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How to Navigate Supplier Diversity at Twitter

Chelsea Sassara

How to navigate supplier diversity at Twitter


Twitter is one of the most used social media platforms in the world with roughly 186 million active monthly users. Beyond its global reach, though, Twitter is a relatively small company with just over 5,200 employees.


While Twitter might be “small” in relation to other enterprise-level corporations, it continues to grow and make a splash in the competitive field that is social media.


One of those areas of growth includes its supplier diversity program which began in 2019.


As a certified women-owned business, VMG Studios has learned the inner workings of various supplier diversity programs, and while we haven’t landed a contract with Twitter, we have been lucky enough to meet with the group at Twitter in the past and have since built a working relationship with the Global Supplier Inclusion and Diversity Manager, Kristen Hickey.


We decided to sit down with Hickey to learn more about the program including how suppliers can stand out and make a lasting impression.


Tips for securing a meeting with Twitter 

As with any enterprise-level corporation, one of the biggest hurdles is simply securing that initial meeting. This is where those big conferences, hosted by diverse supplier organizations like The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), have been helpful in the past with connecting supplier diversity managers and potential vendors through matchmaker sessions.


However, since most of those big networking conferences have been canceled or are shifting to a virtual and digital model due to COVID-19, those opportunities have decreased drastically this year. Therefore, diverse suppliers need to be more proactive in getting those meetings.


So, how do you break through the noise at Twitter and secure that first meet-and-greet?


There are two communication channels Hickey suggests: email and Twitter itself.


Let’s start with email.


Hickey admits that she gets hundreds of emails per day. Despite this, she still prefers email over a phone call. With that, it’s important to be personal and direct in your messaging. “The email can’t look like a blast like it’s going to a bunch of different people, or like a newsletter,” Hickey said.


If you’re worried about your email getting lost in a sea of other requests, there is another route to take and that is sending a direct message (DM) to Hickey on Twitter. Amazingly, Hickey says she has never received a diverse supplier request on Twitter, even though she’s mentioned it in meetings with diverse suppliers before.


Since Hickey uses Twitter for personal use as well, it is important to be respectful when it comes to how much you reach out to her on the platform. You may be able to snag her initial attention through a DM on Twitter, and then shift to email moving forward. This is where Hickey provided another piece of advice, one that expands to most business relationships: ask your contact’s preferred method of communication upon that first interaction.


Hickey, who prefers email, says she’ll often provide even more specific details including when to follow-up with her. If a specific timeline isn’t brought up, she suggests that you don’t reach out more than once a month.


She also suggests finding other avenues to connect with people within Twitter. “Suppliers should be using every other tool, as well, like using LinkedIn to find the right people at companies they’re trying to sell for.”


How to make an impact upon securing a meeting with Twitter

If you are able to secure a meeting with Twitter, Hickey offered some simple, yet effective advice to help your business make a lasting impression. One of the biggest things she said all prospective suppliers need to remember is to be authentic to your own company values and mission.


“Figure out what you want your objectives to be as a company and don’t just morph your company into something you think a corporation wants or needs,” says Hickey.


Besides bringing authenticity to the table, here are some more tips for making a lasting impression.


1. Do your research and come prepared

While this may seem like an obvious piece of advice, it’s one that cannot be oversold. It’s important to not only research Twitter as a whole but to research who you’ll be meeting with and the roles they play within the company. As Hickey says, “It’s always important to know who your audience is and to speak directly to that audience.”


This is especially true when it comes to targeting specific groups within Twitter. If you know which buyer group you’d ideally like to partner with, you’ll need to understand their needs and goals to better identify how your business can support their efforts.


More broadly speaking, it’s beneficial to not only understand Twitter as a social media platform but to use it, too. If you’re going to support Twitter in some way, you should be using Twitter for your own business. This isn’t just about making a good impression on Twitter (which it does), but by using the platform, you’ll be able to gain more inside knowledge on what works or doesn’t work.


And here’s some more inside knowledge: if you’re in a meeting with Twitter, there’s a high probability that they will bring up your business’s Twitter account on the spot. In 2019, when VMG Studios met with people from Twitter, including Hickey, they pulled up our Twitter feed to ensure that we practiced what we preached and knew how to effectively use the platform to market and promote our own business.


Our Sales and Marketing Specialist, AJ Noel, who was in on that meeting said, “It shifted the tone of the meeting since they could see we were active users and our content aligned with their values.”


2. Provide value

Part of researching is figuring out how your business can best support Twitter with your products and/or services. While your product may be amazing, it’s important to determine how it’s amazing for Twitter.


Supplier diversity is a helpful avenue for making connections at any enterprise-level corporation, but it’s important to remember that it is just a stepping stone to securing a paying contract.


Hickey said it best: “We’ll get you invited to the dance, but you’re only asked to dance if you wow us.” She added that being a diverse supplier isn’t what will set you apart— it’s your product or service offerings. “It’s about having access to the greatest suppliers with the greatest innovation that will help Twitter drive its business in the right direction.”


This value is especially important to convey in a capabilities presentation, which is another way to help set your business apart from the competition.


3. Capabilities presentations

An organized and succinct way to outline your product or service offerings is through a capabilities presentation.


You can highlight your products/services, previous work, and your leadership team, all while showing off how your business can help support Twitter (aka the research you conducted prior to the meeting).


From an aesthetic perspective, Hickey says presentations that have stood out are ones that looked like Twitter – lots of white space with bold colors. Just like how Hickey prefers personalized emails, ones that don’t look like they were sent to a long list of people in different organizations, this shows dedication to understanding Twitter’s brand.


On the content side of things, relevant examples can really make a presentation stand out. This also brings it back around to the importance of researching and providing value. “The ones that are the most successful are ones that provide specific, relevant examples of how they’ve successfully completed projects that are similar to the projects we (Twitter) would have. They thought about Twitter and what challenges Twitter might have,” said Hickey.


Hickey also recommends leading with these examples or whatever value you’re providing that sets your company apart in these presentations.


She says you can also stand out by making a personal connection or surprising your audience in some way. One way to leave a lasting impression, and to help save time in meetings, is through an explainer video. Explainer videos allow you to condense a lot of information, such as the most frequently asked questions about your business, in just a couple of minutes. This allows for more time in a meeting to answer more specific, project-related questions and display your capabilities in other ways.


Moving forward with Twitter

People use Twitter to share information and ideas, create, and connect with one another and that’s the goal of its supplier diversity program as well. While the team may be small, it’s not only mighty but passionate about its mission.


Hickey, who has worked at other large companies in the past, said, “I have yet to meet a group of employees who are more excited about having a supplier diversity program than the employees at Twitter.”


Just like the employees of Twitter, it’s important to bring that passion and tenacity when meeting with members of Twitter’s supplier diversity program. That passion, along with being prepared, providing value, and outlining your company’s offerings in a capabilities presentation can help increase your chances of becoming a supplier for Twitter or, at the very least, build a lasting relationship with a great company.


Learn more about navigating supplier diversity at enterprise-level corporations here:

If you need help designing a capabilities presentation or want to produce an explainer video, VMG Studios is here to help. Click the image below to schedule an introductory planning call.

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Tags: Women-owned business, Diverse supplier, diverse-owned business, supplier diversity, Twitter, Twitter Supplier Diversity

Chelsea Sassara

Written by Chelsea Sassara

Chelsea Sassara is a Content Manager at VMG Studios. Chelsea is an Emmy award-winning journalist with a background in local TV news. She loves to write, her dog & cat, the Pacific Northwest, and the Oregon Ducks.

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