The MOMENTUM is palpable within the WBENC network as we approach the largest event of its kind – the 2023 National Conference in just over a month’s time!
This feature article from CSS Building Services CEO, Bernadette Milito, one of our 2023 WBENC Conference Co-Chairs, offers incredible advice and guidance on how to be a Dynamic, Nimble and Robust WBE. Read on!
Answers are simple. Work is hard.
Everyone wants simple answers. Unfortunately, tough challenges typically defy simplicity. Becoming a dynamic, nimble, and robust WBE seems like one of the toughest challenges around. Fortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, the principles underlying dynamic, nimble, and robust companies are actually very simple and easy to learn. The difficulty, however, lies in executing those principles diligently, relentlessly, and honorably.
Dynamic, nimble, robust WBEs are made, not born. It takes extraordinary tenacity, grit, flexibility, and humility. But determination alone isn’t enough. So, here is a very brief primer on some of the basics to help you succeed. FYI, these are in no particular order, as they all matter equally.
Networking: A Noun. A Verb. An Absolute Essential
Cold call? Mailings? Leave behinds? Those days are gone. Today marketing and business development means in-person networking. It isn’t another thing; it’s the only thing. And in case I haven’t made myself clear, IN-PERSON MARKETING IS EVERYTHING. That means talking to people about who you are and what you do. And that leads to two areas of vital development.
First, know thyself. You must know who you are and what you do. And you must be able to describe your business quickly, precisely, engagingly, and truthfully. Know your strengths and limitations and tell and sell what you do without exaggeration or misrepresentation. Never, repeat, never make promises you can’t keep. But boldly commit to ones you can, and then be prepared to back them up. If you’re not sure about something, say so, and promise to get back to them about it. And always, always be honest.
Next, what matters is who you talk to. That’s where WBENC and organizations like it prove invaluable. You need to talk to women and men who can hire you. That means CEOs, CFOs, CDOs, COOs, supplier diversity and procurement executives. How do you meet those people? You don’t, unless you actively participate in organizations like WBENC. They provide access that nothing else can. WBENC helped us grow by leaps and bounds by connecting us to the right people we needed to meet. So, use WBENC, a lot. And when you meet C-suite dwellers and their executives, follow up. And then follow up again. And again. And one more time. Not following up with a contact is the same as never meeting them.
Communication, Structure, and a See-Through House
Those may look like three different elements; they’re not. They are one. Dynamic, nimble, and robust WBEs thrive through enterprise-wide effective communication at and to all levels; an integrative open-door, unrestricted structure, and complete transparency. Everyone in the organization knows what’s going on, why, and how best to serve the company’s interests. Why is this triumvirate so important?
It’s the only way to organically grow, retain good people, and succeed honorably. But there’s another reason: curve balls. Curve balls happen all of the time. Markets dive. Disasters strike. Expectations get thwarted. And you find yourself dealing with something completely unexpected. Anyone have global pandemic on their corporate expectations bingo card in 2018? So, how adaptable are you and your firm? If the answer is not very, well, how many businesses didn’t survive the pandemic? Adaptability is neither a lofty goal nor a nice luxury. It’s essential. And that’s where these three elements save you.
If you have a rigid top-down organizational structure, the powers at the top may never hear about a problem until it’s too late. And the reverse is true. A frontline worker may be exposed to a wholly unique, invaluable opportunity and not know how to act on it. Without access to the top, that opportunity is gone. Naturally, communication and transparency complement and support organizational structure. That’s why these three elements are one and absolutely essential.
Everyone fails. Failure itself is completely unimportant, except for the lessons it provides. What matters most is what you do after you fail. And there’s only one answer for that. Pick yourself up. Reinvent yourself. Start over. In fact, you should prepare to fail so that when you do you’re ready for it. Failure is never a reason for punishment or embarrassment. It is and will always be a learning opportunity. Use it as such.
Everyone wants simple answers. But they’re not enough. Answers need execution and follow up. So, take these principles and go to town. But don’t expect to just implement them, sit back, and wait for the business to come rolling in. It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to work these principals. Imbed them in your DNA until they’re second nature. And then work them harder. The answers are simple. It’s the work that’s hard.