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BUSINESS

Top Tips To Sharpen

Your Networking

SILVIA PENCAK President, WBE Canada Silvia Pencak is the President of Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Canadian nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating relationships betweenCanadian womenowned businesses and large corporate and government organizations across North America. WBE Canada promotes the economic advancement of Women Business Enterprises (WBEs). As a quality third-party certifying body of Canadian businesses that are 51% owned, managed and controlled by women, WBE Canada has been connecting them to large supply chains since 2009. To learn more about their initiatives, visit www.WBECanada.ca. You can connect with Silvia directly on Twitter - @SilviaPencak.

"Many businesses fail to realize how busy the days following the event can be for the buyers - there is work piled up on their desk, emails and messages to get to, not to mention - hundreds of new connections from the event they just attended. And every one of them wants an email response, a meeting or an introduction."

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I CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I JUNE 2019

WBE Canada is busy with preparations for the upcoming trade mission to the U.S. in conjunction with this year’s WBENC Conference. In partnership with Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) and regional women organizations, we are bringing Canadian women-owned businesses to the conference, the largest business fair for women of its kind globally. WBENC’s conference is designed to connect certified Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) to corporate and government buyers and to each other. This 3-day conference, which has grown to over 4,700 attendees over the years, provides WBEs with networking, training, matchmaking and promotional opportunities. WBE Canada has been bringing Canadian women owned businesses to the conference since 2009. Traditionally WBE Canada hosts its Breakfast with Brands: Cross-Border Connection event on the first day of the WBENC conference. It is a smaller event with about 100 attendees in the room. All Corporate Members attending the conference and women-owned businesses from across Canada usually join us, plus we invite other US corporations as our guests to provide networking opportunities and help attendees meet each other and buddy up during the conference. With our focus being on networking, I wanted to share my favourite tips to help readers leverage their networking opportunities.

Do your research The biggest complaint from corporate buyers at events continues to be lack of preparation. Some of the things you want to review before you talk to a corporate buyer are annual reports, corporate social responsibility reports, website updates, press releases, announcements and of course buyer social media streams. We also strongly recommend you review their information for suppliers to help you understand how they operate. Not every corporation will be an ideal client for you. Simple research into a corporation’s values, purchasing conditions, and regulations can save you a lot of frustration down the road.

Do outreach before the event Many businesses fail to realize how busy the days following the event can be for the buyers - there is work piled up on their desk, emails and messages to get to, not to mention hundreds of new connections from the event they just attended. And every one of them wants an email response,a meeting or an introduction. Doing outreach before the event puts you ahead of the crowd. Andt it also creates familiarity so that you are meeting a warm contact who already knows about you through a LinkedIn invite, tweet or email introduction.

Prepare your follow up strategy I know you’ve most likely heard the saying “start with the end in mind”, but did you implement it into your networking approach? Before preparing for networking events, map out your follow up strategy. What is your end goal? What do you want to sell? What is your sales process? The chances of actually selling your product or service at an event are slim (even though it can happen when there is a need and urgency on a buyer side, so do not disregard this option) which is why you need to break your strategy down into smaller steps. What is the easy ask you are going to lead with? Is it to schedule a conversation? Is it to offer an entry package? Is it to ask for introduction? Is it to come to your event as a guest or speaker?

Prepare necessary resources Your follow up strategy needs to include the resources that will help you stay in touch and support your process. Depending on your approach, you might need a business card, product sample, capability statement, case study, or the entire promotional package. Your resources should support and enhance your follow up strategy. This is the time to get creative and think out of the box. What

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