Diversity certification makes you more attractive to potential business partners, but if you stop at attaining that status, then you're essentially setting your business adrift in space. In addition to getting certification, here are some ways to stand out to supplier diversity professionals.
Supplier diversity professionals use supplier databases to search and identify potential diverse-owned businesses to add to the supply chain. Maintaining an accurate, thorough, up-to-date profile makes it easier to find you and your company.
Your primary goal when registering with a supplier portal is to show up in relevant searches. You don’t want to spend time creating an in-depth profile only to have it fall into a blackhole. You want your profile to stand out from the crowd in a simple search, and appear at the top in targeted, detailed searches.
To maximize your profile, you need a brief but clear company description, concise product descriptions so it’s easy to understand what you do, keywords that are relevant to your core, niche offerings as well as your preferred client or industry, NAICS codes, honest revenue information, and up-to-date references.
That’s a lot to remember, so we have a handy checklist for you. We recommend creating a document with this information so you can easily find it and input the information in a supplier registration portal without needing to recreate it every time.
Supplier Registration Best Practices
- Perfect your company description: Describe who you are and what you do in no more than two lines. Be specific!
- Clarify product descriptions: Include clear, concise product descriptions so anyone can easily ascertain what you offer. Avoid vague buzzwords.
- Define keywords: Make sure you show up in the right portal searches by selecting keywords that are relevant to your core, niche offerings and are client or industry specific. Keywords should be specific and narrow your scope.
- Use correct NAICS codes: Use only specific and correct NAICS codes, and limit yourself to three.
- Report accurate revenue: Be honest and accurate when entering revenue information. Buyers often search within a revenue range; don’t miss opportunities because you’ve left this field blank and excluded your company from appearing in search results.
- Include references: Include up-to-date references in your profile—the more industry- and client-relevant, the better.
- Be thorough: Don’t simply fill in the minimum information required for your profile. This is another opportunity to pitch your company, so leverage it! Make procurement’s job easy by giving them clear, accurate information about what you have to offer.
- Stay updated: Most portals have autonotification for expiry dates (diversity, insurance, etc.); make sure you update your profile annually on your certification renewal date to insure potential clients have access to accurate information. Quick Tip: Add a calendar event 51 weeks out from when you create your profile. This will give you two layers of notification that you need to update expiring documents.
- Be selective: Complete a profile for only the product or service you have identified as having the most opportunity (don’t be a jack-of-all-trades) and those products or services relevant to the customer’s business (target, target, target).
You're just a profile in a database until supplier diversity professionals put a face with the name, so get out there and network! Your local diversity council hosts regular networking events that bring together local small and diverse businesses as well as larger companies looking for potential suppliers.
Also, be on the lookout for corporate-sponsored or hosted events for diverse suppliers, such as Toyota's Opportunity Exchange or Coca-Cola's Business Forum and Supplier Showcase. These may require an invitation to attend, but an email or phone call to your supplier diversity contact at the company should get you on the list.
Your council's national conference is another ideal place to network with decision makers, supplier diversity professionals, and other diverse business owners. These conferences usually offer matchmaking opportunities as well, letting you bypass corporate gatekeepers and get your pitch in front of buyers.
Building a relationship takes time and patience, but companies do business with people they know and supplier diversity professionals are your advocates. Make it a priority to be a familiar face with a stellar pitch so you're top of mind when opportunities arise.