Tips From The Staff/Board

9 Tips for Business Owners Participating in Meet & Greets

What’s a Meet & Greet?

At many local and national events, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch to corporate and government representatives and learn about their procurement processes. Meet & Greets are a “speed-dating” style of networking where the business owner has the power to choose who they would like to meet. WBEs join a table along with a small group of other business owners, take turns pitching their business, and ask procurement questions of the representative. When the bell rings, go find a new table!

1. Make a plan in advance
There often may not be enough time for you to meet all of the representatives in attendance. Take a good look at the list of corporations attending ahead of time to plan who you most want to meet. Seats at each table are first come, first served, so have a plan with your #1 “must have,” a couple “love to haves,” and a few backup “like to haves.”

2. Divide and conquer
Your employees and colleagues are welcome to participate and pitch on your behalf! If there are only 5 rounds and you want to meet 10 corporates, bring a colleague to maximize your networking.

3. Don’t run
Usually there are only 5 minutes or less between each speed round of networking. Event organizers often provide a floor plan of where each corporate is sitting. Map out your route to avoid the mad dash across the hall, a late entrance, or the worst case- not getting a seat at the table.

4. Prepare a 30 second pitch
Expect an additional 5-8 business owners to join you at each Meet & Greet table. Each cycle is usually only 15-25 minutes. Practice your pitch in advance so everyone gets a chance to go around the table and introduce their business, plus leave time for the representative to tell you about their procurement processes.

5. Bring enough copies of your capability statement
The capability statement is a one-pager resume that highlights your business, and that you can hand out along with your business card. Make it catchy, splashy, and professionally representative of your business so you leave the impression you want.

6. Don’t forget about the other WBEs
Many events have a large turnout from certified WBE business owners… and many of these business owners could be your potential clients too. Don’t get so hung up on meeting corporate and government representatives that you miss out on this huge potential network. Collect business cards from the other WBEs who are sitting at the table with you.

7. Read up on your target clients’ supplier diversity programs
Get to know the supplier diversity programs of the corporations you’ll be meeting in advance. Some representatives will be the actual buyers, while others will be supplier diversity professionals who help WBEs navigate the procurement process in their corporation. Come prepared with the knowledge of how you will be a good fit for the company so you can pitch appropriately, ask personalized questions, and find out how these individuals can help you.

8. Register for portals ahead of time
Often the first question a corporate representative will ask you is “are you registered in our WBE supplier diversity portal?” If you’re not, a corporate will assume you didn’t do your research in advance and aren’t serious about doing business with them. You can generally find links to corporate portals in the WBENCLink directory under “Search-Members” on the left side menu, or often by googling “name of company supplier diversity portal.”

9. Realize this is about relationship building
Being a certified WBE doesn’t guarantee business, but opens up doors to meet these representatives and have an equal opportunity to compete. It takes months and sometimes years to build up to a good business relationship and for the right opportunity to come along. Share your business cards, follow up to build your network, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get business right away. Check out the 11 Secrets to Connecting with Corporates

Join us!

Meet & Greet’s happen throughout the year at both local and national events. Keep an eye on our calendar of events.