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How to Prepare for a Government Procurement Conference, Matchmaking Event, or Fair

By: Sherri Komrosky
Business Opportunity Specialist
North Dakota District Office

Government procurement conferences, matchmaking events, as well as federal, state and local government procurement fairs, offer opportunities for small businesses to connect with government agencies, prime contractor buyers and other small businesses.

You only have one chance to create a good impression, if you are ready and prepared you can come away with good contacts, valuable insights and business leads. Preparation is essential, it is better not to go at all than to go unprepared – you never have a second chance to make a good first impression.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare:

Complete all agency and prime contractor registrations:

  • To do business with the federal government, you must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) at www.sam.gov. Complete your registration before you attend a procurement event. Read 8 Tips to Get Your Business Registered in SAM for tips on completing the registration process.
  • State agencies and prime contractors also have website registrations.
  • There are many different types of federal, state and local certifications.  If your business is minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned or located in a historically underutilized business zone there may be a certification for you, learn about these certifications and if you qualify – apply!

Identify the agencies that will be in attendance and familiarize yourself with the agencies you are targeting:

  • Check out agency websites - what is their mission and goals.
  • To understand what federal agencies buy, explore archived bid opportunities at www.fbo.gov.
  • Search agency forecasts at www.acquisition.gov/procurement-forecasts. Forecasts are a list of projects that, if the money is available, government agencies would like to purchase.
  • After doing your research, write down any questions you have for the agencies.

Be prepared with your marketing materials:

During the event:

  • Remember buyers don’t have time to waste. They want specific information and they want to know what’s special about you. Tell them how your company can help them!
  • Collect business cards and agency materials.
  • Develop and be prepared to deliver a 30 second “elevator pitch” about your business. What is special about your company and why is your products/service the best?
  • Dress to impress and wear comfortable shoes.

Follow-up after the event is critical:

  • Gather all of the business cards you collected and write follow-up notes or emails promptly.
    • Thank them for their time;
    • If appropriate, request a follow-up meeting or call;
    • Include your eletronic capability statement;
    • Include any other marketing materials or information that they requested.
  • Make notes on what went well, what didn't, and what questions were asked. This information will help you prepare for the next procurement conference, matchmaking event, or fair.

Sherri Komrosky is a Business Opportunity Specialist for the North Dakota District Office. In this position, she is responsible for assisting North Dakota small businesses gain access to government contracting opportunities and utilize the federal 8(a) and HUBZone programs. Prior to joining SBA, Sherri served was the Minnesota Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Program Director for 10 years; Northern Minnesota Area Manager for 15 years; and with the North Dakota PTAC for 2 years. Her government experience began with the VA Medical Center in Fargo where she held various positions during her 8 years there, many in the procurement area. Sherri can be reached at sherri.komrosky@sba.gov.