Allen Federal requires our small contract specialists to relate three things they learn every day.  Consistent acquisition of new knowledge is important, whether you want to excel academically, or in government business.  Here are three things we learned recently that are worth passing on.

1.  Process is important, but relationships are paramount:  We recently sat in on a discussion with former federal procurement executives whose collective knowledge of acquisition rules would make your head explode.  While the discussion started on the need to reform processes, it quickly turned to character, relationships, and communication.  The message is clear:  process knowledge should be a given.  The real key to federal success is your ability to connect with potential customers.

2.  Your commercial reputation may not help you federally, but it can hurt you:  Yes, life is not fair.  If you haven’t established a federal reputation, sales will be harder to come by until you do.  Conversely, if your company was the feature of a negative national news story, even if it had nothing to do with your federal division, you may have an additional hurdle to overcome.

3.  People leave or retire, make sure you have more than one POC with each customer:  Your great customer of today may be gone next week due to retirement, promotion, or transition.  If they were the only one who knew how great you are, you may lose that customer or have to start a new relationship from scratch.  Take it from someone who spent 20 years in a membership association:  Always take the time to get to know multiple people in each customer organization.