Certification through the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC) brings many benefits. Most MBEs regardless of size see the benefit of attending the larger events such as the national conference, but I have noticed over the years that more of the smaller MBEs take advantage of our seminars and workshops for valuable training and networking. It’s a shame but I don’t generally see many of my fellow Class 4 MBE members attending these same local events, and it’s time we change that.
The NMSDC needs larger, more experienced MBEs to share our experience and knowledge, and to give advice to the newest members of the MBE community. The benefit of our years in business – the things we’ve seen, mistakes we’ve overcome, successes we’ve achieved – is an incredible gift to share with MBEs smaller than us. MBEs that have achieved longevity, significant growth, and steady profits and success are a wealth of information for those just starting out or in the first few years of business.
I know that attending a workshop on funding, social media branding, or basic tips for RFP’s is probably not something an established MBE necessarily thinks they need but what about attending it to share your knowledge? Perhaps you could act as an instructor or serve on a panel or Q&A session.
Attending events with the goal of meeting more than just corporate program managers is another great way that larger, more established MBEs can get involved. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the other MBE members in your area. You’ll learn about their business, and develop a relationship that will hopefully allow you both to watch out for opportunities for each other, and refer or provide introductions where possible.
With the NMSDC’s billion dollar revenue goal for its MBE members, it’s going to take all of us working together. MBE to MBE spend is just as critical as corporate spend. As a “senior” member of the community we have a real ability, and I would argue a real responsibility, to promote other MBEs, to increase our own MBE spend where possible, and to help reach that $1B mark. MBE to MBE networking is a key to making this happen.
As a Class 4 MBE, ATR International made a commitment several years ago to strengthen our connection to the NMSDC and its local councils in particular (since we have offices across the US). We increased our participation, sponsoring and attending events, serving on committees, and generally expanding our support where there was a need and we were able to. Because of that we’ve made some valuable business connections that have actually led to introductions and subsequent RFI/RFP opportunities.
It isn’t just selfless charity; you too can benefit from this kind of participation, no matter how well-known or successful you’ve become. Corporate buyers don’t simply rely on the database to look up an MBE and slot it into their program. They network. They want to meet potential suppliers and get to know them well before they promote them internally. Word of mouth and recommendations are critical parts of networking and sourcing. The program managers that I’ve met and know are all happy for me to refer them to a company or be introduced to someone I might know who can provide a product they need.
Finally, I am a past member of the WRMSDC’s Minority Business Enterprise Input Committee (WRMBEIC). The WRMBEIC’s mission, and that of its counterparts in other regions, is to be the voice of the members. The Committee wants to hear what matters to all MBEs, not just newly certified ones. What seminar would be more helpful to you and your company? What topics are of particular interest for larger, more established MBEs? How can the Council help you? They want to target their offerings to the needs of all members and can only do that if they hear from everyone, from MBEs of all sizes and revenue levels.
So there it is. No matter how big or how small you are, whether you’re a year one start up or celebrating 20 plus years in business, the benefits are waiting for you. I encourage everyone to attend both local and national events, participate and share, and see what good things happen!
Corporate Outreach Manager, Supplier Diversity