As the year comes to an end, I would like to share a few tips for MBE’s planning their growth for the New Year. I hope both Minority Business Enterprises along with Corporations on the receiving end find this information helpful.
Do your research and know your audience, make sure you know exactly what products you can support and what volumes you can provide. Register with the company on their Supplier Diversity Portal before your approach. A Sr. Director of Supplier Diversity once said in a workshop “If you cannot take the time to register with our company and fill out a few pages, then why should we work with you?” His or her time is valuable so be prepared to show him/her what makes your company different. (Don’t forget how vital your 30 second elevator pitch is during this initial contact, the first 10 seconds being the most powerful). Have your capability statement on hand which shows how you are unique and what you can bring to the table.
Getting Your Company in the Limelight –Tradeshows/Conferences
Attend a major Supplier Diversity tradeshow such as the yearly NMSDC conference. Do your homework and make a list of the companies that you would like to target based on the product or service that you offer. Consider criteria such as geographic alignment, usage levels, etc. This will give you the opportunity to establish a personal connection and network with many Supplier Diversity and procurement professionals. Previous to the event, invest in yourself and get a coach, you can even ask a mentor that you already know. People are usually more than willing to help if you are in need for feedback so that you are fully confident that you will knock it out of the park.
The Follow Up
The follow up is one of the most crucial parts of attending a tradeshow. If there is no follow up, the possibility for a future partnership with any of your contacts is minimal. This is where your patience comes in, send a simple personalized email to the individuals you met reminding them of your conversation and don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit for them to respond. Most of these professionals travel and are often away from the office and recommend that you email them rather than call since email is at their fingertips. Stay in communication and don’t lose hope just because a company does not have a need at the moment does not mean that there will not be a need in the future.
Leveraging Who You Know
Your current customers are quite often your best marketing tool. People talk and if you have a proven track record with current clients, they will be very likely to recommend you to other companies. These references are golden, this happened just from the trust and support you have built. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation or reference from one of your current clients.
The Benefits of Technology
Besides your website, using the most common technology to share your story and expertise is a must. Every major corporation that you are looking to do business with is on one or more of the big social networks including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook , Pinterest, and Google+. You need to be there too. And once you connect with people, it’s important to provide useful content as a way of demonstrating your expertise in what it is that you do.
In closing, marketing your MBE is a challenge, but if you focus on developing relationships, connecting with those relationships online, and providing them with useful content, you will be headed in the right direction. I wish you the best of luck in 2013. If there is a topic or idea you would like to add and share, please contact me and I will be happy to assist. Happy Holidays from ATR to you!
Corporate Outreach Manager/Supplier Diversity
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