By Maribel Roldán and Joaquín Rodríguez
November 2000 - In recent years, mergermania has reshaped the telecommunications industry. MediaOne is now part of AT&T. Qwest Communications has taken over US WEST. In one cross-country marriage, GTE on the West Coast and Bell Atlantic on the East Coast joined to form Verizon Communications.
To attract minority vendors, most of these telecommunications giants have supplier diversity programs that conduct outreach to minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-owned, and disabled veteran-owned businesses. They attend or participate in regional minority supplier development councils, trade fairs, business opportunity fairs, and telecommunications industry meetings.
Companies such as AT&T, Sprint, and WorldCom have extended their outreach efforts onto the Internet. In addition to their corporate Web sites, they have pages dedicated to their supplier diversity departments. Such sites assist contractors interested in becoming part of the company's supplier database.
The range of products and services needed by telecommunications companies is enormous – computer hardware, electronic components, cable, language media services, consultants and contractors, office supplies and equipment, real estate operations, and transportation, for example. Every company has its own procurement procedures, but those with well-established Web sites follow basic protocols. First, potential suppliers must meet the company's requirements. For evaluation of your business and its products or services, you must complete the Supplier Qualification Form/Supplier Certification Form, available online or via regular mail. After your form is reviewed, or when an opportunity arises, representatives of the supplier diversity program contact you for further information. Your business references are checked, and interviews, plant visits, or other procedures may follow, depending on the company.
Some companies encourage competition among suppliers by maintaining a database of businesses in various service/product areas. Potential suppliers are sent a formal notice known as an RFP (request for proposal) and are given an opportunity to submit bids for specific projects.
But the first step to becoming a telecommunications supplier is to pick up the telephone and contact those corporations that could use your products or services.
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