Thursday, January 22, 2009

Go Hug Your Banker.


How often should you visit your banker? A quick Google search found almost nothing on "visit" and "banker," though I did get a DIGG hit on a shark attacking a banker in Australia...

Financing is vital to staying alive today -- especially in government contracts. Get your ducks in a row, now. And make your next visit before you need to.

I just went in to wish my banker a happy new year and bring her up to date on my business as I made my first deposit of 2009 (thank you, GEAR Engineering!). Good news -- I had the best year ever in 2008...but I also really needed my line of credit as 2009 gets started, and needed her support to refresh that.

Boy, was I glad I had just stopped in to say hello last fall to introduce myself. She knew who I was and remembered my business, and was happy to help. I also found out she's going to have her first baby this spring -- which means I also want to be sure I find out who's backing her up while she's away.

Just like with government business development (or even advocacy on Capitol Hill) -- the time to make your first call is when things are going well. Then people know who they're dealing with when you come in and ask for help.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Take Five: PR Tips You Can Use Right Now

More 2009 Jumpstart Tools for Government Contracts

Which of these tips are you going to use first? Leave comment, or Let me know!

Why PR Activity is Critical:
Visibility can open the door to relationships you need.
And in tough times, when many people market less, those who market more STAND OUT!
  1. Create A PR Plan For Your Government Market Niche!
    Short on resources? Try Guerilla PR by Jill Lublin...
    - Barter your services with a PR firm, if you're short of cash
    - Hire interns for press release writing and tracking

  2. Write Op-Ed's & Letters To The Editor -- Especially If You're A Woman Business Owner
    - Focus on issues you care about
    - Watch the publication's style, and keep it short
    - Use Google Alerts to identify reporters who are writing about your issues
    - Contact them and establish yourself as an expert source

  3. Plan To Use Online News Releases
    - Learn how to write news releases reporters will love

  4. Review Your Web Site, Including Your Online Newsroom
    - Learn how to make it reporter-friendly

  5. Make Google Work For You
    - Explore whether Google Adwords work for you
    - Consider using second- or third- tier ranked keywords
    - Set Google Alerts for your name, your company's name, your competitors

  6. Apply For Awards
    - Gain Credibility & Visibility
    - Boost Employee Morale
    - Create publicity / news release opportunity

  7. Supercharge Your Email Signature Line
    - Add photo & tagline
    - Link to your social media profiles, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, ZoomInfo
    - Link to your blog...and change the message every week
    (e.g. "What's 2009's Must-Have Service? Find out this week on MY BLOG....)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Can't We Get Past The Basics?

"Successful Small Business Suppliers to DHS Do Four Things..."

I've heard the DHS briefing for small business several times. And the core message is always the same.

According to Kevin Boshears, Director of the DHS Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, in the briefing he and his team give all year long, the keys are:
  • do your homework
  • selectively participate in networking
  • understand the procurement system
  • understand the concept of teaming
Yeah, these points are important...but how could you possibly be selling to the government and not already know this?

Do we keep getting this presentation because so many people still don't get it?

Or are we just so hungry for DHS business that we're going to show up no matter WHAT the briefer has to say?

(One way to get beyond that right now: I've got a paper, Five People You Need To Meet, that is jammed with practical tips on how to meet effectively with people who can help you do all of these things. Check it out...)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Take Five: ConnectionTips You Can Use Right Now

Supercharge Your Networking.

I love the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). My Greater DC Chapter is profoundly focused on giving members tools for business growth. At our most recent session, "Thriving In A Difficult Economy," panelist Joyce Bosc, President of Boscobel Communications, took a page out of her own book by being generous and helpful to all of us.

Her tips inspired my next two sets of "Take Five" -- the first, for building the connections essential to new business:

  • Network, Network, Network.
    Attend conferences, meetings, trade shows, events, receptions, galas; look for people you don't know, rather than hang with people you do; seek groups of prospects more than peers; be helpful and generous -- that comes back to you ten times over!

  • Use Social Networks / Web 2.0
    Top picks: LinkedIn (more formal); Facebook (more personal/social); Plaxo (favorite with big corporate America); ZoomInfo (find prospects and be found)... This stuff is real. Feel confused, frustrated, and most of all want to know when you've got time for all this? People who pay attention in just one session with Jen Abernethy, America's First Sales Stylist, generate qualified leads within seven days.

  • Seek Speaking Opportunities
    In Workshops, Panels, Community Chambers/Business Groups...
    Position yourself as a thought leader. Research conferences your prospects will attend; if the program is set, offer to be a backup speaker. Increase visibility, send press releases about your gig.

  • Start a Corporate Social Responsibility Program
    Tough times mean more people need help. Pitch in. Increase visibility. Boost employee morale. Create press release opportunity. Show your character and values and attract like-minded allies who can help you and vice versa.

  • Look for Low-Cost Sponsorships
    In recessions, many people slow or stop marketing...which means you stand out more when you do. Consider: Bronze-level sponsorships; ask about opportunities for small business; barter your services for sponsorships; increase your organic search engine ranking as a result of greater links you generate from your sponsorships.