Tips From The Staff/Board

Checklist: The 9 Things to Do Your First Year Certified

Congrats, you’re certified! Whether you just received that exciting letter or you’re just getting around to wondering how to leverage it, follow this checklist to understand everything that comes with certification and how to use it.

1. Learn How to Use It

Tune into our regular free webinar “Maximizing Your Certification,” offered every 1-2 months. We’ll introduce you to the network, tell you about resources and upcoming networking events, and share ways to use your certification to grow your business.

2. Download the Logos and Market Yourself

The WBENC seal is very well recognized among corporate and government procurement and supplier diversity offices. The Women-Owned logo is great for customer or public facing businesses. Add one or both to your business card, website, capability statement, and other materials. Both can be downloaded on WBENCLink under Tools, Branding & Media.

3. Download and Share Your Certificate

You can also find your certificate in WBENCLink. Corporate and government clients will often request this before allowing you access to their supplier diversity programs or contracts. Many corporations also have their own internal database of diverse suppliers (women-owned, minority-owned, LGBT-owned, veteran-owned, or disability-owned). Take a look to see if your target corporation has their own database and upload your certificate.

4. Attend a Local Networking Event (and Connect with the Other 13 Regions)

Keep an eye out for WBEC-East events called Business Connections Day, Doing Business With, Meet & Greet or Food for Thought, as these will give you opportunities to meet and learn from corporate and government representatives, as well as other women-owned businesses.

Do you have an office somewhere else in the country or are you interested in expanding to other states? If you’re just looking for WBEC-East events to network, you’re missing out. Among our network are 14 different regions, with over 16,000 WBEs and 325 corporate supplier diversity members representing major corporations. Check out the full calendar of events for all regions, and sign up to receive event emails from the other regions. Take advantage of virtual programs- you never know what corporate may be active in another region. Your WBE is valid in all 14 regions! Simply let them know that you are certified in WBEC-East and are interested in getting involved with their local region as well.

5. Check Out the Directory

In WBENCLink, you have access to the directory of corporate and government members (Search- Members) as well as other certified WBEs (Search- Vendors). You can search by name, location, or keyword. But remember, the best way to build a business relationship is with a handshake, so come out to those events (see above).

6. Send Your Certificate to Your Current Contracts

It’s not just about getting new business, but strengthening your existing contracts too. Reach out to your current contracts to see if they have a supplier diversity program or goals. They will likely be happy to hear you’re certified, and that they can count you towards their internal diversity goals.

7. Nominate Someone or Yourself for an Award

We offer a number of awards every fall; nominations typically open up in the summer. Was there a WBE or corporate representative who mentored you as you got certified? Is your company a “brave-little-startup” that beat the odds? Are you an emerging leader in your field under 40? Check out the award categories that could get you some serious recognition.

8. Attend a National Event

Trust us when we say your socks will be blown off. The National Conference in the summer welcomes thousands of business owners and buyers, and provides plenty of opportunities to network, pitch, and learn. If your goal is to grow your business outside of our local region and meet potential business contacts in various states, these events can be a game changer. National events are huge, so keep an eye out for smaller gatherings of business owners from our region.

9. Recertify Early!

You are probably still exhausted from your first application review, but be reassured that recertification is so much less arduous and requires few documents unless you’ve had major operational changes. Your expiration date never changes, and you can reapply up to 120 days before you expire, so set your calendar and don’t delay!

Up next:

7 Things All Business Owners Need to Know About Supplier Diversity

4 Questions I Always Get About Recertification

Alphabet Soup: A Guide to Acronyms and Terms You’ll Want to Know