The email chain of shame and 5 better ways to do business

One lesson from Delaware Innovation Week 2018? Yes, there is such a thing as being *too* persistent, say these big business reps.

J’nelle Lawrence, Loren Hopkins-Taylor, L. Jay Burks and Peggy DelFabbro discuss business dos and don'ts. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

The lineup of execs on Tuesday’s Big Business panel at the Delaware Innovation Week Biz Conference agreed that, while persistence is good, there’s a point where not giving up on a potential big client starts to become… a bit much.

“Perseverance doesn’t mean being a crazy stalker,” said Wendy Mann-Flores, Diverse Business Empowerment executive for Exelon Companies. “Once a month or even once a quarter is enough.”

You probably will get a response, eventually, but, as moderator Michelle Morin, Executive Director of the State of Delaware Office of Supplier Diversity pointed out, it’s probably just to get you to stop.

So yeah, relentlessly emailing a potential client just hoping to be noticed is not a good strategy.

But if you’re interested in getting a big company like Exelon (the parent of Delmarva Power and Philly’s PECO), DuPont, or Comcast to do business with you, what’s the playbook?

Big companies need contractors of all sizes, and they look for local small businesses and diverse suppliers whenever possible. Here are five things you can do to get the good kind of attention from big business:

  1. When networking, “ask for their preferred method of communication,” said J’nelle Lawrence, Supplier Diversity/Learning & Development Lead for The Chemours Company. “And wait a few days [after a networking event] before contacting me,” so your message doesn’t get lost in the avalanche of emails immediately after the event.
  2. “Research the company you want to do business with as if you’re applying for a job,” said Loren Hopkins-Taylor, Sourcing Manager for Small Business and Supplier Diversity for the DuPont Company.
  3. “We look for companies that share our values,” said Dr. L. Jay Burks, Supplier Diversity Director of Comcast. “[Comcast’s] values include diversity and inclusion.” So, if that applies to your business, don’t be afraid to be open about it.
  4. “Suggest a different solution,” said Peggy DelFabbro, CEO of M. Davis & Sons. “A promotional products vendor once suggested an online store, which ended up solving a lot of problems for us.”
  5. And here’s a tactical tip from Hopkins-Taylor: “A woman I met at an event asked to take a picture with me — then attached it as a reminder that we had met in an email. I instantly remembered who she was.”

For more tips on landing big business contracts, read about the supply chain gaps that large corporations are looking to close.

Companies: Comcast / DuPont

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