Amtower: Relationships are crucial

The federal IT market is close-knit, and the significant players tend to know one another

The seminar and book titled "Government Marketing Best Practices" reinforce the concept that the government market is largely predicated on relationships. Although this may be true in many other markets, no other market has the same nuances. Nor do other markets feature so many massive contracts with so many regulations as in the government information technology market. In this environment, it is almost impossible to overstate the value of relationships.

A successful career depends on who you know, when you know them and what people think about you. If people like and respect you, they will be more likely to help you at some point when they are in positions of power.

Conversely, people who know you and don’t like you could hinder your career progress.

Relationships are critical at all levels, which feature different market players, such as managers, co-workers, competitors, investors and the media. Those relationships are as important for making minor purchases as they are for building major contracts.

Some of the major players in this market include government and industry buyers; contractors, including manufacturers, resellers, integrators and consultants; associations and special interest groups that serve the market; the press, including radio, TV, print and Internet outlets; employees and former employees; government officials; investors; and lawmakers.

Developing and maintaining all of these relationships play huge roles in the success of companies, agencies and individuals.

By developing and managing your personal reputation in this community, you have a better chance of becoming successful. Although you gain little overt recognition by slowly building a good reputation, you can quickly lose ground by damaging any relationship in the government market.

In large part, this is a close-knit community, and the significant players tend to know one another, either directly or by reputation. Almost everyone knows when someone makes a significant slip.

The process of building those relationships is tedious. But for people who expend the time and effort necessary to build such relationships, the benefits are worthwhile, not the least of which is becoming a trusted member of the community. Conversely, disappointment is in store for those seeking faster routes to perceived market domination.

The government market, by nature and design, is glacial. It represents too much money to move quickly.

An individual or a company looking for a quick hit, or even a relatively short-term hit, is doomed to failure. Those determined to take short cuts are most likely to end up as chalk outlines on the sidewalk.

Not that I have an opinion.

Amtower advises companies on government marketing. His book, "Government Marketing Best Practices," was released this year and is available on his Web site at He can be reached at

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