How do I connect with my SBIR sponsor whom I have not met?

Assuming you have identified your sponsor point-of-contact - the person within the government agency who is responsible for writing and publishing solicitations for SBIR grants. What is the best way for you to reach out to them?

As with all networking efforts, the best way is to try to get a warm introduction via somebody you both know. Reach deep into your network and ask your Principal Investigator, professor, or other professional contact to introduce you. 

If you don't have any contacts who can introduce you, the next best thing is to reach into the alumni network of your university and see if you can find someone who works in that government agency in a related capacity - and then cold-email them for an introduction and ask for an informational interview. If you get that far, you can ask for an introduction after you establish a personal connection with your alumni connection.

If you truly cannot find any common connections, you will need to cold-email the sponsor point of contact. Depending on the agency, some of them may not be allowed to talk to you due to the agency's policy. Do thorough research on the agency's website to find out when the sponsors are able to engage - and then email them while the window of opportunity is open.

Whether you are able to get a warm introduction, or you end up having to resort to cold-emailing, it is worth carefully crafting an email that is both intriguing and easily digestible, so the other party is enticed to open it, read it, and engage with you. Here are some pro-tips on how to write a successful cold-email to an SBIR sponsor point-of-contact.

  • Carefully wordsmith the subject line so it excites their curiosity. 
  • Create a 1-page, SIMPLE powerpoint explaining your value proposition / key idea / key technology
  • Write a SHORT, CONCISE email with a clear ask (e.g. you may ask for a 30 minute introductory phone call)
  • Within the short, concise email, cite prior research for credibility if appropriate
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