6 ways to connect with the Top 100

Simple rules that will help you find prime contracting partners

Every year Washington Technology’s Top 100 federal contractors list is one of the most anticipated stories, and it becomes a regular hot spot for visitors at the WT web site. A major reason is companies looking for opportunities in the business-to-government market want to build and leverage relationships with the biggest contract holders.

The problem is how do they go about this? What does it take for you to reach out to and connect with key people at a Top 100 contractor? Here is your initial “to do” list.

Rule One: Have a reason to reach out. Do you know if the company you are targeting has a contract that would make your skills a tight fit? Always keep in mind that because such companies are high on the contractual food chain, they are constantly being approached by companies that want to sub-contract with them, often for the wrong reasons. So, don’t just reach out to connect because they are on the list. Know where you have a “fit” with the prime.

Rule Two: Mark off your area of expertise narrowly and make certain all of your Web activity defines and reinforces that expertise. This includes your Web site, blog, LinkedIn profiles and all other online activity.

Rule Three: Have a one-page statement of capabilities. It should include company name, key officials with contact information, a brief description of your area(s) of expertise (be specific, use only facts and avoid adjectives), your NAICS codes, special item numbers (SINs), any current contracts (GSA Schedule, etc), past contracts, agencies with which you have relationships, and other pertinent information. Keep it to one page, and you can use the front and back.

Rule Four: Many of the larger contractors have small-business outreach offices. General Dynamics IT, for example, has such an office and you can always find company officials at various small-business outreach events such as the annual Offices of Small, Disadvantaged Business Utilization conference. Before you approach them, remember rule one applies. Showing up and announcing your small business status guarantees you a short, unproductive meeting. Define your technical capability and know where it could fit.

Rule Five: Look up key players online. LinkedIn is a great place for identifying them within the Top 100. Using the “company search” function on LinkedIn, you can find the key contacts and see how many degrees they are away from you. Moreover, there are several things you can do once you are on the site: “follow the company” will alert you when officials at the company are active on LinkedIn; “”save the profile” of the individual you wish to connect with (this adds the profile to your list of saved profiles and makes finding them again easier until they are connected directly with you); or reach out through a connection to connect directly. Most, if not all, 2010 Top 100 firms are on LinkedIn as were those on the 2009 list.

Rule Six: Network where the major contractors network. Look for face-to-face venues such as the networking functions hosted by ACT/IAC (Industry Advisory Council), AFCEA, Professional Services Council, TechAmerica, APMP, the trade publications and more. Look at the profiles of those you want to connect with to get an idea of where they network. Like all of us, their time will be limited and they will be selective about where they spend that time.

Each of these rules is part of the process but this is by no means a comprehensive list. Think of other things you can and should be doing too.


About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

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