Astra WBENC Workshops, EXPO and Matchmaker, Seattle September 13, 2012 – Being Smart Out Loud

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WBEs from across the USA & Canada, corporate & agency representatives joined Astra in Seattle on September 13th, 2012, for a jam-packed day that included workshops, an EXPO of WBEs, and an afternoon of matchmaking.

Astra WBE, Fran Zone of Zone Communications kicked off the day by warming everyone up with her stories & interactive exercises.  She shared her secrets of being Smart Out Loud by explaining that in a world of short attention spans and brief encounters, standing out from the pack requires the ability to be Smart Out Loud in real time. Being Smart Out Loud means knowing the right thing to say, when to say it, how to say it, and how to turn every interaction into an opportunity. Remember to carry yourself not your stuff; stand up straight and take off five pounds; and focus on drawing attention to your eyes with color & objects. Check out Read My Pins by one of Fran’s favorite people, Madeleine Albright.

Following Fran, the workshops continued with 2 interactive panels.  First up, a panel of supplier diversity leaders from private and public companies shared their insights and best practices for company introductions. WBEs were engaged and had fun with this interactive session. Participants prepared and delivered their pitch messages to the panel and received ratings as well as valuable feedback from the panel.  The panel was moderated by Astra’s own Diane McClelland and the panelists: Diane Lin, Starbucks; Kenyon Taylor, GSA;Veronica Kammler, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District; Lucy Leu, U.S. Navy – Naval Supply Systems – Command – Fleet Logistics Center – Puget Sound.)

The second panel covered Women in Construction. Moderated by Holli Dorr of Hollister Construction, the panelists gave WBEs insight into winning contracts in both the public & private sectors. Panelists: Mel Jones, Skanska USA; Ida Booker, The Boeing Company; Marc Sauze, Stantec; Roxie Schescke, Indian Eyes, LLC; and Eric Maughan, North Wind Group.

Guests at lunch were entertained by Paul Taylor, Taylor Global Law and a member of Astra’s Global Committee who shared best practices and current opportunities for expanding business globally.

Following lunch all WBEs participated in the afternoon matchmaking – “roundtable style”. This new format (v. short 1-to-1 interviews) was used to promote not only interaction between WBEs and Corporate/Agency representatives but also to promote WBE to WBE networking. In the past,  1-to-1 sessions tend to be rushed and tense. Access is limted and this creates an air of exclusivity as well as a huge undertaking by resource scarce WBE advocates who typically meet with a new company every 6-10 minutes. In Seattle, each Roundtable was co-hosted by a trained facilitator & corporate/agency representative who introduced themselves & shared their organization’s information. Table assignments were made based on sourcing requests from the advocates, industry groups and potential teaming opportunities amongst WBEs. Each WBE at the table took turns giving their pitch, sharing their marketing materials and receiving feedback from not only the table hosts but also the WBEs. Using this format created a positive atmosphere of access, cooperation and support.   Here is how one WBE summed it up:

“I loved the 25 minutes roundtable discussions!  It was a great opportunity to learn about our corporate host but perhaps more importantly, we learned about our fellow WBEs.  At our first table there were several opportunities between WBEs that we would never have known about had the matchmaker sessions been one on one. Thank you ASTRA!!” Sandy Dupleich, Dynamic Language

More feedback from attendees:

  • “Wonderful! I would attend again in a heartbeat!” Jodie Landes, Arcus Communications
  • “The contacts and strategies developed at Astra events are incredibly valuable and transformational!” Sharon Root, Computer Magic Training
  • “I always take away something new from Astra’s events.  It’s wonderful to network with other women business owners and build our relationships.” Renee Fink,  ClearPath Management Group, Inc.
  • “Another great opportunity to connect with dynamic people making the most of shared opportunities.” Sandy Hunter, Hunter Hawk, Inc.
  • “The conference exceeded my expectations, I came away with several ideas and contact.” Bibby Gignilliat, Parties That Cook
  • “This was an outstanding event that provided immediate information I could use in growing my business.” Amanda Grindle, Muir Contracting, Inc.
  • “This conference provided us an opportunity to meet and speak with so many individuals that benefited us both professionally and personally.  The format provided a warm, friendly and supportive atmosphere – completely conducive to learning and building relationships.” Karen Gildea, Amick Brown
  • “Having attended numerous small and large business events over the years, yours was by far one of the very best.  The contacts and content were very much applicable to our business.  I am looking forward to the next one!.”  Kathryn Townsend, West Sound Workforce

Didn’t make it to Seattle? Check out the program below.

Open publication

Astra Annual Matchmaker & EXPO

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Preparing for Matchmaker Meetings

Matchmaker meetings are the opportunity to sit down face-to-face with a company or agencies representative and pitch your company. Meetings times can vary depending on the format of the event. Typically plan to spend 3  to 10 minutes introducing yourself and your compare. Here are some key points to remember:

Be prepared. Follow instructions & respect the format of the event. Be on time.

Be prepared. Respect the organization’s process. Fill out  the online databases. (Hint: Search the company’s website for suppliers/ how to do business.)

Be prepared. Reach out to other WBEs who have contracts with the company. (Track awards, articles, and success stories.)

Be prepared. Find out who in the company buys your products & services. (Who is your ideal buyer?)

Be prepared. Practice your elevator speech. Be confident. Differentiate your self. (Smile.)

Be prepared. Provide a capabilities statement as a leave behind. Confirm next steps. Start to build a relationship. (When will I see you again?)

Resources for matchmaker prep:

1. August 2011 Astra Matchmaker Prep Webinar – Slidedeck

2. 2011 WBENC Conference Preparation Series