As a federal contractor, networking is a very important tool to help you increase your business in the Federal Government marketplace. You should not only network with federal agencies but also with potential teaming or sub-contracting partners. Putting your brand out there is a great way to get noticed by government buyers. Here are ten tips that will help you successfully network as a contractor.
- Network with Both Federal and Existing Prime Contractors
As a government contractor you will, of course, want to network with potential government buyers. Government buyers won’t hand out opportunities so it is important to attend events and be prepared to make an impression in the short time you have. It is also a good idea to network with potential teaming or sub-contracting partners. Reach out to prime contractors that could help you win a contract with an agency of interest. Show other contractors why you would be a great partner. Speak about any set-asides or capabilities that would help them win business as well.
- Check Attendee Lists
When attending an event, review who will be there. Knowing which government agencies and prime contractors attending will provide an opportunity to research any potential connections that you would like to impress. You do not want to show up clueless, simply talking to whoever comes your way. Map out a plan before you arrive and make a point to speak to the agencies and contractors that you think would benefit from your products or services.
- Do Your Research
After you check the list of attendees, research them so you are prepared. When researching government agencies, learn about upcoming expiring contracts or initiatives in the pipeline, forecasted opportunities and any other pertinent information. Showing the agency government buyers or the potential partner that you know what they need and that you have the best solution for them, proves that you are experienced and prepared. When researching other contractors, understand how their initiatives and goals will align with yours. Research their past performance and contracts to determine how you could be of assistance to them. Knowing this information will help you sell yourself as an experienced contractor that can help the agency or teaming partner win more business.
- Follow Up
Once you meet a contact at a networking event, do not forget to follow up with them. Take the initiative to reach out to further the relationship. The contracting business is very competitive and you do not want to be forgotten. It’s likely that you did not have a lot of time to talk, so if you made a good impression they may want to learn more from you. Reaching out through LinkedIn is also a great way to stay connected and the social media platform helps to build credibility.
- Prove Your Capabilities
When you are networking make sure to focus on how you can help the agency or contractor, not how they can help you. At networking events, you will only have a short time to speak with each person so you must make an impression. Based on your research, show the agency or contractor what you do and why it is useful to them.
- Vet the Other Prime
When networking with another prime contractor, you should research their organization to ensure that they have a decent performance history and that it is aligned with your goals and values. Remember that if you are partnering with another prime, the Federal Agency will review both performance histories and qualifications. You want to make sure that they will be a good team member or prime contractor.
- Host or Sponsor an Event
Of course, attending events is a great way to network, but hosting or sponsoring events is also a perfect way to promote your brand. This will prove your expertise and build your relationships within the industry.
- Continue the Relationship
Remember that forming long-term pipelines with agencies is a key component to successful contracting. When you meet potential government buyers or teaming/sub-contracting partners, it is important to follow up right away, as mentioned. If there are no current opportunities, make sure to continue reaching out when appropriate. Take the opportunity to reach out when you feel like you have a new solution for them, especially after a trigger event. This will keep you fresh in the minds of potential buyers, without being overbearing.
- Host tabletops
Tabletops are a table or small booth your company can rent at an event to promote your organization. Before renting, make sure that the event will be beneficial to you by researching attendees. These booths help to increase brand recognition and potentially attract buyers.
- Host lunch and learns
Lunch and learns are group lunches hosted by contractors to discuss important issues in the contracting community in order to exchange ideas and tips. The contractor can provide training or some product/service promotion. The attendees are typically clients who are already content with your offerings, so these events are the perfect opportunity to promote new products/services.
Networking is key when promoting your company and trying to win more business. For more information on developing your business, visit our Fundamentals of Federal Business Development tutorial.Like