NMSDC Conference Review:  Part 1
By Jaymie White

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) Conference took place October 23rd through the 26th in Chicago, IL.  The conference was a jam packed four day networking event, including a trade fair, award show, workshops, and countless receptions.  From the McCormick Center to the Hyatt Regency, minority businesses traveled throughout the city connecting with large corporations.

The NMSDC Conference was “action packed” to say the least.  

For Part 1 of my conference review, I won’t go too in depth on any day or event, but instead I’ll focus on the affair as a whole.  Funny enough I actually missed all of the workshops as I was a member of the Emerging Young Entrepreneurs Program (EYE Program), sponsored by Metlife, NMSDC, Artech and McPherson Berry.

To begin, I want to congratulate the NMSDC on the completion of another successful conference.  It’s not easy putting together such a large event and every year, the organization manages to find sponsors and locations willing to support minority businesses from across the nation.  

The conference streamlined a ton of offerings to help minority owned organizations and corporations connect.  The first day focused on industry meetings.  From Automotive to Utilities, to Healthcare, Entertainment, and more, hundreds of corporations meet with one another to discuss opportunities within their field and listen to minority business presentations on supplier diversity focuses.  Getting into these meetings is a challenge for many minority owned firms but for the lucky few, the exposure is tremendous. 

The second day is the famous Business Opportunity Exchange, or the NMSDC trade fair.  It is the only time of the year where thousands of corporate employees gather with the sole purpose of connecting with minority owned businesses.  The trade fair included some of the biggest company names in the world (For a quick list of some of the companies in attendance check out the Exhibitor List HERE), and is the epicenter for minority business opportunities.  So much so that famous individuals such as Magic Johnson and Jesse Jackson are staples at the event.  In alot of instances, your business can connect with decision makers at top named companies.  For example, I was able to meet with the CPO of both PepsiCo and Metlife.  The NMSDC trade fair is easily the largest and most influential business fair for minority owned firms I’ve ever seen, and they do it every year (next year will be in my hometown of DETROIT!!).  It’s hard to describe exactly how big the event is, but hopefully a few pictures can do it justice.

The third day encompassed meetings and workshops aimed at helping entrepreneurs and corporate employees with business and personal development.  These workshops were led by experts in a number of fields focusing on improving one of the many facets of supplier diversity.  As a member of the EYE Program, I underwent a different type of business education, but I will dive deeper into that in another review.  The most crucial part of the workshops, and the event as a whole, is the networking opportunities.  You could be listening to an investor or purchasing agent describe to you the best way to catch their attention.  Not only that but you can reconnect with the individuals you met the day before, expanding your network further.

The fourth and final day was the Award Show.   With so many organizations taking home trophies, the big winner for Corporation of the Year went to IBM Corporation.  A member of the billion dollar round table, IBM has spent decades supporting and advocating for minority owned businesses.  Although the event starts off rewarding small and large businesses that have spent years within the supplier diversity space, there is time to network at the reception afterward for those interested.  The reception goes on for a few hours and allows organizations access to each other to finish off previous conversations.

In the end, the NMSDC Conference is top notch and a mandatory event for those looking to connect with big named corporations.  It’s no easy task to get a meeting with a billion dollar conglomerate but the NMSDC does an excellent job of opening the door for businesses that otherwise would have no idea how to get in front of them.

Opportunity is the key to success and the NMSDC is the best at providing opportunities for minority owned businesses.

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