Leveraging Niche Online Networks for Procurement Professionals

Procurement Week 2015 will cover off a range of procurement issues, from public service innovation, retention and recruitment, to supplier relationships in the private sphere.

While these topics are important in their own right, there’s a common, and perhaps unseen, thread across the board – the power of relationships. The ability to build strong relationships with suppliers, clients and stakeholders can contribute to success within public service innovation, recruitment and the list goes on.

So how can procurement professionals create these sound relationships? Especially when you consider the fact that procurement is a global profession.

How can you liaise with stakeholders on the other side of the world? How do you find them and then stay on their radar?

The solution lies, as do many things in the modern day, online. A growing amount of procurement professionals are tapping into online platforms to help build these global relationships.

But what are these online platforms? They aren’t just the usual culprits of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Now there’s a new wave of social media which is tailored to professionals in specific industries - the niche online business network.

Think LinkedIn but for a particular profession. For example, GitHub is aimed at software engineers, Doximity, Sermo and Healthtap for doctors and Spiceworks for IT administrators. And for the logistics, procurement and supply chain profession, there’s Procurious. These niche platforms offer similar functions to a social network but also much more, including the following three benefits:

Global networking

It’s no secret the logistics, procurement and supply chain profession is global in nature and these niche networks allow procurers, buyers and suppliers to network with people from all corners of the globe. For instance, Procurious boasts members from over 70 countries. With the UK and USA driving membership numbers, the online space is no doubt a key channel for establishing business relationships with professionals from some of the world’s largest economies. For those interested in other industries too, there’s a staggering six million users registered on GitHub, five million on Spiceworks and ten million on Academia for academics from all pockets of the globe – now that’s networking.

A sense of community

The difference between a niche online network and LinkedIn is that it provides a real sense of community for members. Research conducted on behalf of Procurious revealed that the profession feels disconnected and like outsiders on LinkedIn – it’s too broad. Enter niche online networks. With functions such as networking capabilities, industry specific news and discussion forums, these platforms create focused global communities. They provide opportunities for members to converse, network and share knowledge with like-minded peers across the globe.

Tailored learning

Niche online networks are also hubs of knowledge which can be useful when fostering relationships with several stakeholders. For example, if procurement professionals want to do business in new locations or with a new supplier, they’ll need to understand their background, the market they play in and local industry issues. Sites such as Procurious offer discussions groups which can help you learn about another culture or industry’s way of doing business before entering the market.

Similarly, if you want to retain staff, helping them upskill with training programs – such as the bite-sized training videos on Procurious - can help them develop professionally and stick with the company. Think of these hubs as much more than networking, but as a knowledge centre which you can use to your advantage.

You might not be sold on online niche networks, but the reality is your competitors, peers, customers and suppliers are likely to have already joined the party. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Supply Management revealed that almost four out of five purchasers would use social networking sites specifically aimed at them . Whether you’re attending Procurement Week this year to learn about retaining and recruiting staff, partnering with suppliers to deliver the latest innovations or tapping into the public service sphere, incorporating online platforms as part of your strategy can help get you there.

 

Author: Tania Seary, Procurious

Date: 18th March 2015

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