With more than 50 state governments, 3,034 counties and 19,429 municipalities, the U.S. government is the world's largest market for goods and services. According to the Census Bureau, government spending represents more than 25% of gross domestic product. That translates into billions of dollars. And with an $825 billion stimulus package being hashed out between Congress and the White House, expect even more business opportunities this year. So if you haven't considered pitching to the government and landing some contracts, you're missing out. But before you set up a pitch meeting with your mayor or local congressman, here are nine essential things to get under your belt: Learn the lingo: The government has its own language and procedures. You need to know jargon like General Services Administration (GSA) schedule, which means you've been approved to be a contractor, before even thinking about pitching. If you don't know how to speak their language, you won't get very far. Learn the law: The Buy American Act restricts what you can sell to the government, especially if your product is assembled overseas or your service is based outside of the U.S. Check before you pitch and commit. Have a strategy: Know what your business is and what it is capable of. You'll need it when you register at CCR.gov, the Central Contractor Registration database. There, you'll fill out forms like a capability statement and core competency statement. "This goes back to terminology," says Gloria Berthold Larkin, president of TargetGov at Marketing Outsource Associates. "If you show that you understand the terminology, you'll get short-listed because they will think you know what you're doing."