The "why" is obvious. Contracting Officers have a power that the President of the United States does not: the legal ability to bind a company to the federal government in a contract to provide goods or services. They need to know you, like you, trust you, and know how to get to you.
Contracting Officers need to start those conversations long before requirements get published. If you don’t already know someone in the account, how DO you find them?
Here's the where and how: Four places to look for the contracting officers who need to know you, and what to do next.
1. FedBizOpps (www.FBO.gov): Instead of (or in addition to) cruising for “opportunities” to bid to people you’ve never met, look differently. At the bottom of every solicitation or competition-related notice, there’s a point of contact, including a name, title, phone number, and, if you mouse over the person’s name, an email address.
The contract notice tells you what they bought – that time. By searching on and reading multiple notice from your target agency, you can start to develop your prospects to call. There’s low odds that they’re going to buy from you if they haven’t heard of you. These are the people you need to get to know for next time(s)!
2. Federal Procurement Data System (www.FPDS.gov). Search for which federal agencies buy what you do. Then sort the transactions by date. Most records of individual buying transactions include a “Created by” and “Modified by.” If that person isn’t your contracting officer, then she’s probably sitting awfully close to the person who is. The email address often includes a full name and usable email address. In other cases, you can easily derive an email address or enough intelligence so that you can search for that person in another source, from Google to agency staff directories. Speaking of which…
3. Agency staff directories: no two are alike, and some are more helpful than others. Health and Human Services, and the General Services Administration, are two of best. You can search on multiple fields, including key words and job titles; the search results often include organizational details as well as basic contact data. In others, you have to do more detective work. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration (VHA), is a great example. The bad news is that there’s no comprehensive directly. The good news is that the web sites for each VA medical center are organized the same way. You’ll have to comb through the departments, but you do get a phone number that’s a great starting point if you know what to say and what to ask. HINT: people want to be helpful. Ask for help.
4. LinkedIn: 1.5 million federal employees are on Linked in. That includes the 10,197 who had the job title “Contracting Officer” or “Contracting Specialist” in their profile. They’re not all your buyers…but some of them probably are. Got a partial name from FPDS? Try searching for that person here.
So, let’s say you’ve done all that and got a list of people who need to know you. Now what?
“I don’t know what to say” – and the fear of failure and rejection – are some of the biggest barriers to success. Don’t let that get in your way.
If you don’t know what to do next, then let’s talk.
Judy Bradt gives you the analysis, custom plans and support you need to grow your federal business. Call me at (703) 627 1074, and visit www.SummitInsight.com. Ready to act? Ask about my Decision-Maker Scholarship for “Lightning Launch.”