Networking with government buyers and other contractors can drive business success in 2018. Now is a great time to take a NEW approach to networking beyond the usual tactics.
So, how do you capture the attention of decision makers in more innovative ways? Networking channels and tactics have changed as agencies now reach out to the private sector for help driving their missions. Last week’s HHS hackathon addressing the opoid crisis with data is just one example.Networking events
Around D.C., you can network directly with CIOs or other agency buyers. For tech companies, check out DevOps Days DC where CIOs, government decision makers and private sector executives gather to discuss the latest technology trends.
One source for events listing is GovLoop.
More and more, agencies are collaborating with commercial companies for critical projects. Cyber companies can get involved in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)’s Center of Excellence that sets guidelines and standards for commercial technology development. Companies can get involved early in the process and provide input from the very beginning when agencies are drafting guidelines.
In another unique approach, HHS has an entrepreneur in residence program to gain ideas from outside its own workforce.
Former FCC CIO David Bray held workshops he called “creative brainstorms” to gain innovative ideas from the public and private sector. These sessions yielded great ideas as he brought together people with diverse perspectives to tackle complex government issues.
Despite all the new ways public and private sector executives can interact, here are tried and true tactics for netoworking around events.
- Check out attendees
Knowing which government agencies or prime contractors will be attending the event allows you to do your research ahead of time. Map out a plan and target those agencies and contractors that benefit from your products or services.
- Do your research
When researching government agencies, learn about upcoming expiring contracts or initiatives, forecasted opportunities or other pertinent information. Armed with research, your credibility can soar as you show agency officials you understand their needs and how your solution fits. When researching other contractors, understand their goals, past performance and current contracts.
- Prove your capabilities
Focus on how your company’s offering helps the agency achieve their goals. At events, you have a short time to speak with people so your “elevator pitch” must make a strong first impression. In addition, be sure to let a potential contracting partner know why you would be a great partner, including details on set-asides or capabilities that would help them win business.
- Vet the other prime
When networking with another prime contractor, research their history and check if their goals and values align with yours. If you’re partnering with another prime, the federal agency will review both of your performance histories and qualifications. Make sure the other contractor would make a good team member or fellow prime.
- Host an event or participate in a large event
Tabletops or booths
Renting a booth or table at a larger industry event is a solid way to showcase your brand and expertise. Research the event to make sure that the attendees are part of your target audience. Being part of a larger event can help increase brand exposure to potential buyers, and potentially earn media coverage for your company.
Lunch and learns
Host a lunch and learn or webinar to highlight important issues in the contracting community, and exchange ideas and tips while you provide training or product or service promotion.
- Follow up
After any event, follow-up is critical given the intense competition for government contracts. Cultivate your new contacts and post company insights on LinkedIn to build your brand. Send follow-up emails to continue conversations with potential government buyers or partners after the event.
Networking is critical to brand promotion and winning business now. To develop your business, check out our Fundamentals of Federal Business Development tutorial now!