Many government contracting professionals operate at arm’s length so they can remain unbiased and avoid the appearance of impropriety. But building relationships is critical to securing government business, especially on smaller-dollar purchases that don’t require public bidding. Face-to-face meetings are the perfect way to establish a relationship with an agency.
How do you get a face-to-face meeting? Start by contacting the agency’s purchasing or small business office and asking for one.
You also can try to find out what events agency officials will be attending and meet them there. The government is hugely proactive in hosting events specifically to meet potential contractors. A few great ways to find events are the following:
- Follow the agency on social media and join groups.
- Check www.FBO.gov and www.GovEvents.com.
- Read CIRAS’ weekly Did You Know? newsletter for upcoming events in your area.
Once you get a meeting, do your research! You don’t want to waste valuable time asking about information that is posted on their website. Look for past, present, and future opportunities to discuss with them by researching procurement forecasts, currently posted solicitations, and expiring contracts.
It also is crucial to understand the agency and be prepared to show how your products/services help that agency accomplish its mission better than your competitors’ offerings. Know what you can help them solve, and articulate that in your capability statement.
Many times, the person you are meeting with is not an expert in your line of business. Be willing to educate them on trends, new technologies, challenges, or processes in your industry. This will help establish you as an expert.
Finally, you’ll want to ask if there is anyone else you should speak with about your products or services. (Typically, procurement is done by a team of people.) And don’t forget to thank them for their time and ask for an opportunity to work with that agency on a future project.