LinkedIn as a Networking Tool for Federal ContractorsPosted: October 23, 2013
Eileen Kent has shared her ideas as a guest author on this site multiple times. Recently she turned the tables and interviewed me for her Federal Sales Sherpa Show on Blog Talk Radio.
You can listen to the full interview at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/linkedlocalnetwork/2013/10/15/federal-sales-sherpa-show, and I’m also going to share two of the topics we discussed as two separate blog posts.
Eileen: You also use LinkedIn a lot for networking. Any thoughts or ideas about LinkedIn?
Bill: Yes. First of all, we use LinkedIn a lot for the blogging side. Social media is the new wave. And while I’m by no means a young person walking around with my iPhone or something, I’m certainly attuned to the whole phenomenon. And LinkedIn has groups, so I post teasers for my blog posts, the same things that I use on Twitter, and all of those things go out to whom I affectionately call my 4,000 closest friends.
LinkedIn is a place where I can keep up with folks. I mean, what I love about it is, I don’t have to worry about whether they’ve change jobs. LinkedIn tells me. I don’t have to worry about whether they’ve changed email addresses or anything like that. They’re all in the same place. And when I want to go look for Harry or Sally Smith who I met three or four years ago and now I want to figure out whether that’s a good teaming partner or a good prime for me, I know right where to go.
Eileen: I also find that the Feds are starting to use LinkedIn too. Have you noticed that?
Bill: I have. It’s interesting you say that because just recently I was going through a list of suggested people to connect up with and I noticed that there were a large number of actual decision makers. Now, I specifically have a policy of only attempting to link with someone that I actually know. But I have to tell you, I was tempted to link in with a number of the people whom I didn’t know personally, but I knew their position, or I knew their agency, or had some connection to it.
Eileen: Surprisingly enough, they’re sending me connections. Have you found the same thing?
Bill: Yep, and I think that’s because they recognize that they need the industry partnership relationship as much as we need the industry partner relationships, as well. We need them, they need us.
Eileen: So what is your advice to the newbie about selling to the Feds and using LinkedIn?
Bill: Well, the first thing I’d do is connect up in LinkedIn and make sure I was on the groups that met up with my particular industry, organization or whatever I’m doing. If you’re selling cyber security, then you need to be on the cyber security groups. If you’re selling construction, then you need to be on the facilities management groups and so forth.
Then I’d start looking for the people who offer help, ranging from people like you, the Sales Sherpa, to the procurement technical assistance centres (PTACs), small business offices, all the folks that are there to help and that there’s quite a bit of basic free resources available to get you connected.
The PTACs are an amazing resource that is untapped. All they want to do is help you get that first piece of business in the door so that they can put it down on their lists and say, “Wow, I did that!”
Also check out organizations like National Contract Management Association (they’re also on LinkedIn), where you can attend conferences (live or sometimes by webinar) and hear government officials talk about how procurement works.
Thanks for a great discussion, Eileen!
Check out the recording at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/linkedlocalnetwork/2013/10/15/federal-sales-sherpa-show and watch for the next post where we talk about getting paid by the government.