Landing a large client can have a huge impact on your company’s growth and success. In fact, small suppliers reported average revenue growth of 266.4% within two years after their first sale to a large corporation, according to a survey by the Center for an Urban Future. The name recognition and credibility of major clients is a key driver of this growth, as it can lead to more contracts.

As a diverse supplier, you may face challenges in making crucial connections with large companies that can lead to business deals. Competition is fierce, and you may be unfamiliar with how corporations work and the best ways to get on their radar. However, landing a large customer is not an impossible task — corporations are already spending billions of dollars with diverse suppliers.

Finding Opportunities

Fortunately, you can take advantage of resources that are specially designed to help you connect with major enterprises.

Supplier diversity programs 

Supplier diversity programs help organizations include a variety of companies in their supply chains — a practice that helps give companies a competitive advantage and other benefits, such as:

Organizations use inclusion programs to create clearly defined targets for the amount of business that should go to diverse companies, including those owned by people of color, women, LGBTQ, and veterans. This means that companies with diversity programs are specifically searching for suppliers like you.

Tier 2 contracts

When you think of doing business with large companies, you may picture providing your products or services directly to the company. This is known as a Tier 1 contract. However, Tier 2 contracts — in which a supplier provides products or services to Tier 1 suppliers — can offer many opportunities.

Often, companies set diversity targets for Tier 2 suppliers as well as Tier 1 suppliers, so Tier 1 connections should not be overlooked. They can be key in helping you get to the next level and becoming a vendor for big business.

Keys to connecting with big buyers and suppliers

Here are some tips for connecting with big businesses and Tier 1 suppliers. Keep in mind that large enterprises often move slowly, so give your efforts time. Persistence and patience can really pay off! 

Get certified as a diverse-owned business

Diverse business certification can make you eligible for opportunities with larger companies that are seeking to diversify their supply chains. You can use certification to prove that your company is legitimately diverse-owned and to differentiate you from the competition. And certifying agencies often offer extra benefits and support, including learning resources, networking events, and mentoring programs that can help you better prepare to connect with big customers.

Tap into technology

Technology can make connecting with potential clients easier than ever before. Online business tools that suppliers can use to connect with large companies include:

  • LinkedIn
  • Diverse supplier organizations, such as
    • The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
    • The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)
    • The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)
  • Corporate vendor portals where suppliers can register with companies they’d like to work with

Platforms such as Hire Ground can directly connect you with corporate buyers and Tier 1 suppliers specifically seeking diverse vendors. Hire Ground provides a one-stop-shop that finds inclusion opportunities that would be a great fit for you and allows you to communicate directly with potential customers and submit proposals via an easy-to-use interface. The platform also offers the chance to network and team up with other diverse suppliers.

Network, network, network

Networking face to face is still a crucial part of making connections with large companies. Opportunities abound, ranging from industry conferences to trade fairs, networking events, and “open call” events in which big companies invite suppliers to make their pitches. You can make face-to-face networking more efficient and effective by creating a plan of action ahead of time, including targeting specific people that you want to make sure you meet. 

Prepare for success

Knowing where to look for companies that need suppliers is one part of making valuable connections. Being prepared to impress those companies is another. Here are some ways you can make sure that the first impression leads to greater things.

Do your homework

Before you approach potential customers, do your research. Is the company looking for diverse suppliers? What are their needs? What can you offer them? Approaching any contact with answers to these questions will put you ahead of the game in making meaningful connections. 

Make sure you can deliver

Asking questions about your own company can also help you be prepared for a big client. Make sure you know how much business you can handle and that you have the processes in place to take on large customers.

Polish your pitch

Can you concisely communicate what your company has to offer potential clients? If not, you’d better work on your elevator pitch. You should be able to quickly show what makes your company special — and how you can solve customer problems — in any situation.

Key to the future

Connections are crucial to prosperity and growth. As a small diverse owned supplier, it’s up to you to create those essential relationships. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help your company connect with the kinds of customers that can keep your business thriving.