Mastering Industry Outreach Meetings…
Tryouts are announced!
Coach announced his goals for the season and the tryout announcement said, “All interested in being on the team need to be ready for the tryouts on Wednesday at 3 PM. Team session first and then individual try-outs. Bring your gear and be ready to show the coach what you can do.”
You didn’t really want to just “be on the team”, ready for your participation trophy at the end of the year. You wanted “playing time”! You were skilled and capable with many years of playing experience on a variety of teams, maybe even having won a few championships because of your dedication and “game skills”. You were a fine teammate and a good sportsman with a reputation for making your teammates better when you were playing. Now you were wondering how could you show that to the coaches during team tryouts and the individual tryouts? You knew there were going to be some cuts, as this was a highly competitive environment with serious coaches who had their eyes on the top prize—winning the championship!
You were amazed at how many players there were competing for so few slots……skilled players at a number of positions, deeply experienced players, newbies and rookies–some of whom were so new to the sport you had to admire their courage and determination. But you had been through this before and knew what skills to show the coaches that would ensure you would not be cut on the first day.
Making it through to the next round was the objective—a chance to go through some drills with others who made it through to determine what your position might be and how much playing time you would get this season. So you laced up your gear, picked up your equipment and went out there determined to show the coaches what you were capable of today, so you could stay with them through the next set of practices tomorrow to see if you could play on the team this year.
Thought we were talking soccer or hockey or basketball, or maybe even baseball, right….nope, you guessed it–government contracting!!
Your next tryout is your next Industry Outreach Meeting—seriously! You have heard of “do you homework” and “be prepared”. Well that “preparation” started years ago with your technical capabilities and understanding of the environment (playing field) and your homework is the time you spent on fine tuning your game skills to figure out what position you can play. Now you have to bring those two aspects together into your “tryout” for the team.
Tryouts = Industry Outreach Meetings
Coach = Prime contractor (or government customer)
Championships = Prime contracts
Game skills = Innovations
Game Experience = Your technical and government contracting background
Gear and equipment = Customer success stories and capabilities statement showing “why you should be selected.”
Good sportsman = strong reputation in industry for delivery in spite of obstacles caused by factors outside your control.
Your First Tryout!
Your Industry Outreach Meeting is your first “tryout” for a chance to be on the team that can win the “championship”. Just like the skilled player described above, you need to be on your game—polished, professional, relevant presentation skills along with success stories at the ready, completely focused on the client’s needs with demonstrated skills in prior contracts, a strong reputation for being a solid teammate by attracting top talent and bringing the ability to contribute to the capture and proposal effort.
And like the player above, showing the skills the “head coaches” are looking for in a top player—leadership (ability to see forward), high skill level (innovations), and good under pressure (solid CPARS and Past Performance).
Like the player above, you cannot just get ready the week before, it takes a while to build up the level of capabilities and relevance required to compete for government contracts. Documented “playing time” in a variety of prior efforts helps immensely. Willingness to engage and take on the mantle of leadership to potentially win championships will set you apart. And you need to show you are more than just a “game day player” with technical expertise–you need to show some team membership savvy (see the broader capabilities required to win) and seasonal maturity as practices and games (roll with the setbacks) start to take shape over the season.
Practice makes perfect
“Practices” in the form of proposal dialogues, past performance assessments, capabilities matrix burn down, additional screenings (more positional tryouts) for socio-economic redundancy and cross functional support will come as the season develops. To be a good player at this stage, you will need to stay in touch with the designated POC at the prime level, be very responsive, follow instructions to the letter, offer intelligence, insight, intimacy and information about the competition and the playing field and be ready to play additional positions if required. You need to be able to complete reviews and add value, just as you would to your team and teammates on the playing field.
As the season gets underway, games (proposal volumes development) start to take place. You will be expected to play your position by completing technical and management volume writing assignments on time, and provide quality, timely responses to data calls. Show how you can take penalties in stride as part of the game (submit pricing data, completed CPARS and Past Performance inputs) and contribute to the team’s overall strategy (SB Subcontracting Plan) as necessary.
So the “tryout” simply becomes the start of the season for your competitive environment. And you have to be more than just a “good technical player”. You have to be able to contribute to the broad team objectives as well. It is the first of many tryouts to show how you can be a good teammate by contributing the growth of the team with the ability to meet the competitors (other offerors) head on as you work together towards a championship—a contract victory!
That first 15 minute tryout is vital and like anything else you should practice at it to get better! As a famous coach once said, “Good teams practice what they are good at, great teams practice what they are NOT good at it!” You want the coaches to recognize your innate technical talent, and to see you as a GREAT teammate as well. Both are vital to “playing time”!
Industry Outreach Event? It’s really tryouts for the team! So, be on your “A” game! And remember the objective is a “championship” not a just “participation trophy”! So be a winner!
But you have to make it through the tryouts first…..and that takes practice!
Meet the Author: Kevin Hoey, Former Senior Director, Programs and Business Development Executive for General Dynamics Information Technology where he planned and directed efforts to drive growth and business development operations focused on Space and Missile Defense community, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Marine Corps Requirements generation, Space and Missile Defense Command, Army Aviation and Missile Center, Army Materiel Command and Missile Defense Agency in a wide range of professional, IT and engineering services. Developed comprehensive business plans defining potential market share and opportunities for growth in Missile Defense, engineering services, IT and Energy markets. Influences the development of relationships with business partners, potential customers and prospects within assigned technical and business areas. Mentor and Business Coach for the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama. MS from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces as well as DOD CIO, IA, IO and EGov Certificates from National Defense University. MS from Florida Institute of Technology. Colonel, USMC (Ret.)
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