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Attending Industry Events

Audra McCarthy,
Executive Director Industry Development

Research from Harvard University shows that 85% of professional success comes from having good people skills. This means growing a business goes beyond knowing your product or service, to having the ability to develop relationships with people. Human beings are social creatures and gravitate to people with whom they can trust. Building trust takes time and patience.

Defence supply chains are complex

The kit and services being supplied are technologically advanced, integrated systems that underpin the safety of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who serve our country. The kit must meet stringent quality and technical specifications, and this requires industry to work closely, essentially forming collaborative relationships to ensure complex projects are delivered on time and to budget. In business, this requires trust and open communication.

Building trust in business takes time

It starts with meeting people and forging relationships that enable both parties to communicate openly and honestly with one another. But meeting the right people and knowing where and when to invest valuable time to build the right relationships, is a significant decision.

The Challenge for businesses

Many businesses fail to properly identify their target market and most importantly, the key relationships they want to develop. They waste significant time and resources attending industry and networking events for very little gain. The challenge for businesses is to ensure time spent at these events is clearly aligned to the strategic objectives of the organisation, and each attendance produces a positive return on investment.

Investment can’t always be measured in dollars and cents

After all, how does one place a value on an introduction that may not lead to a purchase order
for another few years? A positive return on investment can be simply measured by:

• Securing an introduction to a new market lead
• Meeting the new contract manager at a prime following staff turnover
• Maturing conversations with existing contacts and business leads whose businesses offer
complementary value
• Exchanging ideas for the mutual growth of both parties

The networking and industry events hosted by the Defence Teaming Centre are organised
for this very reason. Member and stakeholder surveys have highlighted that the DTC is highly
regarded for its ability to provide targeted, quality networking opportunities for its members that
enable members to achieve specific objectives and outcomes.

SME Summit

The upcoming Australian Defence Alliance’s SME Summit being hosted by the DTC is a good example of this. The Summit has been arranged specifically to meet the needs of SMEs. It’s one of the few professionally organised defence industry events that focuses on the needs of SMEs, and has been arranged to facilitate growth in connections and business relationships.

Focusing on the SME perspective

There is no shortage of industry events that involve presenters talking at the audience about policy. The ADA’s SME Summit is not about this. It’s about sharing information and knowledge from the SME perspective. It is focused on helping SME to understand the struggles associated with entering defence supply chains by providing examples from reputable, leading Australian defence SMEs who have ‘been there, done that’.

Having the opportunity to hear first-hand the struggles of other business and the challenges they have faced, enables SMEs to understand they are not alone. It is possible to ‘crack the defence-nut’.

Most importantly, the ADA has taken the time to invite briefs from leading programs that will need to engage Australian SMEs to meet their program deliverables. This means industry will have the opportunity to listen and meet with primes in a targeted fashion.

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