Weekly Insights: Building Effective Relationships with Suppliers

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One of the recent weekly TSNN ExpoChat sessions focused on “Unpacking Supplier Relationships: What’s Working, What’s Not?” (You can read the entire chat transcript here.)

The discussion began by defining what makes a good supplier/client relationship, and how the overall perspective needs to evolve from viewing them as mere ‘suppliers’ or ‘vendors’ to becoming partners in the event’s success. (Here’s a helpful article on how to distinguish between a one-off vendor and a strategic supplier relationship.) Sure, sometimes you just need a company to fill a quick, one-time need (last-minute printing, for example). But when they’re a key part of the overall event, they need to be a part of the strategic planning.

But how do you create that kind of a partner relationship? This article from the Balance Small Business covers eight tips, including (with my trade show-specific take added):

  • Sharing information and priorities (Don’t leave your suppliers in the dark about the various aspects of your show – they might have insights or resources to share, even if it’s not something directly related to what they provide.)
  • Build partnerships for the long term (If you’re constantly hopping from one supplier to another, there’s no opportunity to create these strategic relationships.)
  • Seek to understand their business too (Make it a two-way street. Don’t constantly pressure them to cut costs – focus on adding value.)

So how have you worked with your suppliers to create a successful partnership to improve your event for everyone involved? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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