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L. Jay Burks, PhD

Director of Supplier Diversity of Comcast Corporation

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Diverse Businesses: Stand Out at Trade Shows and Conferences

September 15, 2016

These events are attended by procurement officials and other decision makers.

A great way for diverse businesses to uncover new companies to work with is to meet them at conferences or trade shows. These events are attended by procurement officials and other decision makers, giving you a chance to sell your business in a face-to-face setting. I attend quite a few of these events throughout the year. Here are some ways you can help your business stand out at trade shows and conferences:

  • Be Prepared – Find out which companies will be attending the conference or trade show you are attending and identify the ones you want to meet. Understand what they do and how your business can help. Follow them on social media – even tweet to them beforehand to let them know you are looking forward to meeting. And try to get a meeting scheduled before you go - you don’t want to leave this to chance.
  • Be Involved – I like meeting people who are active in their associations. Sponsor something at the conference, speak on a panel or volunteer for a committee. It’s a great way to show you are serious and another way to stand out.
  • Do Something Special – When I’m at a conference I often meet hundreds of vendors and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So, be sure you do something. Make a personal connection; tell them something they don’t know; show them your commitment.
  • Follow Through – Don’t forget about the follow-up! I always recommend a personal note and some actionable item to keep the relationship going. Maybe it’s letting them know that you’ve added your business to their portal or sending them that client reference you discussed.

If you play your cards right, you could be starting some very lucrative and exciting relationships!

Which Conferences Should You Attend?

As an example, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Annual Conference & Business Fair brings together Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) with senior executives and procurement representatives from the Fortune 500 and the U.S. Government - all for an opportunity to network and find mutually beneficial relationships.

Check out what your organization hosts and get involved! Here is just a sampling of what’s available:

You may also want to consider attending industry trade shows or events for the area you are interested in. For example, if you wanted to work with the cable industry, there are a number of shows including the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) Conference and the Internet & Television Expo (INTX).

The strategies are the same. And the payoff could be significant.

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