Relationships rule in the government market

The third R -- relationships -- is just as important in building ties to the government contracting community as research and references, if not moreso.

When you boil it down to its basic elements, there are three R's that are the keys to success in the government market: research, resources and relationships. We’ve dealt with research and resources in two previous articles. So let’s look at the third R, relationships.

Relationships play a big role in each of my three books: Government Marketing Best Practices (the first line of which is: “This market, any market, is about relationships); Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes (about the professional relationships I have developed over the past 30 years); and Selling to the Government (Chapter 6, the Power of Relationships). Why this importance?

Much of the alleged insider activity referenced by those not in the government contracting community often stems from the frustration of not being part of the insider group. It’s not that the group is closed to those outside it, but rather that it takes time to gain entry into the insider community. First of all, you’ve got to pay your dues before those relationships can begin. Every market has an insider group, and most do not restrict membership once you’ve paid your dues.

Paying dues is participating in a group by volunteering, being active, joining in discussions and more. In other words, you must add value on a regular basis. The more value you add, the more attractive you become to those you need to influence.

There are a variety of relationships you must cultivate to succeed in this market: relationships with the government personnel you want to do business with; peer-to-peer relationships; prime contractors with sub-contractors and vice versa; with the channel (VARs and other resellers); C-level to employee, and vice versa; manufacturer to distributor/reseller and vice versa; company to media; and so on.

Without these relationships we have an incomplete picture of the contracting landscape, and you will not be able to maximize your impact in the market. While you might not need every one of the above relationships, each of us does need several of them.

Developing the right relationships means finding the venues, live and online, where you can demonstrate the value you bring to your market niche. No one simply joins a group and immediately assumes some level of recognition. Joining is step one.

Person-to-person networking venues include the major trade associations such as AFCEA, TechAmerica, ACT/IAC, American Small Business Coaltion, Small and Emerging Contractors Advisory Forum, and Professional Services Council. There are many others, and some of them are more narrowly focused, so select carefully. Participate when you find the right group.

Any reader of my columns will know what’s next: the online venues. The major online venue is LinkedIn, where most major contractors have a strong presence. All of Washington Technology’s Top 100 IT government contractors are on LinkedIn, and so are many of the Fast 50. There is also a rapidly growing population of federal managers and executives on LinkedIn.

There are over 6,700 groups on LinkedIn that deal with some facet of government. And as of mid-October, there were more than 1.9 million groups on the site covering just about every technological niche imaginable.

But joining these groups carries the same caveat as joining associations: you must participate to be perceived as a player. The more you participate the more likely it is that you will be building a viable network of key connections and relationships you need to succeed in the government market.

It’s important to remember that anyone and any company can build the relationships necessary to succeed in the government market. But for many the real desire to do so is lacking. Relationships remain critical, so if someone is complaining to you about how difficult it is to break into the government market, that’s probably someone you don’t need to have a relationship with.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.