Similar to the federally and state-sponsored supplier diversity programs, many large corporations have supply programs for small businesses. Walmart, Home Depot and Northrop Grumman are just a few of the big name corporations that have these supplier programs, which give small business owners the opportunity to boost business revenue with large, stable corporate contracts. Because these contracts are often high dollar, it is important to cross all of your t’s and dot your i’s before submitting an application, and getting in touch with a supply program coordinator is a great way to double check you are properly completing an application.
In traveling to dozens of supplier events and talking with hundreds of supplier program coordinators over the past few years, one of the consistent messages that I hear is that the program coordinators want you to reach out to them BEFORE you submit your application. In general, the coordinators are some of the most helpful people around and assuming there’s a place for you to get your business into their supplier program, they not only want to help, but can guide you through the process.
With that in mind, here are three great ways to network your way into some potentially great business opportunities:
- Reach out directly – Don’t be hesitant to call or email a supply program coordinator using their business information that is publicly available online. This is a great way to make your application stand out and ensure you are giving the correct information on an application. It is the supply program coordinator’s job to interact with potential contractors, so don’t feel like you’re bothering them when reaching out.
- Attend supplier events and trade shows – Corporations with supply programs will set up booths and give tutorials on how to apply and qualify for a corporate contract. These are great opportunities to get face time with supply program coordinators who are the gatekeepers of corporate contract opportunities.
- Explore the web – Webinars are the virtual alternative to events and trade shows and can still give you the valuable one-on-one contact with a program coordinator. These are also great educational opportunities and are more accommodating to a small business owner’s busy schedule. Also, check out the corporation’s supplier diversity page, if it has one. There, you can usually find a rubric for applying to the supply program and contact information for a coordinator.
Most large corporations will require basic business information as well as a D&B® D-U-N-S Number for your small business. Make sure you have completed all the items on each corporation’s check-list before submitting an application to expedite the process and increase your chances of landing a corporate contract. For more information on Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.’s Supplier Connect, call 1-855-456-8684.
Photo Credit: Dell Inc., Flickr