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Navy BD: Establishing Command and Winning Relationships Part 2: Navy Associations and Conferences

One way to get to know your customer and gather Business Development intelligence and information on future opportunities is by participating in specific conferences, symposiums, and organizations that focus on key topics. There are many out there, but some of the biggest with a Navy-focus include The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) TechNet Indo-Pacific, AFCEA West, Department of the Navy (DON) IT Conferences (East and West), Charleston Defense Contractors (CDCA) Defense Summit, National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Gold Coast, Modern Day Marine, NavalX Tech Bridges, Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP), plus a few others.

AFCEA is probably the largest professional organization dedicated to the information exchange among the Military, Civilian, and Contractors. This can take place in the form of monthly luncheons, where local area speakers are invited to talk about a subject, usually Service or C4I related, or larger regional conferences. The two biggest/most important AFCEA-sponsored Navy Conferences are AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific, scheduled for November 7-9, 2023 in Honolulu, Hawaii and AFCEA West in February 13-14, 2024 in San Diego, CA.

A group of people at a conference looking at a panel of people and a large screen
Photo Credit: Giesler Attendance at AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific, November 2022

In conjunction with AFCEA West in San Diego and the Maritime Symposium in Norfolk, VA (May/June timeframe annually), the DON’s Chief Information Officer conducts a DON IT West Conference and DON IT East Conference. This is primarily for Government (Military/Civilian) and Contractors currently working on a Navy Program and consists of training courses and overall government program updates.

The Charleston Defense Contractor’s Association (CDCA) is aligned with Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) and Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic and conducts a quarterly Small Business and Industry Outreach Initiative Symposium (SBIOI) in the Charleston, SC area. The next SBIOI is scheduled for October 18, 2023. Once a year they also sponsor a large IT conference in December called the CDCA Defense Summit. The next Summit is scheduled for December 6-7, 2023.

A conference with a lot of booths in a large room.
Photo Credit: Giesler Attendance at the CDCA Defense Summit, 2021

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) has a large presence across the country and NDIA San Diego is notably aligned with NAVWAR and NIWC Pacific and conducts monthly meetings in the San Diego, CA area. Once a year, they also sponsor the NDIA Fall Forum in San Diego. The next Fall Forum[KU1] is coming up rapidly and is scheduled for Oct 3-4, 2023. NIDA San Diego also sponsors a large IT conference in August/September every year called Gold Coast. The next Gold Coast Conference is scheduled from August 19-21, 2024.

There are a myriad of other Navy related conferences and symposiums, including the Navy League, American Society of Naval Engineers, etc. as well as Marine Corps specific conferences such as Modern Day Marine, which is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. from April 30 - May 2, 2024.

In the last few years, Other Transaction Activities (OTA’s) have developed as alternate paths to traditional Federal Acquisition Procurement opportunities, providing the government and industry quicker responses and solutions to Warfighter challenges.

A partnership between NavalX, the Navy's Systems Commands, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) supports innovation in the Navy from hubs around the country called NavalX Tech Bridges. The NavalX Tech Bridges are at 18 locations across the world, including in Newport, Rhode Island; Keyport, Washington; San Diego, California; Orlando, Florida; and Crane, Indiana. They will serve as innovation hubs that connect the DON to companies with emerging technology.

The Navy Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) is yet another research organization that routinely puts out information for warfighter challenges that need to be solved.

A white screen with text and percentages on it.
Photo Credit: ATI on IWRP Members Supporting Navy and Marine Corps Mission Effectiveness

All of these organizations, conferences, symposiums, and alternative procurement avenues are worthwhile to look into and to understand how to engage with the Navy as a customer.


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