The Ultimate Guide to Attending an Industry Day

Industry Days are pivotal events, offering a spectrum of opportunities for bid and proposal professionals. Often initiated by government contracting officers (COs), these gatherings are not just about presenting information but about the subtle art of networking, understanding nuanced government needs, and strategically positioning your company for future contracts. Whether you’re an experienced player in the field or new to the game, here are some insights for an enriching Industry Day experience.

Understanding the Government’s Perspective

The government uses Industry Days to outline their needs, procurement schedule, and expectations from potential contractors in upcoming procurements. These events are also a venue for the government to assess the level of interest in their projects, address specific questions, and gather feedback to refine their Requests for Proposals (RFP) before they’re officially released.

Diversity of Industry Days

Industry Days vary greatly in their format and offerings. Some may be brief online discussions focusing solely on procurement timelines and instructions. Others are more valuable for in-depth engagement. They may offer face-to-face networking opportunities, question-and-answer sessions, and site visits. Evaluate each event’s format against your specific goals to determine its potential value for you.

Deciding to Attend: A Strategic Choice

Deciding to attend an Industry Day involves weighing clear benefits against definite costs. These events can provide direct insights from government officials and opportunities for building meaningful relationships. However, attending requires allocating resources, such as staff time and travel expenses. Balance these tangible costs against the potential for gaining a competitive edge in proposal preparation and networking.

Event Etiquette and Strategic Interaction

Your behavior at the event can significantly impact your outcomes. While engaging with competitors can provide market insights, it also requires discretion to avoid disclosing your strategy. Interactions with government officials should be conducted with a balance of professionalism and respectful engagement, showing an understanding of their needs without overstepping any boundaries.

Asking Effective Questions

The quality of your questions can have a big impact. Prepare by researching relevant topics and formulating direct, specific, and insightful questions. During the event, ask your questions at appropriate times and in a manner that is clear and to the point, ensuring you don’t inadvertently disclose sensitive information about your company’s approach or strategies.

Note-Taking: Capturing and Organizing Key Information

Effective note-taking involves more than just writing down what is said. Pay attention to the tone and context of the discussion. Organize your notes so they can be quickly reviewed and translated into specific tasks and strategies for your team.

Post-Event Follow-Up

The end of the event is not the end of your engagement. Follow up with the customer and potential subcontractors and teammates to solidify relationships and increase your understanding of the customer’s requirements. Demonstrate your ongoing interest and readiness to meet their needs with a competitive approach.

Conclusion

Attending an Industry Day is a decision with clear benefits and costs. Your approach to these events and the concrete insights you gain can significantly influence your organization’s position and jumpstart your win.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals. As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedInFacebookYouTube(TM) and X (Twitter).

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Brenda Crist