send a meeting invite.
  10. Set a date on your calendar within a week AFTER the conference for follow-up with contacts made.  If you don't make it a priority now, time will pass and you'll have a pile of cards and fleeting memories.  IT IS THE FOLLOW-UP THAT IS MOST IMPORTANT! 

If you take the time to prepare - you'll be golden! 

Remember to review your plan the weekend before the big event.  Do check for new information (maybe some new hosts or exhibitors signed-on since you made your initial list), update your plan accordingly, and remind yourself of your goals.  Be flexible and have fun!  Always choose quality over quantity.  Just one right contact can have a huge impact on your business!

Additional Suggestions for a Successful Conference:

  • You cannot do it all - zero in on your top targets and sessions.  You'll never get to it all so make the most of the ones you can get to!
  • Don't focus on selling your firm and its capabilities in every conversation.  Focus on the people and getting to know them through listening.  Everything else will follow!
  • OPEN YOUR CIRCLE!  It's tempting to catch up with old friends..but make sure to keep that circle open to include new faces.
  • Bring a message of "win/win" to both clients and teaming partners. Most people are receptive when a situation is mutually beneficial.
  • JUST BE YOURSELF!  Don't stress over finding the best contacts.  Talk to people, make friends, and build relationships.  The business will come as a result.
ENJOY the conference and have fun!  We'll see you in Nashville!

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