Atlantic Canada’s Leading Resource for Women Entrepreneurs Since 1992, located at the RBC Centre for Women in Business, MSVU.

Why You Should Start Attending Supplier Diversity Events NOW

April 20, 2016

Tanya Priske | Executive Director | Centre for Women in Business

Tanya PriskeI can’t stress it enough to business owners looking to create new customers: it takes work. Organizations like the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council [CAMSC] and Women Business Enterprise Canada [WBE Canada] make it easier by bringing together those who can connect you into their supply chains through their events. The rest is up to you.

But it is an investment you need to make.

Attending two second supplier diversity event in two days last week, I left the Allstream Centre in Toronto feeling empowered.

The Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) hosted their 12th annual Diversity Procurement Fair. 

Cassandra Dorrington, CAMSC’s President, is the networker.  She works her magic throughout the event introducing corporates to suppliers, suppliers to suppliers.   Her inclusion of everyone that walks through her door is impressive.  Her network is large: I always ask her is there anyone you don’t know?

The event started with a bootcamp that helped suppliers understand leveraging their certification, accessing programs and services, and doing business globally.   Day two opened with a panel discussion followed by workshops that got down to business imperatives.  I was impressed how each panelist shared a minimum of one tip on how to position your company for success.

I listened.  I nodded.  I even said an occasional AMEN!  Because their messages not only resonated with reality, but it made me pay attention to the details I had to bring home to share with the clients we serve.

My ROI was high! But it wasn’t all about corporates and suppliers signing the contract. It was also about sharing of best practices, identifying new practices and building of networks.   Here are just a few I will share with you should you decide to participate in one of these events:

  • Be authentic. Be nice. Be transparent. Manage expectations. Simple words echoed by more than one presenter.
  • Humanize the relationship!
  • Relationships are important. Success is having face time with supplier diversity professionals or buyers. This is not easy to achieve in business but CAMSC is giving you the opportunity of a business lifetime!                                                             
  • Your focus should be on the ‘customer’ not the contract! Find out what is important to them.
  • Conversations lead to further conversations. You may not speak directly to the person who can give your company business, but building the relationship may get you to the next meeting via an introduction.
  • Be prepared when you have a 1:1 meeting with a supplier diversity professional or buyer. Know their business. Help them understand you can provide more value from your product or service than they are currently receiving from other suppliers.


  • Be a solutions provider!
  • Follow-up, follow-up and then be patient!
  • Find alliances within an organization. They can help. Don’t forget a supplier diversity professional or buyer may move to another corporation. The relationships you build with them, travel with them.
  • Defining your company’s value proposition is key. Help potential buyers understand you have defined processes for your actions.   Help the customer recognize you are serious about what you deliver!
  • When pitching, show the corporates how your company can impact their bottom line: reduce cost of operations; help make them more sustainable; bring diversity to their supply chain; help them achieve their business objectives.
  • Go 3 wide and 3 deep. It may take time to find the right connection within an organization. Make relationships with non-decision makers too!
  • Ask a company you currently do business with for a recommendation to another company.
  • Show relevancy. Show potential clients how you can solve problems. Look for competitive innovations that larger companies may not be able to provide.
  • Remember, supplier diversity professionals have good intentions, but a lot of times they are one person. Patience was mentioned more than once.
  • Corporates that have a decentralized purchasing system can be challenging but there are advantages. 

The one thing everyone at this supplier diversity event had in common? They came. They understand the value of showing up, and all business owners should.

Show up!

Don't miss upcoming Breakfast with Brands TM events in Moncton and Halifax presented by BDC, and the opportunity to make important new supply chain connections for your business! Check out the video for highlights of our last event.

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