participation.jpgAs the year end draws closer, I’ve been reflecting, and I want to focus this post on the value and power of being involved with your local NMSDC council. Over the past three and a half years of being active with our local council, the WRMSDC, I have had the chance to witness firsthand what positive things can come from just a little time and dedication. Being involved beyond simply getting certified is the key to getting the most out of your certification.

My personal involvement for our company, ATR International, has included serving on the Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee (MBEIC). The MBEIC is a group of certified MBE representatives, from all classes, who provide counsel and recommendations so that programs and projects implemented by the NMSDC network are relevant and supportive of minority business development. I attend the monthly MBEIC meeting, as both an Ad Hoc and voting committee member, providing experience and Class 4 support. We also sponsor annual luncheons, share ideas and feedback that influences the development of training programs, webinars, and networking opportunities, and help promote and coordinate the MBEIC LinkedIn page, as well as provide assistance and advice to other sub committees.

This is a snippet of the support needed to have a strong local council. I have been fortunate to have the privilege of working and establishing friendships with many driven and smart business owners in the Bay Area. These dedicated professionals give their time and energy to help one another succeed as diverse suppliers. I know for me, and I think they all would share this perspective, volunteering my time to help, and seeing the bottom line growth and genuine success we achieve together, is incredibly rewarding.

Further, while Supplier Diversity is about the fresh and diverse perspectives that bring strength and unique value to the table, which makes businesses more competitive and successful, it also makes individual people better. I can honestly say that some of my personal growth has been the result of learning from so many of these individuals and the wonderful, diverse perspectives they have shared.

We all know that corporations have many requirements that small, diverse, women, and veteran owned businesses need to meet, from insurance requirements, to communication preferences, size, scale, talent, etc. There’s a lot to learn and it can be challenging just starting a dialogue with large companies. Getting your questions answered and communicating with the right people can be tough sometimes. Where can you voice your needs and find help? Your local MBEIC committee is this resource; it’s where you can be heard.

The committee hosts monthly meetings open to ALL certified MBE’s. We want to hear from our member MBEs about their challenges and how we can help. We are the voice that speaks on your behalf when we work with National representatives to develop programs and liaise with corporate members. We need to hear from you so that we can best represent your needs and interests. Attending an open meeting and sharing your views and concerns can help not only you but the larger MBE community as well.

There are many reasons to consider attending an open MBEIC meeting though. Here are some of the best:

  • Friendship, mentoring and advice. Regardless of MBE classification or size, the business friendships made through council involvement can bring value to your company and your role within it. There are professionals who attend from different industry backgrounds that bring years of experience who are happy to provide friendship and guidance that any business can benefit from. These MBEs have been through similar challenges. They’ve experienced the different stages in the supplier process, they’ve developed relationships with buyers, and they’ve generally been involved in the supplier diversity community in some way or another, often for years. Their experience can help you.
  • MBE Business to Business Spend. At every MBEIC meeting, or really any council event, you get the opportunity to share with others a little about yourself and your company. This gives MBE companies the opportunity to get to know each other, do business and buy from one another. Many MBEs have diverse spending goals themselves and this is a great way to find MBEs providing the goods and services you need. Help be the change needed in Supplier Diversity by supporting other MBEs!
  • Potential referrals. There have been many success stories that resulted from businesses that got to know fellow MBE businesses through council involvement. If we are not able to do business with a company I meet, I do everything in my power to either advocate their business with a corporate contact that I already have a relationship with or forward an opportunity I come across to that MBE to pursue. Perhaps it’s an RFI that does not apply to staffing but does for a product or service that an MBE I know sells. If it weren’t for me meeting and getting to know them through the council, I wouldn’t be able to make the referral.

For 2016, the NMSDC has a billion-dollar spending goal. It’s ambitious but definitely reachable. It will be driven by an increase in MBE business opportunities and a rise in MBE-to-MBE spend, and the committee is reaching out more than ever to NMSDC’s corporate members, regional councils, and MBE companies, to help achieve this goal. Be a part of this exciting growth initiative by actively participating in your local council’s efforts.

There are so many benefits to participation, and many of them are better experienced in person. I encourage you to attend an upcoming function – whether it’s a committee meeting, training session, or luncheon gathering – and share your feedback with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts as to what you took from the event and how they can be better.

I hope and truly believe that you’ll have a good experience: know that the benefits may seem small at first but will accrue and show more results the longer and more you are involved. It is never too late to come build new friendships with motivated, likeminded people that can help you grow!

Come get the most out of your certification and help yourself and other minority owned businesses be strong and successful in 2016.

I hope to see some new faces in our local area soon!

Angelique Solorio
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity

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