With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in much of the U.S. feels like the exhaled breath from holding it a little too long. Last June feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago. Since last year Black owned banks have received millions in capital. Retail brands, banks and tech companies are just a few industries others made commitments to invest in Black business owners and Black communities. Diverse owned businesses can actually celebrate Pride and Juneteenth this month collectively and safely. The results of these shifts are still on the horizon but the focus is encouraging for diversity, equity and inclusion professionals.
Those commitments, coupled with increasing vaccination rates have also created more openings for diverse owned suppliers who want to connect with supplier diversity programs and resources. Certification organizations are committing to in person events in 2022, and some as early as this Fall. Business owners who have been missing the networking and connections from in person events are eager to take advantage.
With the “opening up” as a background for the conversation, I recently gave a webinar for the newly branded WBEC DMV and one of the questions I got was not if people should reach out, but how often.
I find that my clients and newly certified businesses don’t have a problem with the first contact. They send off their intro, a beautiful capability statement*….and wait.
It’s often the follow up that provides the most opportunity for connection and differentiation but how much to follow up? And how often?!
One thing I know is that there is no strict rule but if you keep the 3Cs in mind, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of being too persistent or not persistent enough. Last year’s 3Cs were cash, community and connections but as we move to the next normal, I have the next set of Cs for diverse owned businesses:
- Cause: Ok you’re reaching out to a new business development prospect. Why now? Is there a reason that the solution is relevant now? How would you even know? In our Diversity Masterminds® class, my business partner Heather and I talk about the value of doing your market research. Read the annual reports. Set a google alert for your prospects. WBENC is having a virtual event this month where the participating corporations have indicated where their immediate sourcing needs are. When you can point to a concrete reason or need that they have, you can start with a better conversation.
- Content: The cause is going to determine your content. Are you just keeping them in the loop? Are you asking for a next step -an intro a demo? Maybe you’re just sharing a kudos or congrats. If you have a good reason for reaching out, the content does not have to be sales, sales, sales. But if they have a problem and you can offer a solution, even better.
- Calendar: There’s no hard and fast rule about how often to reach out but if you follow the first two tips, you’ll be ahead of the game. I say that no one can be mad about an email every 6 weeks. But if you have no reason to reach out and you’re just checking in, or going over someone’s head or, horror of horrors, whining about not getting a response it won’t matter how many or few emails you send, you’re going to stand out – and not in a good way.
*4. A bonus “C” is your capability statement. This is a one page document that showcases your company, your core capabilities, your differentiators, and your past performance. If you think yours needs a refresh, you are not alone. It’s one of our most popular offerings at Diversity Masterminds®.
As you make your marketing plan for this next phase of the post pandemic, keep these tips in mind to keep you on track so you can enjoy your summer. I’ll be heading off for my self-care summer in a few days. I’ll still be working, just changing venues. Hope you are able to do the same!