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Leadership Connect kicked off the year with a webinar on January 18 focused on all things relationship-building and networking in federal contracting.  

The expert panel included:  

  • Brian McManus, Strategic Account Lead for the DoD, Amazon Business  
  • Catharine Rozema, Director and Account Executive, AT&T  
  • Naitik Vyas, Director of Federal Sales, OPEXUS  
  • Michael Crosby, CEO, Leadership Connect  

Read their take-aways below or watch the rebroadcast here. 

Building Credibility 

  • Research, research, research. Do your research to see where your target went to school, where they grew up, how long they’ve been in their role, and anything else that could come up in conversation. Knowledge and understanding will lead to credibility. 
  • “Listen two times more than you speak,” Catharine told the audience. When you ask questions, listen, and learn, you’ll prove that you care about their problems and that you are focused on solutions rather than selling.  
  • “Time is a finite resource.” Naitik kept his advice short and sweet – don’t waste their time. Always remember that the people you meet are granting you their valuable time, and they’ll remember and appreciate it if you use it efficiently. 


Leadership Connect helps you understand org structure, current vendors, bios, and connections. 

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First Impressions 

Don’t let the first call be the last call. 

  • Positivity sells. Keep the energy up! Make your meetings engaging and light to make a lasting impression. 
  • Dialogue vs. Monologue. Catharine advised listeners to focus on meeting instead of marketing. Hold off on your sales speech and focus on conversing and learning first. 
  • Set an agenda. By sending a planned agenda prior to the meeting, you can set expectations and ensure that you’re using your time wisely. Volunteer to take meeting notes and send them afterwards to make their lives easier and demonstrate that you can be their solution.  
  • Keep the ball rolling. Use the call to build momentum toward a close or another meeting. If you need to schedule another meeting, do it on the call while you already have their attention. 

Educating on Best Practices and Corrections 

  • Research, research, research…again. Know who you’re talking to so you can understand any preconceived notions they’ve been exposed to from previous roles or personal experiences. Familiarize yourself with their previous contracts to understand their approaches and processes to meet them where they are at. 
  • Trust goes a long way. Who would take corrections and want to learn from someone they don’t know or trust? Not too many people according to the panelists. Take the long-game approach and work to make sure they know you are a trust partner with their best interests in mind. 
  • Lean on your network. You have so many connections, why not use them? If you realize someone is relying on incorrect knowledge, find someone in your network that can relate to them and have them try to educate for you.  

Meeting Prep 

  • Avoid the death by PowerPoint. Slides are not everything! They should be a guideline that helps you, but if you’re starting to lose your audience, ditch the slides and try another approach. 
  • Confidence is key. You are the solution, so act like it. Gain your confidence by practice and role playing with coworkers before your meeting so you’re ready for anything. 

Keeping in Touch 

  • Provide value. You can’t just ask your network for favors without doing anything in return. If you routinely check in on both professional and personal updates with a warm message to offer your expertise, your connections are more likely to keep you in mind for future contracts or to advocate for you.  
  • Everyone is important. You never know where people will end up in their careers. When you go to a meeting, extend the same regards that you would to leadership teams to their secretaries and interns. In a few years, those people could have risen in ranks and make the important decisions now. If you treated them with respect and importance early in their career, you’ll make a lasting impression that could serve you well in years to come. 
  • Get out there! Leave the office and attend networking events to see what’s out there and learn more from the people you meet. Naitik emphasized the rule of four – attend at least four networking events because by the time you’re at the fourth one, attendees will recognize you and will appreciate your consistency in showing up, opening the door for a meaningful relationship. 
  • Practice, practice, practice. Brian left us with this final thought. Networking is a craft and a skill just like anything else. You can never know everything there is to know about it, so never stop practicing. Make reaching out and maintaining relationships a priority and don’t get discouraged along the way. 


Leadership Connect tells you when key contacts change, where they go, who they know, and who they have worked with. 

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Annie Farrell

Digital Content Writer