The Northwest Mountain Minority Suppliers Development Council (NWMMSDC) is a national organization that links government agencies, corporations, and private sector prime contractors with certified minority-owned businesses (MBE’s) wanting to do business. NWMMSDC is a 501c3 with two-tier participation. The Northwest chapter includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. Shepherding the organization for the last eight years is president and CEO, Fernando Martinez. Fernando says the council’s purpose is laser-focused to create equity between qualified minority businesses and Fortune 500 corporations, regional corporations, and public agencies like the Port of Seattle.
Q: Who should join the Northwest Mountain Minority Suppliers Development Council?
A: From a corporate perspective, entities that believe in diversity workforce, marketing, and supply chain. From the minority business perspective, companies that want to be on a grander scale and wish to grow.
Q: What is NWMMSDC’s relationship with the Port of Seattle?
A: The council has had a relationship with the Port of Seattle for over thirty years. We support the Diversity in Contracting team members. We provide them with a list of competent WMBE’s with a proven history to meet the contracting needs of the Port.
This past summer, I was invited to speak and I talked about our pillars. Our organization has four key pillars. The first is the certification process, a robust approach to certify minority businesses. The second is development. That’s where we (with our partners) work with MBEs to help them understand their gaps and their strengths. We also assist them in building capacity for their organization. The next pillar is networking. That pillar matches competent businesses with opportunities at the Port of Seattle.
We hold events and offer one-on-one meetings and personal introductions. It’s relationship building. The last piece is advocacy. This is where we work to educate our MBEs, our corporate and public agencies, and, in some cases, legislators about supplier diversity. We want to educate everybody on the value of supplier diversity and the value of being inclusive.
Q: What advice do you have for small and WMBE businesses?
A: Dream big and let people help you with your dream. Don’t assume you know everything, that you don’t need any help, or can do everything yourself. Be willing to let others help and support you with your dream. Open yourself up to exposure and vulnerabilities because that will make you stronger, and it will put you in a better position to do business with organizations like the Port.
Q: What expectation does the council have for its businesses?
A: We hold them accountable for who they are and what they want to be. We point out that pitfalls and help them change their strategies. The best thing we can be is honest and truthful with them and not give them veiled statements.
Q: What should businesses do now in these uncertain times?
A: Small MBEs should take advantage of everything the government offers, including paycheck protection, and emergency disaster loans. Firms need to understand business sustainability, be willing to engage and network with others, and able to expand their businesses since 25 to 30 percent won’t come out of this pandemic. Businesses should look at how they can grow and absorb those that won’t make it.
Q: What are some of the council goals for the future?
A: We are committed to leaning in. We don’t just think about the business. We think about the people the firms employ and help them grow to pay their employees better wages. The employees can then provide food and shelter, and their kids can go to school with full tummies and focus on learning. Our council’s utmost agenda is your great-grandchild. I want to help you grow, so you leave something for your great-grandchild. If we do this, we will have generational wealth, and we will have economic and political strength. We can truly change the dynamics of racism in this country.
President and CEO, Fernando Martinez, featured in the video below (1:35):
A message from our President and CEO, Fernando Martinez.
- How to register to do business with the City of Seattle? Firms learned how to properly register with the City of Seattle’s Online Business Directory. All firms seeking to do business with the City of Seattle must be registered as a Supplier. Registering here places your firm into a directory utilized by City of Seattle departments when searching for businesses to fulfill work orders. Firms engaged in the process of developing a capabilities statement. To learn more: TAS Workshop 1
- How to research the City of Seattle opportunities and contracts? Firms learned how to search and find City of Seattle solicitations and reviewed effective searching practices. After finding solicitations participants learned how to evaluate whether or not a particular solicitation is right for them (make go/no-go decisions). This training discussed choosing the opportunity that appropriately fits your business. To learn more: TAS Workshop 2
- How to read and respond to a City of Seattle Request for Proposal? In this workshop, firms gained an understanding of how to properly respond to the City of Seattle’s Request for Information, Request for Quote and Request for Proposal. Knowing how to respond and with what information, will help to gain further consideration from the City. To learn more: TAS Workshop 3
- How to design and develop your marketing collateral? Learn how to develop a complete marketing strategy to prepare your business to successfully engage with the City of Seattle for potential business opportunities. In this workshop, firms discussed creating marketing with purpose! To learn more: TAS Workshop 4
- What are the back office responsibilities you are accountable for? In this workshop, participants learned how to interpret the terms and conditions of a contract and translate that into actionables. This helps to create deliverable timelines to better manage back office responsibilities and comply with contract terms and conditions. To learn more: TAS Workshop 5
- Now that you have the business, how do you finance it for growth? In this final workshop, firms dove into a discussion around growing your business smart. Participants learned from subject matter experts in the following fields: Finance, Accounting Budgeting and Tax Planning. They also reviewed tips on how to best use and manage credit. To learn more: TAS Workshop 6
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) affects every one of us is some way, shape, or form. Whether it is in product manufacturing, warehousing & inventory, or reduced service activities, we invite you to stay informed through our Council Blog. Updates are coming out daily, follow us to our main source of communication, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce website.
The state of Washington has officially created a page for Coronavirus information. Visit www.coronavirus.wa.gov
Be Safe in all you do!
Fernando Martinez, President of the Northwest Mountain MSDC presented on Supplier Diversity at the Microsoft Supplier Diversity Day Event on May 28, 2019.
Are you aware of the Washington State Paid Family & Medical Leave, authorized by the legislature in 2017? Premium collections by employers begin to process January 1, 2019. Employee wages and hours need to be tracked by employers to begin reporting April 1, 2019. Actual employee benefits will be available January 1, 2020. This applies to nearly all employers statewide regardless of size, including out-of-state employers with Washington employees.
- Self-employed individuals (may opt in)
- Federal Employees
- Federally Recognized Tribes (may opt in)
- Individuals who temporarily work in WA
Visit www.paidleave.wa.gov/employers and find out how WA State Paid Family & Medical Leave will impact your business and your employees.
This is a continuation of “How to Prepare for Effective Networking.”
We polled some of our corporate members and MBEs on effective networking. They sent us some of the best practices, tips, and Dos and Don’ts of networking.
When you get there:
- Be patient. (Networking and establishing business relationships takes time).
- Come in with a targeted list of who you want to make an impact with and what you will offer.
- (Remember to always) be professional, have a professional presence. First impressions are important.
- When I’m networking, I like to start out with the mindset of, “How can I help the people I meet?”
- Relax, networking events can be overwhelming at times.
- Believe that you can and will make great progress. After making all the necessary preparations, having the right mindset can lead to many great things.
How to introduce yourself:
- Keep your introduction succinct.
- Offer a handshake and introduce yourself and what organization you are with. (Remember the name. Use it three times and it’s yours.)
- Smile… be welcoming.
- Don’t assume that the person that you met previously will remember your name! Unless a person is addressing you by your name when you see them again, then assume they don’t know and state it again.
During the conversation:
- Show passion for what you do.
- LISTEN closely to what’s being said.
- Listen twice as much as talk. Ask questions.
- Show excitement for what they do.
- Write down information in stenography notebook.
- Consider this first meeting as an opportunity for relationship building and for future opportunities to connect… you’re not going to get it all done with the first meeting, so don’t try. We don’t want to (and you shouldn’t want to) spend 30 minutes with any one individual at a networking event.
- Don’t be disappointed if a target corporation is not interested or doesn’t have any current opportunities. It’s better that you know now than be strung along.
- However, don’t assume that corporations do not talk to each other… we do! And often times, we can be your resource to meet other potential targets.
How to make the most out of it:
- Ask about other companies attending the event that they should meet. We can be very helpful this way and want to direct you to those that can benefit from knowing more about your company.
- Instead of trying to collect contact information, I’m actively listening to the people I meet at an event and trying to figure out how I can help them solve a problem.
- If I can’t help them directly, I connect them with someone in my network who can do that for them. I try to be a connector and give more value than I get.
- Team up with an existing customer to use as an immediate reference to your work when meeting future/potential customers. An in-person testimonial can seal next steps quickly.
- Seek to develop a relationship with the event host leadership. In the case of the Northwest Minority Supplier Development Council, a MBE should develop a solid rapport with the CEO, Staff, Board of Directors and Corporate sponsors.
How to close:
- Make the ASK and go for the appropriate close so you get a chance at the next steps.
- Exchange cards and ask if you may contact them.
- Ask for a business card and let them know you’ll be contacting them in the near term to provide an electronic capabilities statement, but also an email to better define your value proposition for that particular corporation.
- Don’t ask for a business card if you have no intention of following up. If you have provided us with your business card… we’ll remember that you didn’t follow up.
- If you make a solid corporate connection during an event and you would like to follow-up with that person, politely ask if you can schedule a meeting with them right on the spot! Recommendation – ask for a date at least 30 days out from the current date to minimize potential conflicts as many Supplier Diversity professionals typically have a busy travel schedule. Also for an initial call, I recommend you ask for a 30 minute or less conference call – not an hour.
What not to do:
- Don’t let nerves take over so you keep talking, don’t dominate the conversation.
- DO NOT take all of their time or make them feel captive. Networking is meant to mingle with many people.
- Don’t try and “sell” your company’s products and services at a networking event unless the conversation lends itself to that; on the other hand, be prepared to clearly articulate your business in a 15 second elevator pitch because invariably someone will ask you “what do you do”.
- Don’t try to land a job, your goal is to make the introduction
- Don’t distribute handouts… this is not the time or place.
- LEAVE any marketing materials at home – give and collect business cards.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this blog: Dennis Brooks, Lisa Castillo, Pedro Castro, Lana Gosnell, James Hing, Sharon S. Lucas, Fernando Martinez, and Swen Nater.
Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, consulting or any other professional advice or service. The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors, contributors, references and commenters on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council or its employees, stakeholders, members and sponsors. Any mention of other companies and organizations aside from the Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council does not necessarily reflect or represent the views, opinions or positions of those companies and organizations or their employees, stakeholders, members and sponsors. Read more: Legal Disclaimer
Direct recommendations from Supplier Diversity Executives and MBEs
Northwest Mountain MSDC events provide excellent venues for business networking. While preparing for the 2018 Annual Awards Dinner & Silent Auction, we polled some of our corporate members and MBEs on effective networking. They sent us some of the best practices, tips, and Dos and Don’ts of networking.
Please remember that these are the opinions of contributors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Council, and these apply to Premiere Events. For full legal disclaimer please visit the Council’s Disclaimer Page.
Preparing for the Event:
Before you attend an event, decide what success looks like for you. Document your objectives for the purpose of observing what you achieved after participating.
Plan your strategic approach and strategic communication.
Be prepared, review the members list before hand and set a goal for who you want to meet.
Identify important people you want to meet and reach out in advance, if possible. Say “Looking forward to meeting you.”
Make the most of your time by ensuring you do your homework and be prepared for those you will be meeting with.
On what to say:
Prepare a short paragraph on exactly what you do. Practice it.
Refine the introduction of yourself and the business your represent – customize an introduction for a corporate target vs an “unknown” individual, but also identify whether you are the business owner, BD rep, etc. We want to know who we’re talking to.
Have your elevator speech solid and ready including what is your value proposition specific to those you’re targeting at the networking event. A generalized value proposition doesn’t always cut it. Elevator speeches should not be more than 3 minutes.
Don’t try to land a job, your goal is to make the introduction.
On preparing your questions:
Building rapport with someone is extremely effective if you are good at asking questions – practice listening more and talking less.
Make a list of questions you want to ask your target company. It shows interest and intent. The answers you receive may also help develop your business strategy.
On what to know:
Know your audience: in other words, do your homework on WHO is attending the networking event and then DO research about them before you get to the networking event so you’re up to date about their business model, recent press releases & strategy plans.
Check out the company’s Supplier Diversity website – not all programs are the same and it will give you a foundation of understanding what you need to say.
Research the company’s mission, so you know their company’s top priorities and it then becomes apparent you have done your research.
If you can, KNOW what your future potential customer needs are BEFORE the event so that you network with future customers who actually could consume your products or services. A win-win for both parties at a networking event.
On preparing your value proposition:
Be prepared to communicate your value proposition and what makes you different than your competition. (Corporations are contacted by hundreds of suppliers via email, at events, phone calls etc., each supplier wants a contract and would like to do business with us – but why should we do business with you versus the other 99 suppliers who approached us before you? What makes you different? Be prepared and ready to communicate this).
Practice! Practice! Practice!
Practice your introduction with what you want to offer.
Practice on your elevator speech and make it brief but informative. Be professional!
On what to bring:
Bring business cards!
Know who is coming so you can plan what to say and what to bring.
Come in with a targeted list of who you want to make an impact with and what you will offer.
Bring a stenography notebook for writing down contacts. Four columns: Name, Organization, Position, Notes.
Always bring enough of your business cards to any event.
Don’t distribute handouts… this is not the time or place.
LEAVE any marketing materials at home – give and collect business cards.
On who to bring:
BRING your owner and decision makers to build those relationships and show the face of your company beyond the sales person.
What not to miss:
Be professional, have a professional presence and proofread your marketing materials. First impressions are important.
(With regards to your business cards) from a print perspective, glossy business cards look cool, but I prefer a semi-matte finish so that I can write on my cards with a ballpoint pen. This may be a website, an app, or a quick tip I can share with someone. It attaches greater value to my name and it’s convenient.
Make a list of current or past business partners that you can talk about and use as reference during and after networking.
If you can find an “icebreaker” or someone to make the introduction that is really helpful but not necessary.
A note (or more) on what to wear:
Over dress! Make sure to be in Business Professional Dress (No 2nd chance for a 1st impression).
Dress like an executive.
Wear something to an event that is professional, but memorable! Most business events have a plethora of people wearing black, however bright, solid colors really stand out. While your connection may not remember your name the next time, they may remember something about your outfit.
Dress appropriately & drink responsibly.
When you know that some of your target corporations will be attending a networking event…DO some homework, but DON’T dominate their time. Remember, this is your first opportunity to meet your target and leave a lasting and great impression. Make sure you leave us wanting to further the conversation because having a foundation of a strong relationship will keep you memorable.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this blog: Dennis Brooks, Lisa Castillo, Pedro Castro, Lana Gosnell, James Hing, Sharon S. Lucas, Fernando Martinez, Swen Nater.
The above information is intended solely for personal non-commercial use. Any information taken from this page is the full responsibility of the user. While we have taken every precaution to insure that the content is both current and accurate, errors can occur. The information provided is general in nature and should not be considered to be legal, tax, accounting, consulting or any other professional advice or service. Please read our legal disclaimer.