Meet government customers (Events): Meeting government officers is surprisingly difficult and one of the best ways is to attend federal market events:
Events where your customer is speaking
Tech centric events
New vendor outreach sessions
Meet potential partners (Associations): A great way to meet and get to know partners is by joining associations:
Chambers of commerce
State economic development associations
National associations: There are a few national govcon associations that have local chapters:
Finding events & associations:
Look in the RFIs/RFPs: Sometimes the government will hold an “Industry Day” or “Proposer Day” or Q&A session related to an RFI/RFP. As you read solicitations look for events and add them to your calendar
Government events aggregators: The best events aggregators we’ve found are:
OSDBU: The small business office at your target sub-agencies
Govevents.com: We are not affiliated with GovEvents but they do a great job collecting government events: https://www.govevents.com/
Peers: As you talk to other business owners in your market ask them about events
Refresh your list: The FedScout task manager will periodically remind you to look for events, but if you don’t use FedScout add a recurring reminder to your calendar
Joining committees and working events
Getting past the schmooze: If you are more introverted, then networking events can be daunting and low value (I personally hate approaching strangers and pitching myself) so if this sounds like you, (or even if you love meeting strangers) consider volunteering for committees or to work the events.
Committees: Every trade association has a variety of committees, there are event committees, new member committees, budget committees, so many committees. And if you want to meet potential partners in a setting where you can showcase your skills and where you have an excuse to meet every couple weeks then volunteering for a committee is great
Working events: Most trade associations have big events from time to time. The format is typically:
An important decision maker from a government agency speaks
There are panels with heavy hitters from industry
Structured networking sessions.
If you are there as an attendee it can be overwhelming and challenging to find an excuse to talk to anybody. However, if you are part of the host committee first you will:
Have free access to the event
An excuse to talk to anyone
Early access to the speakers
Time to network with the other people putting the event together
What to do next
Add to the plan: Add promising associations in FedScout
Follow up:FedScout will provide reminders to research and potentially join promising associations
Rants and Reflections
My unscripted thoughts after coaching hundreds of small government contractors over the last 10 years
As we’ve been saying, the strength of your relationships and your network will have a huge impact on your overall success. And a tried and true method of building relationships is by going to government market events and joining federal vendor associations.
The Project manager has pre-built tasks to find events and associations but we recommend searching for promising associations now and creating tasks for each association that looks promising.
Do a google search for your state and then “federal” and “association”
Look at the list of national associations below
And when you find an interesting group create a new task to research it
We also recommend doing a quick search for government events in your area, which is tricky because there’s no single clearing house, but search for “government events,” look at the resources listed below, and add a monthly reminder to your calendar to check these sites.
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