Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confessions Of A Networking Addict

Next on this Week's Theme: Quality of Human Connection

I just hit the wall ...again.

I had out-networked myself. I was exhausted. I'd signed up for one too many events. Even though it was too late to get a refund, I blew off the $45 registration fee I'd paid for that final Friday lunch.

Why?

I didn't want to be literally a card-carrying zombie, trading pieces of paper with people. I had no ability to be fully present with any other human being. I was in no shape -- mentally, energetically, spiritually, or even physically -- to be meeting anyone. And I was certainly incapable of making a friend of someone new or being a friend to anyone I knew.

I went home instead.


Back in 1974, my mom made me a beautiful campfire blanket. It's a big navy blue wool felt poncho lined with warm plaid plush, half covered with my Girl Guide badges, and half decked out with dozens of camp patches I traded from troops and groups all over North America.

I pulled it out recently and was suddenly shocked to realize how many years I had "networked" -- well over three decades -- but missed the best part. If I had been paying attention, that blanket might represent a universe of vibrant friendships. I took a long time to learn the lesson.

And I still have to practice.

Sure, I ask myself, "Where does business comes from if not from being out there marketing?"
But how can anything positive develop from wandering around like a zombie?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take Five -- Your 2009 Business Boost: Government Contracts?

Five Ways To Tell!

America evidently wants change -- and that could mean business for you, as post-election giddiness has faded fast to focus government leaders on the pile of urgent priorities.

Good news: you don’t have to be a corporate giant to win government contracts. If you run a healthy business and are already selling successfully, government buyers could represent an untapped market. Imagine finding new clients in places your competitors aren’t even looking! If reliable new customers are important to you, a small investment in learning how US government buys can bring you new business.

Pursuing those opportunities could bring your company long term growth...or waste valuable corporate resources. Five tips suggest whether you’re ready to take on the world’s biggest buyer.

  1. Strong Performance Today & Determination For Tomorrow.
    Successful suppliers realize the investment they’ll need to make in order to pursue, win, and perform government business. You never hear them say, “Sure, we’d open an office and expand if we won a big contract. Government customers want reliable suppliers with established track records Some contracts explicitly require vendors to show a couple years’ commercial track record in order to be considered.

  2. A Unique Value Proposition – for Government.
    Successful vendors have researched exactly which government buyers benefit most from what they offer, and craft their marketing campaign precisely to reach those buyers. They create online content and literature to focus on issues and challenges that government buyers face. They can articulate in the buyers’ language how their offering stands apart from the alternative options the buyers have.

  3. Relationship Mastery.
    Successful vendors know that when you sell to government, you’re not selling to a process or an order machine. Government buyers do business with people they know and like and trust, people who understand their needs exquisitely well – even when they have to follow complicated rules to do that. Winners have genuine passion for helping their clients solve problems. They build their own formal networks, like creating a corporate board of advisers that includes former government employees. They are active contributors to industry networks. And they are alert to the casual perfect connection that a friend or neighbor can bring.

  4. Focus on the Details.
    While relationships are essential to attract the business, governments operate under complex rules that vendors must know. Companies who hold government contracts – whether as a prime contractor or a subcontractor – must be aware of and comply with dozens of precise requirements. Non-compliance can bring instant death to a proposal you spent thousands of dollars and weeks of time to prepare. Government contracts carry legal obligations that can include workplace regulations and contract administration as well as product specifications or service performance standards.

  5. Get Some Know-Who, not Just Know-How!
    Spend smart, but don't skimp. Winners seek top insider connections and know the value of specialized help. Successful contractors engage experts and invest in market research to develop cost-effective government marketing strategies. They’re visiting the perfect prospects – and shaping requirements -- long before contract notices are posted online. They know how they’re superior to their competitors in every way. They shop around and check references to hire the best insider experts they can: people who can help them target the best opportunities, connect them with the right partners and buyers, and plan for critical marketing activities and expenses.
Jump start your research with an instant webinar -- see www.summitinsight.com/video.asp.

Find out more! Contact Judy Bradt at (703) 627 1074.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Take Five: Information Experts' Insider Tips

Five Keys to Multi-Million Dollar Success

Meet Marissa Levin,CEO of Information Experts in Virginia, award-winning provider of strategic communications services since 1995. Her company's flagship government contract, with the Office of Personnel Management, is worth over $6 million.
  • Tough Times Spurred Federal Pursuit: "After 9/11 we nearly went out of business," she said. "So we turned to the business in our own backyard," and started to pursue government contracts.

  • First Contract: Was surprisingly fast: "We were invited to 2 EPA task order competitions for creative work...because we had strong commercial experience." EPA was also looking for qualified 8(a) companies. But steady profit required time and money.

  • Market Entry Investment: Nearly 2 years and well over $200,000. On what? "We got on several GSA Schedules; built strong partnerships with large integrators; did a lot of marketing, including to many 8(a) shows produced by FBC and ones sponsored by the agencies."

  • Key To The $6 Million Contract: Relationships. "The relationships I formed, and the due diligence I did to get to know them and demonstrate our capabilities, and the research I did with the draft RFP’s, did a tremendous amount to develop the level of comfort and trust that the Office of Personnel Management had with us."

  • Biggest Challenge: Financing. "From the day you win, you have to start executing! But you then have to bankroll your employees for 60 to 90 days," before you might get your first payment. Without financing, that large contract could put you out of business! "My living room had no furniture in it, but I had this contract!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SAIC Teaming Do's and Don'ts From Michael Parker

Insider Teaming Tips From Science Applications International Corporation
videoMichael Parker is Senior Business Unit Strategist for SAIC, a top federal contractor that's always looking for qualified small business partners. I asked him what his top three tips were for companies seeking partnerships. He said:
  • Research SAIC, and find out what part of the company you want to do business with
  • Come with a specific opportunity in mind
  • Present a business case on how you can contribute to winning that specific opportunity.
What do you think the absolute worst things are you could do when approaching SAIC?

He recommended starting by registering on SAIC's small business portal, and taking advantage of the access points of contact there.

But in real life, how easy is it to get in the door? Got a happy story, or a horror show? Tell all. I've been reporting what the primes say...what's the most effective thing you've done to actually become a teaming partner with these guys?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Take Five: State & Local Success for Human Resource Services

Patty's De Dominic's Top Five Government Contracting Tips

Can you supply staffing services to state and local governments?

Patty De Dominic thinks so. Serving those clients built her staffing services company to over $200 million, to become the tenth-largest employer in California. She sold her multi-million dollar business after the LA Business Journal named her, in 2006, the CEO of the Year.

I asked her, "What advice would you give someone who wants to win government contracts?" She said,
  • Make sure you have a good product or service to offer.
  • Look for ways to differential yourself in an arena that the buyer already knows they need then prove your worth.
  • Empower the people who give your organization the strength and depth it needs to serve big and demanding clients well.
  • Under promise and over deliver.
  • Develop time management skills, so you can prioritize and do the most important things first.
Patty shares more of her lessons learned at SummitInsight.com.

Her next project is a book, and she invites your stories via her blog at http://www.thenewnewworldofwork.com/. Check it out and get yourself some visibility in her book.

She also coaches high achievers at DeDominic & Associates, http://www.dedominic.com/. Capitalize on her 27 years of experience; she's eager to share what she knows. The first coaching session free. Contact Patty via Patty@dedominic.com.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav: When A Storm Means Business

Disaster Response Contracting Tips

Hurricane Gustav is poised to create a serious natural disaster that will generate huge urgent needs for supplies and services, both immediately and in the weeks and months that follow.

Who is going to win that business to help, where, and how?

I'm in business to to help qualified vendors, even those without experience, connect faster with suppliers who need you. So here are THREE FREE RESOURCES to help you do that right now:
  1. 2008 Disaster Response Tips: Ready for Hurricane Gustav -- New White Paper
  2. Be A Top DisasterResponse Contractor -- Competitive Intelligence from Hurricane Katrina
  3. Success Stories: Supplying Emergency Shelter and Meals
*********************************************************************************
Here are the details:
  1. Save hours of time!Get tips on Hurricane Gustav disaster response contracting by downloading this five-page summary from http://www.summitinsight.com/blogviewd.asp?id=96. Includes:
  • Links to Disaster Response Action/Status reports
  • Where disaster relief centers are being set up
  • Which government agencies are doing what
  • Supplier Registration sites
  • Success Tips

2. "Be A Top Disaster Response Contractor: Version 3.0" , updated from 2005, is jammed with competitive information you want to know. You'll find out:
  • Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina Response in 2005. Emergency supply needs and major prime contractors will be similar this time!
  • Top disaster response contractors in 2005 -- those winners may become big suppliers now.
  • Vendor keys to success from the Hurricane Katrina response in 2005
  • What products and services buyers needed after Hurricane Katrina, and how much
3. Success Stories: Supplying Emergency Shelter and Meals: Keys to success from interviews with two companies , first-time suppliers, who won disaster response contracts worth millions in 2005.

In short,
you have a good chance to meet these urgent needs if you already have:

  • A current government contract vehicle that someone can buy from RIGHT NOW,

  • Contacts within federal, state, local and NGO agencies with responsibility for disaster response,

  • Recent communication with people making supplier decisions to meet disaster response needs,

  • Current information about the emergency management and buying process in the disaster area;



  • If not...find out what you need to know HERE.

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Lockheed Martin Tips For Small Business

    Lockheed Martin is looking for good small business partners, too.

    Here's 90 seconds of wisdom from Ken Hildebrand, Supplier Diversity Manager at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia.

    You'll find out:
    • What kind of "homework" small businesses need to do when approaching Lockheed Martin
    • How to improve your marketing materials and why
    • And a final key to success!
      video

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Financing Your Government Contract

    Marissa Levin, CEO, Information Experts Tells How SHE Did It...

    You may be surprised!


    video

    Teaming Tips: Diane Marsden, BoozAllenHamilton

    Here's what Booz Allen Hamilton does want to see from small businesses proposing partnership.

    HINT: Being a veteran-owned small business, or a small disadvantaged business, or any kind of small business, isn't a capability. It's a differentiator...and not a particularly strong one at that.
    video
    To sum up: Come with

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Know Before You Go / No-Go

    O'er Beautiful, Gracious Skies...Comes Big Perspective.

    Last month, I got a stark reminder of why I encourage my clients to set criteria for key go / no-go decisions like whether to bid an opportunity, or whether to pursue government contracts at all. Decisions like that can make or break your business.

    That perspective came from my ten days as pilot of a small airplane across America from Portland over the Rockies and back to Washington DC. Each day began with a serious go / no-go decision: "Is this weather safe enough to put myself into the air today?"

    Everything else kinda pales by comparison (see the whole story -- I was the official blogger for our group of six travelers in 3 planes). We were pilots on an adventure, but often felt the pressure of resources -- mostly time -- running low. A poor decision would have been literally a matter of life and death.

    My business brain noticed that our group's daily "go / no-go" was often fraught with tension. Some mornings we spent HOURS poring over weather data...so as not to have rain pouring over us. The whole process -- critical though it was -- could have been more productive and left us more time to enjoy the inevitable delays. How? If we'd agreed on a decision-making process and "go" criteria among pilots with quite different risk thresholds.


    When you're ready for your next government contract adventure...I'm here to help you find the right time to launch in conditions that match your skills and risk threshold, get to your destination safely...and enjoy the ride, too.

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Take Five: The 5 People You Need to Meet

    Helping Hands That Open Federal Contracting Doors

    Once you've figured out which departments and agencies might be your buyers (oh, not sure about that? Start by cruising http://www.usa.gov/), you need to get ready to meet the people who can help you.

    The five people you need to know when you want to win government contracts affect what doors you can get through, how they can buy from you, who introduces you (which affects how much initial credibility you have), why they try you, and when they want you.

    The Five People You Need To Know

    • The Small Business Specialist (at the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization -- OSDBU)
    • The Contracting Officer
    • The Program Manager
    • The Influencer
    • The End User

    The better you prepare -- know what they care about, and what they can do for you -- the more they're likely to help you. Will planned procurements happen? Will they be set-aside for small business? What are new requirements likely to be? When are pre-proposal conferences?

    Companies that sell to government – certainly in the United States – master more than process to succeed. Their sales depend on how well they know the people who make and influence the contract process. They never forget that they’re not selling to a process. They’re selling to people: people whose jobs depend, and are often buying for people whose lives depend, on choosing the best vendor who meets the requirement.

    Who are these people? What doors do they guard? What do they care about, and what is the key that will open their doors to you?

    Download a free short article now!

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Take Five: Executive Coaching Success Tips


    Field Notes from Top Businesswoman in Government Contracts

    Congratulations to Marilyn Edelson of OnTrack Coaching -- she just won her first government contract! She provides executive coaching, especially for top IT professionals.

    I asked how she did it, and she was glad to share these keys to success!

    Marilyn admires her government clients, and is proud to help them. "These are real people who work incredibly long hours, doing yeoman's work for our government-- that is, for us! I am amazed at their diligence and dedication, and communicating that genuine admiration never hurts in winning business!"

    1. Define the Signs
    What are symptoms of the problem you solve?
    "A re-organization or turnover in key personnel -- especially if the position would be vacant for a while -- usually suggests the organization will be struggling with the kind of issues we're really good at easing such as change management."

    2. Research for the Need!
    Marilyn constantly scans industry news for people with those symptoms.
    "Sure enough, we noticed a government agency that had that kind of change. Then we researched the specific challenges they were facing."

    3. Know Who You Know
    How strong is your database? Among your current and past clients, personal and business contacts, is probably someone who can open a door to the person you need to meet.
    "My business partner had done a contract for someone else in that agency. He made the introduction and set up the meeting. The trusted relationship and track record gave us a hearing...but we had to be prepared and offer the specific value they needed at that time."

    4. Offer Something Easy To Try.
    Know the purchasing thresholds and offer some small-scale options for people to try you out. "When they had a group of senior decision-makers at the first meeting, we knew we'd identified a need, and we were ready with ideas. I told them about an analysis tool we could use, and they were thrilled. We also let them know we could offer our services as a 'pilot' project which lowered their risk."

    5. Nurture the Right Relationships
    ...to Move the Contract Forward Once Agreement Has Been Reached
    "We knew they were serious but were fortunate enough to work with a Contracting Officer who moved our contract forward with lightening speed. I grew to have a genuine liking for this person as well as for the executive who sponsored us.

    Friday, May 02, 2008

    Take Five! The 5 People You Need to Know

    Helping Hands That Open Federal Contracting Doors

    Once you've figured out which departments and agencies might be your buyers (oh, not sure about that? Start by cruising http://www.usa.gov/), you need to get ready to meet the people who can help you:

    • The OSDBU Officer
    • The Contracting Officer
    • The Program Manager
    • The End User
    • The Prime
    The better you prepare -- know what they care about, and what they can do for you -- the more they're likely to help you. Will planned procurements happen? Will they be set-aside for small business? What are new requirements likely to be? When are pre-proposal conferences?

    Find out more -- download the newest free presentation, The Five People You Need To Meet, in the series "Take Five : Government Contracts Made Easier".

    Monday, April 28, 2008

    IBM Gives Up Its Secrets

    Get your head out of your GSA Schedule and start looking at the big picture!

    Lillian Magero, Small Business Liaison Officer at IBM, tells small businesses the best ways to open the door to partnerships for with her company for business with the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Federal aviation Administration, USAID, Justice, and agencies with National Security needs. This top systems integrator often teams with small businesses who take a LEAD role and IBM subcontracts to THEM! Lillian tells what she means about "doing your homework" before a teaming meeting.

    video

    Expansion-Minded CSC Seeks Partners

    Chireda Gaither of Computer Sciences Corporation, Manager, Supplier Diversity Program for North American Public Sector, at the recent OSDBU Conference, gave Judy Bradt the top three DO's -- and top three DON'Ts -- for small business partners to prepare for teaming meetings!
    video
    What are they looking for? New business, of course. How can you help? CSC's growth plan for the government sector includes in health services (especially at the state and local level), simulation and training, logistics, command and control, infrastructure services and identity management credentialling.

    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    BAE Systems: Advises Slip-ups You Can Avoid

    John Johnson, BAE Supplier Diversity Manager...
    ...at the OSDBU show, tells Judy Bradt the top misunderstandings he sees small businesses have about teaming. Watch, and now you can avoid these common errors!


    video

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    Announcing: Take Five!

    Selling to Government: Made Easy.

    It's here! The first in my new series, "Take Five" --

    A handful of tips
    that give you a grip
    on the critical things
    that can make you trip


    when you want to win government sales!

    The first topic: National Guard & '09 Business...

    Next Topics...driven by YOU! Tell me your top questions...and I'll answer them.

    You'll find the free highlights on this blog -- and details on my Solutions Download -- in pdf and, coming soon, podcast.