OK, so here is the ultimate guide to How to Successfully Network in the Wedding Industry! I say ultimate with a pinch of salt because there’s only one real bit of advice to give, and that’s, get out there and start talking! That’s all folks, it’s really that simple!
Collaboration, referrals, industry insights, business guidance, and so on, it’s all there staring you in the face and ready to help you grow, you just have to take action.
Anyway, so here’s a little guidance for those that may find the whole experience or idea of wedding supplier networking a little over whelming.
The hard truth about networking for your wedding business is that it’s not about tallying up your social media followers and hiding in front of the laptop, thinking it’s OK that you’ve liked a few posts and commented on a few instagram profiles! That’s all well and good and part of the process, social engagement is a great tool, but actually meeting with people is where the magic happens and there’s so much to learn and plenty of opportunities from other people.
The better the quality of your network, the better the quality of the leads you will find for your businessRob Nelson 🙂
So, step one! get out there!
Getting out there is really tough if you are not that great at talking to people, remember, it’s your business and you are responsible for it’s growth. There are lots of ways to meet wedding suppliers, firstly, reach out to local venues and see if they are hosting a wedding networking event, if not, then try and reach out to a few local suppliers and see if you can arrange a coffee morning. There are events on eventbrite all the time, so take a look there. Attend local wedding fairs and conferences and start talking to people because talking to people means opportunity!
Step two, open up!
Be yourself and stand tall about your wedding business, don’t compare your business to others because we are all different and at different stages. That fact that you are out there and building your business is amazing, so be proud of your achievements so far, and start putting yourself in front of other wedding suppliers. Try not to stand on the side lines and just listen to everyone else talking, introduce yourself and your business, but don’t sell, contribute to conversation, ask questions and remember to share in return. Networking is all about openness and sharing. A little top tip is to be human, and talk about personal things too, talk about your kids, your wife and the pets and remember to open up. people love to learn more about people and when you find a common ground with them it’s even easier to network with them in the future.
Step three, you ain’t selling!
It’s a networking event not a sales event! Wedding suppliers are not there to be sold to, they are there to share, to find new opportunities, to make new business relationships and to make new wedding supplier friends. Back to step two, stand tall about your wedding business and tell people what you do by all means, but do not try and sell anything. Even though you are essentially marketing yourself, be human and not that sales guy!
Step four, swap business cards and follow up!
Following up on all the new connections that you make is a big one! It’s easy to just say hi and introduce yourself without even leaving a business card. I see it all the time where suppliers turn up and forget to bring a basic business card. I know we live in the connected world but we don’t always have internet, so a good old fashioned business card is a sure way to get your contact details in front of people. Once you have swapped cards follow up! A simple message or email with Hey, remember me at the event last week, it was great to meet you… a short reminder is the best way to prompt them you are there.
So, who should you start talking to?
9 times out of 10 you won’t really know who’s there at an event unless it’s a large networking event or a wedding fair where everyone is listed before hand. Some organisers might hand out a who’s who email a few days before but it’s doesn’t happen too often. My advice is to find events that are local to your business and have a list of local business that you would most love to chat with. Wedding fairs are your best bet if you really want to speak with a specific supplier and they happen to be exhibiting.
Here’s a few ideas for getting you talking?
- Introduce yourself first before asking what other suppliers do
- Try and ask what areas they cover or where they are from, is the venue local to them
- Everyone will ask how your business is doing? Be honest and open up, everyone is looking for opportunity and they might be able to help with referrals or offer to collaborate
- See how long the supplier has been established, if they have been in the game for a while they may have quite a network already, so they could be good for you
- Just because someone is just starting out, don’t discount them. If you are more experienced than them they can assist you and help out with other tasks, give people a chance as it’s good for the industry too
- See if they have a similar style to you, this can be a great way to get on the same common ground
- Find out if they compliment your business, for example you might need to refer a wedding videographer to seal a deal with a new booking. Couples love it if you have worked with another supplier. even better if you have a similar style
- Ask how they are finding the event
- If you are looking to network with a specific supplier type then ask if there are any here.
How to start your business relationship with another wedding supplier?
So, you have a few new contacts and you felt that you got on really well with them, but you don’t know what to do next. Well, the best thing is to go back to step four, follow up.
You can do a number of things but don’t get creepy! Sending a box of chocolates might sound nice but you are not dating them, it’s business! Send them a simple email and introduce yourself again. Remind them where you met and what it is that you do. Tell them your intent such as creating a styled shoot or collaborating on a project or a blog post together and then let them know that you are up for meeting up again. Don’t forget to add your Wed Link suppliers page or eCard link with all your socials in one place and sign off the message.
You can also follow up by following them on social media sites and if you are new to each other go back to the good old social engagement tool and slowly build the relationship, stay casually connected and be consistent when engaging with them, don’t be a wedding pro stalker!
Seriously, don’t worry if they don’t respond, everyone is busy and if it’s at a weekend the chances are they are at a wedding. They will comeback to you for sure, but the most important part is following up.