This is the time of year when contractors and their government colleagues can be in conferences and meetings nearly 24/7.  As we’ve said before, this is a great time to network and build relationships.  Gaining knowledge, though, is also critical.  Here are three questions to ask government speakers at events near you this autumn:  1.  How are you working to ensure that the contract vehicle I use to reach my customers stays viable?  Your company invested a lot of money in obtaining a GSA Schedule or NASA SEWP contract, and probably not a little in getting a single agency MAC.  With consolidation seeming to push more business to GSA, it’s worth asking both GSA and other agency officials, “What are you doing to protect my contract investment?”  This isn’t only true if the vehicle you use to conduct much of your business is going away, but for how GSA will manage a greatly enhanced workload.  2When is your next industry, or reverse-industry day?  A significant complaint of government contractors is that their potential customers seem to hide sometimes behind e-mail and voicemail.  Indeed, many officials prefer speaking only at widely attended gatherings, whether or not they have an active procurement coming soon.  It’s never a bad thing to encourage communication – or to debunk myths about when it can’t happen. 3.  How is everything going inside your office?  What’s eating at you? As much as contractor’s like to talk, it’s important that they listen, too.  Nothing helps build a relationship like showing a little empathy and understanding.  Recent federal employee surveys show that morale is, indeed, lower in many places.  Take the time to listen to your customer and not only will you get a better understanding of how to help them, you’ll be building trust that can pay off over time.