3 Success Secrets of Certified Diverse Suppliers
January 28, 2022 |
The C2FO Team
Getting certified as a diverse supplier can be a huge boost for smaller companies, giving them new opportunities to win business from corporate buyers.
But too many suppliers aren’t enjoying the full benefit of their certification — and never really see any business growth as a result.
That’s because they think earning certification is the end of a journey when it’s actually the first step on a much longer road.
To reap the full value of your status as a minority business enterprise (MBE), women business enterprise (WBE), LGBT business enterprise (LGBTBE), disability-owned business enterprise (DOBE) or other recognized business, you’ll need to take further action and tap into the wealth of opportunities for certified companies.
1. Seek out training and development opportunities
In most cases, the organization that certified you as a diverse business also offers a wealth of training and development programs, whether that’s an online course, a weekend workshop or an ongoing mentoring program. Many corporations host their own supplier development programs, too.
These programs are designed for the unique challenges that diverse suppliers face. They can give you tailored advice for growing faster while avoiding expensive mistakes.
2. Score more face time by attending events
Procurement professionals are like anybody else. They’re more likely to do business with people they know and remember. One of the biggest benefits of supplier development organizations is how they connect diverse businesses with the people who can open the door to new opportunities.
So show up for events. Annual conferences are particularly valuable because you can schedule a ton of face-to-face meetings with clients and prospects in a one- or two-day span.
Live events also create more opportunities for new, unexpected connections. The woman sitting next to you at lunch might be the person who introduces you to your next big customer.
In the age of COVID, “face time” can also mean virtual events and meetings that let you make new connections in other cities, countries or continents. You can find online events hosted by organizations such as:
- The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
- The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
- The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)
- The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
And that’s not counting the many local and regional chambers, industry associations and networking groups. Eventbrite can be a good first stop for locating those near you.
Not great at networking and socializing? Try volunteering. That might mean serving on a committee, but don’t overlook the value of offering to help at the next golf tournament or luncheon. It’s another way to get in the same room as the people who can help your business. More often than not, they’ll ask you about what your company offers.
3. Connect with other diverse suppliers
Supplier development associations are a powerful way to meet corporate buyers, but it’s just as important to engage with other diverse businesses, either in person or online. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to create relationships with like-minded entrepreneurs, or join the conversation on Twitter by following relevant hashtags like #womenowned or #blackpreneur.
Other suppliers can share essential information about new business opportunities or advice on the best way to solve the problems you’re facing. Or you might be in a position to help them with your own hard-earned experience.
Diverse suppliers should look for opportunities to do business with each other, too. Whether you need an attorney or a social media guru, there’s almost always a diverse business in your network that can help and would benefit from your support.
Whatever path you choose, take action. If you took the time to seek out certification, you owe it to yourself and your company to make the most of this valuable resource.