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The Federal Procurement Center – under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) – has a critical mission to support the 9.7 Million Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) throughout the Nation in gaining access to and succeeding in performing Government contracts.

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What Works for Building Relationships in Government Contracting: The Power of Networking and Establishing Strategic Partnerships

Establishing strong business relationships is key to succeeding in government contracting, especially for minority-owned businesses. Forming partnerships and networking effectively enables businesses to build confidence in their organization’s capacity to gain insights into upcoming contract opportunities more rapidly.  This article provides strategies and best practices for minority business enterprises (MBEs) to build relationships through networking and partnerships to enhance their success in securing government contracts.

Networking Strategies

Networking is about making connections, sharing information, and developing relationships. For MBEs aiming to grow their government contracting business, networking serves several important purposes:

Gain Insights on Contract Opportunities

Attending relevant small business events, trade shows that need your firm’s core competencies, and participating in industry conferences that allow MBEs to learn new strategies, understand public policies, and policies relevance to your 2024 marketing strategy will be critical in the new year.  Connecting with government agencies, prime contractors, and other businesses working in their field, with a defined follow up strategy will be paramount in 2024’s plan to capture and win more government contracts in 2024. These events provide access to helpful insights into upcoming contract solicitations, help to bring greater clarity to Agency priorities, and most of all, attending networking events gives your firm the chance to be recognized. MBEs should not underestimate an annual event planning session with your team. The time spent planning could be the key to your firm’s success in 2024.

Build Relationships and Credibility

Meeting procurement officials, prime contractors, and other MBEs face-to-face enables businesses to form meaningful connections. Sharing capabilities, experience, and expertise allows MBEs to showcase their qualifications. Building rapport and trust with key players in the contracting community lends valuable credibility when opportunities arise.

Identify Teaming Partners

Networking events and industry gatherings allow MBEs to meet potential partner firms. Teaming with other small or disadvantaged businesses allows for collaboration on larger, more complex contracts. Strategic partnerships give MBEs access to complementary capabilities and past performance to make their team more competitive.

Gain Mentorship and Guidance

There is much to learn about successfully competing for government contracts. Connecting with seasoned government contractors, small business liaisons, and advocacy organizations provides an opportunity for MBEs to gain insights and advice from experts. Mentorship relationships help guide new entrants on positioning their business for growth.

Best Practices for Effective Networking

Here are some best practices for MBEs to maximize the value of networking activities:

  • Do your homework. Review the attendee list and agenda for upcoming events. Identify the decision-makers, buyers, and partners you want to meet. Study their roles and needs to prepare informed conversations.
  • Have a clear purpose. Don't just attend events aimlessly. Set networking goals like meeting three new contacts or identifying two potential team partners. Prepare an elevator pitch that explains your capabilities and value proposition, and have a follow up plan.
  • Follow up. Collect contact information for new connections. Follow up within a week to strengthen the relationship. Share useful information and continue the dialogue. Be sure to ask the best time to get back and the best method to use in the follow up.
  • Leverage connections. Ask new contacts to connect you with others in their network. See if they will make warm introductions to key relationships you wish to develop.
  • Bring value. Offer your expertise and assistance to new connections. Share success stories, insights, and advice that provides value. Help others and they will want to help you. Remember, become a What Works Solution Provide to the Government’s greatest challenges.
  • Be proactive. Don't just wait for opportunities to come to you. Reach out to government buyers and prime contractors you want to work with. Initiate relationships and demonstrate your interest.
  • Be patient. Meaningful relationships take time to develop. Follow up regularly and look for ways to engage. Don't get discouraged if connections don't pay off immediately. Patient perseverance involves spending as much time on building out your


Prepare a What Works solution as you are spending time with the the actual follow-up.  There is a timing strategy associated with being patient. If you give time to do your research, then you are mor likely to be ready to provide a solution, so make sure you have a patient and strategic process.

Building Strong Teaming Partnerships

Partnerships play a pivotal role in contracting success for many MBEs. Teaming allows small businesses to complement each other's capabilities and experience to compete for larger, more complex contracts. Building synergistic relationships based on trust and shared goals is key.

Identify Compatible Partners

Look for partners that align with your culture and vision for the future. Assess complementary capabilities that allow you to bid on expanded opportunities. Make sure your values and business approaches mesh well. Successful teams require mutual trust and respect.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Clearly delineate the roles each partner will play in capturing, managing, and executing contracts. Divide responsibilities equitably based on each member's expertise. Outline expectations for resource commitments from each partner.

Formalize the Agreement

Develop a Teaming Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding to formalize the partnership. Address issues like non-compete clauses, proprietary protections, cost-sharing, and joint-pursuit processes. Involve legal counsel to ensure a fair, balanced agreement.

Communicate Openly

Maintain transparent, ongoing communications between partners at the executive and operational levels. Provide visibility into contract performance issues. Discuss opportunities to pursue additional joint projects.

Collaborate on Capture

Partners should collaborate on shaping proposals, contributing past performance examples, and providing capability statements. Jointly develop solutions that allow each member's expertise to shine.

Prepare for Growth

Position the team for future opportunities by cross-training staff, expanding capabilities, and co-marketing services. Continuously improve processes for working seamlessly together.

The Power of Relationships in Government Contracting

Developing a robust network and reliable teaming partners provides a strong foundation for growth.  MBEs who invest time and patience in cultivating the right relationships position themselves for greater success in securing government contracts.  As experienced small business advocates, the MBDA Federal Procurement Center provides invaluable guidance on effectively building relationships and partnerships.

Contact us to learn more about our training, consulting, and other assistance for minority entrepreneurs pursuing federal contracts. Or simply visit www.mbdafpcenter.com to see, if you qualify to become an MBDA Federal Procurement Center client.

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