13th Annual WBEC-West Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference, Unveiling Opportunities: Beyond Today & Tomorrow
WBEC-West has striven to develop and foster outstanding Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) by creating a network of dedicated and educated women business owners. It has been an honor witnessing their success and participating in the 13th Annual WBEC-West Strategic Procurement Opportunity Conference. Held at The M Resort Spa and Casino in Henderson, Nevada, the three-day conference featured matchmaker opportunities, roundtable meetings with corporate partners and government agencies, and workshops that not only provided WBEs with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the strategic procurement process, but also the chance to build meaningful, long-lasting relationship with other WBEs.
Integritas Resources, Inc. is not only honored to be nominated as the WBE Supplier of the Year 2016, but also deeply grateful for this invaluable opportunity to present our company capabilities, as well as to forge and maintain relationships with other professional women that have the same level of passion and dedication.
We could not have asked for a better series of workshops, in which representatives from various companies offer insights into topics ranging from cyber security, building sustainable relationships with business partners and clients, to developing global strategies. Here are some highlights from the workshops:
Growing your Business Through Building Strategic, Sustainable Relationships
Athena Chiera, Vice President of Business Development at Athena Engineering, Inc., led the first All WBE Workshop with a very informative and interactive session on networking. Stressing the importance of having a genuine interaction, she advised all WBEs to start with a normal conversation with the company they are trying to network with, ask them questions, and try to relate to them. The point is to become valuable and to make them see you as a resource, rather than a salesperson. It makes a real difference in their impression of you when you show your commitment and interest in their company, rather than coming across overly enthusiastic and focusing the conversation on your own business(es).
Athena advised jotting down your interactions with others into a database to keep a record of your contacts post conference. She also advised on the importance of following up with the contacts two to three weeks after the meeting. In the email, mention any memorable topics you discussed , and ask when the appropriate time is to follow up with them again. Remember, though, to keep your email brief – appreciate that they are busy, and that no one likes to read long paragraphs in their emails.
Led by Ankit Brahmkshatri, Manager of Supplier Diversity at Disney, this panel included Ronda Jackson, the founder of Décor Interior Design, Inc., Charlene Hesketh, President of Photomation, Susan Munro, President of Hybrid Collective, and Bernadette Rivero, President of Cortez Brothers. They focused on the strategic sourcing process and the strengths of WBEs, especially those that partner with each other. One of the things that makes it so great to work with other WBEs, they all agreed, is their sheer passion and dedication. In particular, Charlene Heskett expressed, “The thing that makes WBEC shine is that we all want to teach and help each other. You can always trust that they will deliver and go above and beyond your expectations.”
Global Session 2: Positioning Your Company for Global Expansion
As the world is becoming more interconnected and interaction between people, companies, and countries intensifies, firms need to be evermore resourceful and come up with innovative strategies to capitalize on and adapt to the rapidly changing social, political, and economic situation to ensure not only their success, but more fundamentally their survival. Terri Batch from Batch Global Strategies recognizes the risks and uncertainties of doing business across borders, and in this workshop helped WBEs assess their global expansion readiness by posing questions such as:
- Are you ready to adapt your product into the international market?
- Is the pricing of your product competitive in the international market?
- How long would your management be willing to wait to achieve acceptable export results?
She advised WBEs to go international (1-2 markets outside of your home country) before they go global. Before a business ventures into new markets, it is imperative that it has high domestic sales. Business owners should also conduct extensive market research for its domestic operations, and feel confident that the business could promptly fill new export orders.
Knowing there are many fears and risks associated with global expansion, Terri offered great solutions and advice, for example, recommending US companies to do business in countries where they receive preferential treatment. As of January 2015, the US has Free Trade Agreements in force with 20 countries, including Australia, Singapore, and Korea. In addition, she cited the Gold Key Service as a great resource for WBEs who wish to expand globally. The Gold Key Service is a business matchmaking service that offers global trade counselling and gives advice on planning and strategy, legal and regulatory issues, trade finance and insurance, and many more. It conducts business matchmaking by helping businesses identify potential partners, determine the marketability of your product/service, and facilitate one-on-one meetings with your potential business partners.
Cecelia Sullivan from PTI Solutions: Expanding Your Business with and beyond Current Clients: How to Best Leverage Your Current Customer Base
As a 100% women owned business, PTI Solutions has dedicated itself to exceptional leadership and innovation for 30 years. In this workshop, CEO and President Cecelia Sullivan talked about building a trusted partnership, and expanding business through customer diversification and customer retention. First, she asked us, “How available can you make yourself to your customers?”
When talking about marketing investments, she stressed the importance of communication. Remind your customers how much you appreciate working with them by sending them an email or a handwritten thank you note – a personal touch goes a long way. Maintain a deep level of commitment with them by keeping in contact even when you are not currently doing business with them. To make your efforts stand out even more, send your clients a gift or thank you note mid-year instead of during major holidays. Because it is unexpected, it will add more value and gain more attention. That being said, some companies have a no gifts or gratuities policy, so make sure you do your research before sending anything.
Finally, it is imperative to assess your company’s scalability when you contemplate business expansion. How do you scale your company when a new opportunity presents itself to meet the client’s demands, often in a short period of time? Do you have applicable and sufficient resources? Everyone would like to see their business grow, but their business might not be ready for expansion.
Of course, these are only four of the many informative and inspirational workshops at the WBEC-West Strategic Procurement Conferences. We have truly enjoyed and taken away much from other workshops such as Best Practices Geared Towards Getting Your Product in the Store and on the Virtual Shelf, Cyber Security and the Procurement Process – What you Need to Know for Success, and Focusing Forward: The Digital Landscape and its Impact on Your Business.
We would like extend our congratulations to the winning WBEs again. We are moved by the passion, inspiration, and dedication of all our fellow WBEs, and cannot wait to see them next year at the 14th Annual WBEC-West Strategic Procurement Conference in San Diego!