Many small businesses owned by minorities, women and veterans have limited opportunities to network with larger corporations. This barrier can prevent owners from taking their enterprises to the next level.
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is sponsoring an event aimed at connecting local businesspeople with large professional organizations. “Match Maker Networking” will be held Thursday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Business owners will meet professionals who make purchasing decisions for the Medical Campus and itspartners. The free program also features a pre-event webinar at 10 a.m. hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Registration for the networking event can be made here.
Attendees participate in 10 minute one-on-one meetings with purchasing executives from the University at Buffalo, Kaleida Health, Roswell Park and other BNMC partners such as M&T Bank.
Marc Pope, community projects manager for the Medical Campus, said small businesses typically struggle as they try to expand and network larger entities.
“There’s no secret that there’s underrepresentation in minority- and women-owned businesses as well as service disabled veteran owned businesses,” Pope told WBFO. “This is why we have to have state and federal laws to protect these enterprises and making sure they get a fair share at doing business with not only these corporations, but any corporation.”
Pope said it can be daunting for small businesses to compete with large corporations. Often times, a specialty is needed to separate their business from the competition. Events such as Small Business Saturday encourage shopping locally, but Pope said networking is also critical to expansions.
“A lot of times when people spend money, it’s due to relationships,” Pope said. “So if I can get you at least 10 minutes in front of a person at an organization, you’re more likely to receive at least one purchase order than you would have prior to the event.”
Networking events can also allow companies to showcase special products or services.
Of course, fostering a relationship with a much larger enterprise also means that businesses must be prepared to handle an increased demand for products or services.
“The main issue comes down to capacity and capital, and being able to manage those situations when you’re talking about dealing with a large corporation,” Pope said. “Do you have the scale to supply a large institution’s needs? Once that relationship grows, the doors open to doing other businesses and purchase orders, and spending money.”
A similar networking event was staged last September and attracted nearly 70 participants.
Pope is part of a procurement council that meets monthly at the Medical Campus. Institutions are encouraged to share success stories after working with a new vendor or partner. Pope said this can lead to other institutions wanting to do business with a successful vendor.