How to Get the Most from your SIG Event - Part II: Questions to Spur Conversations

In my last post, I provided some tips for networking. I actually enjoy networking, but I know many who think of it in the same way that others think of public speaking...they are scared to death to do it. They'd rather find the one person in the crowd that they know than to seek out new connections. At SIG Summits, which attract 350-450 people, we try to make it easy to network by putting a special sticker on the nametags of first-time attendees. At the first General Session we explain the sticker and encourage everyone to "introduce themselves to the cowboy boots" (for example, since a cowboy boot sticker was the chosen icon for the last Summit in Fort Worth, Texas). It takes a lot of the pain out of the process for those who don't enjoy seeking people out and is an instant conversation starter. But if you are in a situation without your "cowboy boots," (and/or if you are a network-a-phobe like so many), perhaps some of these questions can be helpful to you. I use them when first meeting a fellow Sourcing professional.

  • Who do you report to?
  • What is your role within sourcing? Are you procurement operations or contract/supplier management?
  • How much of your spend is under management?
  • Do you work within a mandate?
  • Do you outsource any procurement functions?
  • Are you exploring or have you implemented shared services?
  • What do you consider complex categories?
  • What are your top three major spend categories, in terms of exposure and value?
  • What technologies do you use for Procurement?
  • Do you use a managed service provider (MSP)?
  • How are your relationships with all the business units?
  • Do you still have annual savings goals?
  • Do you have any BPO activity?
  • Where do you outsource to? Why?
  • Have you ever taken any outsourcing back in house?
  • How do you "market" the procurement activities to other parts of the company?

If you have just a few questions in your back pocket, you'll find that the conversation is easy. You can do a lot of stealth benchmarking and develop great connections in the process. And who knows, maybe with a little practice, you'll decide you like networking after all. SIG is a firm believer in sharing best if you have some questions you use as conversation starters, we would love for you to post them! Next in this series: Building a Program Schedule and Constructing Take-aways

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Mary has over 20 years of experience in information technology and over 15 years of experience in sourcing. Mary's responsibilities as SIG include sourcing and developing content for SIG's Global Summits, researching and developing content for the SIG Resource Center (SRC), serving as a member of the SRC Thought Leaders Council and their respective working groups, managing SIG's Peer2Peer member discussions, conducting benchmarking activities, and contributing to original SIG content through newsletter and blog entries.