DLA Land and Maritime launches virtual seminars for small businesses

By Kristin Molinaro DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s Office of Small Business Programs launched their first-ever virtual Training, Knowledge and Opportunities seminar this month in response to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

The free training is typically offered in-person at the Defense Supply Center Columbus and is open to any small business interested in learning about federal contracting. Ohio’s shutdown in March impacted the office’s planned TKOs for spring and summer, and led the Small Business team to design integrated virtual instruction.

“We’re committed to building and maintaining our strong partnerships with industry – and bringing this valuable training virtually during this unprecedented time is a prime example of that,” said Jon Ferguson, a DLA Land and Maritime business opportunity specialist.

Ferguson and Small Business Professional Matt Elliott planned the virtual event. Choosing which platforms to use was their first task. One of the primary benefits of attending DLA Land and Maritime’s TKOs is the opportunity for small businesses to interact and ask DLA experts questions. To allow for that interaction to take place, Elliott and Ferguson included a conference line and a live chat website feature.

Presenters conducted live presentations heard via the call as the participants followed along with presentation slides. If participants had questions, they could either unmute their mic and ask through the conference line or type questions into the chat box.

“Once the participants typed their questions into the chat box, they either had them answered live by the presenter delivering the presentation, or by a facilitator typing it into the chat window,” said Elliott, who served as the event facilitator.

The chat box proved so popular and efficient Elliott reported no participants used the conference line for questions.

“Since this was our first virtual TKO and had a smaller audience, we were able to keep up with questions in the chat box,” Elliott said. “We’re preparing for a larger audience with steps to manager the chat box better in anticipation of a higher volume of questions.”

Typical TKO class sizes range from 50-60 participants.

“From a technical standpoint, it took considerable planning and rehearsing between Matt and I to make sure this went as smooth as possible – Matt did a phenomenal job as our facilitator,” Ferguson said. “It also required clearly communicating with the presenters and participants as we got closer to the event.”

Elliott said the team is looking into adding additional topics in the future beneficial to small businesses. Current topics range from business registration and bidding contracts to first destination transportation and packaging. 

Elliott anticipates virtual TKOs will be offered through the fall. A virtual TKO exclusive to Procurement Technical Assistance Center representatives will be held June 16. The next virtual TKO seminar open to all is scheduled for June 23.

To see upcoming course offerings or to register, visit https://tko.dla.mil/ and select DLA Land and Maritime from the drop down menu.