See and Be Seen: Making that Lasting Connection
by Yanina Rosario | May 22, 2019
The Tampa Bay area is fortunate to have a vibrant business community and support from public and private organizations. Recently I attended the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council (FSMSDC) monthly minority business meeting where representatives from the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, American Airlines, Florida Turnpike and Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority spoke to vendors and small business owners about considerations they take when beginning new projects.
As I sat there and listened to these representatives, I began to realize how our area continues to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
These representatives touched on specific criteria they look for when seeking out businesses they procure for projects and how to successfully connect with them when businesses are interested in bidding.
Attending an event like this is the first important step a business owner can take in order to gain the attention of these big entities. A lot of times there can be a huge benefit to who you know and name recognition. Several buyers in the room mentioned they recognized faces in the audience as local businesses that started their business relationship with vendors by simply attending similar events and following up after.
It doesn’t take much to make an impression when networking. Here are six things you should keep in mind while attending an event:
- Work on your pitch. Everyone at the event had 30 seconds to make an introduction and had an opportunity to convey exactly what he or she and their company brought to the table.
- Create interesting business materials. Whether it is business cards, white papers, or brochures, the marketing material you bring must clearly communicate what you do.
- Listen to what others say. This can be an opportunity to network with vendors and small businesses that can turn into great beneficial partnerships or business relationships.
- Listen to what corporate/government reps say. These representatives clearly state their upcoming opportunities; therefore, you can position yourself as a solution provider based on the information shared.
- Know your codes. Whether it be NAICS or Commodity Codes, make sure to have the right ones for your business. Being a generalist (choosing too many codes), may reflect poorly on you as a business that tries to do it all, instead of being great in one or two areas of service.
- Follow up. Opportunities like these facilitate connecting with the correct people. Follow up with them to further develop your relationship with them.
Attending events that seek out potential opportunities are investments you make for you and your business. Attend them regularly and be seen, memorable, a problem-solver, and make those connections meaningful.
Associate Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa
Specialty: Women/Minority/Veteran Certification
Yanina Rosario, Florida SBDC at USF associate director and certified business consultant, specializes in business certifications, business planning, and marketing. She oversees operations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Rosario’s expertise comes from more than 16 years of guiding pre-venture and well-established business owners through procurement, licensing, planning, marketing and financing, helping clients secure more than $3.2 million in small business loans. Rosario serves on the board of directors for the CareerSource Tampa Bay, is a member of the City of Tampa Equal Business Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) planning committee. She manages the Florida SBDC at USF’s Emergency Bridge Loan Committee. Rosario obtained a bachelor degree in marketing from the University of Central Florida and a masters in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.