Become a Good Leader

We spend a lot of time focusing on how to gain recognition as an industry leader, but it can be a lot more difficult to hone your skills as a leader within your business. The way you work with your team every day, the opportunities and nurturing you provide, and the environment you create all determine how satisfying your business culture is and what kind of talent you attract to your team. If you want to provide the best product and services delivered by the best in the business, you must start by becoming a good leader.

Characteristics of Good Leadership

The best leaders are concise, inspirational and collaborative. Where some leaders try to lead by intimidation, a good leader builds trust through strong communication, honesty and an open door policy. I try to be as approachable as possible, and have found that when people aren’t afraid of me, they are more open and sharing. The best ideas and biggest advances in business result from great collaborative relationships.

Build a Strong Culture

Having a great business culture is definitely the way to stand out among other businesses and feature your leadership skills to attract great talent to your team. Allow your business culture to shine through in your social media, but avoid singing your own praises. Be special enough that others will sing them for you. Such praise has more credibility when it originates outside of your organization.

Handle Challenges Gracefully

Your business should have a mission statement to which you can refer in tough times. Resort back to it whenever you need direction and have difficult decisions to make. This will help you avoid allowing emotions to take over your decision making process. Keep your mission statement in mind, and encourage your whole team to do the same, always. Doing so will keep your business on track.

Include Team Satisfaction as a Measure of Success

You can count your social media followers, engagement, review, bookings and awards as measures of your business’ success, but they shouldn’t be the only areas you focus on. Are your clients AND your employees happy? When everyone is happy, we trust that we are doing something right.

Productivity is Key

A team that achieves greatness together stays motivated together. Make efficiency and productivity priorities. Time mapping is so important – schedule appointments with yourself to ensure that everything stays on track. We try to do that across the board at Fantasy Sound, and have found that when we all do it, we are more productive overall.

Have Fun

Finally, remember that a team is made of more than talent – it is made of people. I keep my team motivated by treating them with respect, being flexible with their schedules, showing a genuine interest in their lives and by intentionally keep the office environment fun. A daily Sound Off meeting including as many games as possible keeps the mood light. When people have fun at work, they stay motivated.

A highly productive, effective and happy team starts with superior leadership. Make becoming a good leader one of your most important goals and enjoy the satisfaction that comes when a group of talented professionals works together to create great things.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

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Using Social Media to Market to LGBTQ Clients

The LGBTQ wedding market has been around much longer than marriage equality, but following the 2015 landmark legislation, it took off like few other market segments in the history of our industry. Engaged LGBTQ couples both need and want services from wedding professionals who understand and respect their relationships, and who are willing and able to market to their community.

Social media is key to promoting wedding businesses to nearly all couples, but it can be particularly useful in reaching niches. You can leverage your social media presence to reach out to and attract LGBTQ clients by applying the following suggestions and practices.

Know Your Platform

The two most prominent social media platforms today are Facebook and Instagram. Both have different personalities and different options for promoting a business.

Facebook is a platform built around sharing information, even if it’s not your own. You can showcase your stance on LGBTQ weddings by sharing applicable articles on a regular basis that will be appreciated by your followers, regardless of their orientation and identity. Content such as viral proposal videos starring a same-sex couple, or roundups of same-sex wedding content, are easy and organic ways to share inspiration with your followers while also subtly displaying your equality-mindedness.

Unfortunately, as many of us know, Facebook has become extremely “pay-to-play,” but Instagram is a platform that can still be used to organically target a specific audience with hashtags (at least for the moment!). On Instagram, my rule of thumb is to have one same-sex image in each row of my Instagram grid. Depending on the size of the phone and whether or not you use Instagram Highlights, users can either see three, six or nine images of your content at first glance on your profile. Be strategic with the images that you decide to post — you may not have LGBTQ-specific content, but be wary of overdoing it with opposite-sex couples. Break hetero imagery with decor shots, groom details and wedding party pictures.

Employing Hashtags

Hashtags are one of the primary methods of attracting new followers on Instagram. While normally I advise against using terms like “LGBT Wedding” and “Gay Wedding” in your client-facing marketing efforts, these hashtags are being searched for by LGBTQ couples. Use them to identify your business as inclusive. As with any hashtag strategy, try to choose terms that hit the sweet spot of search, usually the 2,000-1,000,000 uses range. Also, integrate your favorite LGBTQ wedding publications’ (like ours at @LoveIncMag -- #loveinc).

Examples of hashtags searched by the LGBTQ community include #gaywedding #lgbtwedding #lgbtqwedding, #samesexwedding #twogrooms #twobrides #mrsandmrs #mrandmr #samelove #gayweddings.

Styled Shoots & Stock Photography

Styled shoots are a fantastic way to develop imagery for your social media accounts, make your portfolio more inviting to LGBTQ couples and gain exposure by submitting to publications. A challenge that is specific to same-sex styled shoots is ensuring that the romantic chemistry between the models feels real. I suggest making sure your models are either very experienced and can comfortably sell the love as part of a same-sex couple, or, a real-life LGBTQ couple.

Another option for imagery, depending on your profession, is stock photography which has really increased in quality within the last few years. Unfortunately, stock imagery featuring LGBTQ couples is still rare, but Unsplash and Canva are great sources for free or inexpensive downloads that have same-sex options in their library.

LGBTQ Appropriate Verbiage

The wedding world is filled with heteronormative language, so be wary of using terminology that is gender-specific. For example, wedding party instead of bridal party, wedding suite instead of bridal suite, and bach party instead of bachelor/bachelorette are all inclusive options. For your clients, replace “bride and groom” with gender-neutral terms such as couple, client, partner, significant other, or, if your branding is more playful, you can use terms such as soonlywed of nearlywed.

The first step is awareness and once you begin making these small but mighty changes in your marketing, you will certainly stand out in this swiftly evolving world of weddings.

Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publication. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She serves on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Wedding & Events.

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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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Finding Your Voice in the Social Media Sphere

Social media exposure can be a gift to an event business, but creating a presence that is natural, reflective of your desired message and compelling enough to cut through all of the other noise takes work. Honing your approach can help you find your voice in the social media sphere.

Be Natural

There are some things in social media that make sense for nearly all events businesses, like posting photos of your work so prospective clients can see you in action. Finding your unique voice, though, requires that you put your business personality out there.

For example, while we are strategic about the work we post, we try to give our stories a freewheeling, casual feel. We’ve found that our clients like the behind-the-scenes perspective and enjoy seeing how we create things. It gives them a sense of who we are as a company. This approach has a lot of value for us. We have people coming in all the time saying “I saw this on Instagram and I loved it!”

Be Selective

Make sure you curate your timeline to ensure that you’re staying true to your brand. Only show images that you are proud of, and that reflect who you are as a brand as and as a business. Feature the kind of work you want to attract.

Be Consistent

In order for social media to be effective, your content has to be timely and current. Users notice when you haven’t posted in months and wonder if it’s a reflection of being too busy to connect with your audience, too aloof to spend time engaging, or too unorganized to say on top of your presence. Neglecting your social media can also give the appearance that you have nothing interesting or notable to share.

Create a content calendar and commit to a reasonable posting schedule. Also, take advantage of the many apps that allow you to automate and pre-schedule posts so you never seem “absent” from your platforms.

Be Generous

Tag everyone who contributed to an event and make sure you have permission to share each image. Your network of creative partners will not only appreciate that you acknowledged their efforts – they will likely tag you in future posts to reciprocate. Together you can build an audience that seeks out and supports businesses like yours.

Whether you focus on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or another platform, applying these suggestions will help you find your social media voice and show off your personality. When you do, you can expect to attract exactly the kind of like-minded prospects you desire for your events business.

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Virtual Reality and Its Impact on the Wedding Industry

Sandy Hammer, AllSeated

Technology never ceases to amaze us – even in the wedding industry, where we are accustomed to watching for and incorporating new innovations into our bags full of tricks. One of the most exciting recent advances is the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) capability. It is revolutionizing the way that we work with clients, market destinations and visualize design. Its impact on the wedding industry is expected to be huge.

What Is Virtual Reality?

In the recent past it was the stuff of movies, games, and imagination –  put on a pair of Goggles and be transported to destinations as far as the other side of the globe (and beyond). Today, however, you can purchase a pair of such goggles from Apple or Android, download an app to access your project or event, and see the entire venue as if you are standing directly in the room. This vivid visualization pre-delivers experiences to venues and couples in a way that has never previously been possible in this industry!

What Are the Wedding Industry Implications of VR?

This new technology will allow wedding professionals to work with couples from afar with more ease and peace of mind for all involved. Couples will be able to see their space and your designs before they set foot in it in real life. The VR experience replaces a photo slideshow, video or schematic. This kind of engaging interaction with the space makes both preliminary sales and upselling easier.

Increase Sales

We have updated AllSeated, for example, to include technology that interacts with a wide range of VR headsets, including Facebook’s Oculus, HTC’s Vive and the Samsung Gear VR. Some of our customers have reported closing more than ten new events per year solely due to the event visualization experience we provide. Incorporating VR technology into your sales process is expected to have the same effect on wedding sales across the board.

Whether you sell local weddings or destination events, you can look forward to the advancements that will soon be available to you thanks to VR technology. Turn your bridal show or trade show booth into an imagination station and invite your couples in to your venues and designs. You will soon see an improvement in the number and quality of bookings you successfully secure. It’s a form of tech advancement that has been long anticipated. Enjoy its benefits!

With over 20 years of experience in the international events industry, Sandy Hammer is the co-founder and CMO of AllSeated, a collaborative network for planning events that offers tools including floorplans, 3D view, Guest List, RSVP, Seating, Timelines, Mobile Check-In and more.

 

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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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The Ins and Outs of Mastermind Groups

By Lane' Richards, Something Borrowed

You’ve probably heard of a Mastermind Group but aren’t exactly sure what all the hype is about. We all know as wedding professionals that your time, energy and resources are very limited. You don’t want to join yet another program that may not produce the results you were hoping for. Let's take a closer look at Masterminds and see how they can be of value to the growth of your wedding business.

 What is a Mastermind?

A Mastermind Group is peer-to-peer mentoring with a mixture of brainstorming, education and accountability. They are a way to accelerate the success of your business as you focus on your most important issues.

They are a concept first introduced in the early 1900’s by Napoleon Hill via his book, “The Law to Success.” They are new to most people, but have gained popularity over the past couple of years. Masterminds are a great way to get motivated and to make better business decisions and cost much less than working one on one with a business coach.

Is a Mastermind Group for You?

Masterminds are not for everyone. They can be intense and you must be open to both sharing and exploring new ideas with others. They’re ideal if you’re passionate about your business and want to not only reach but exceed your goals. You have to be willing to be an active participant to reap the full benefits. Each group member relies on your expertise to help guide them through an issue, so it’s not a place to be a bystander or sit quietly in the corner. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it, so it’s important to not only show up, but be fully present.

What to Expect

Meeting consistency. Mastermind Groups meet once or twice a month at a set date and time, taking the guesswork out of finding a good time for the entire group.

Virtual collaboration. Since most Masterminds meet virtually, you are not tied to finding a group in your geographic location, opening the doors for you to be part of a group that fits with your niche, expertise and time constraints.

Small groups. Space is usually limited to up to 6-8 people which allows each person enough time on the Mastermind calls. A smaller group also means stronger connections.

Simple meeting structure. Mastermind Groups have standard format for each meeting. To get warmed up, they may open with a celebration or win from the previous meeting. Then, each participant has time in the “hot seat” to share the problem or challenge they are facing. All group members then take turns sharing ideas they have for the hot seat member. To close the meeting out, each member takes turns sharing one thing they’d like to be held accountable for.

When you take part in a Mastermind Group, you’ll start to see a shift in your confidence and what you accomplish. You’ll have breakthrough moments and a greater sense of clarity as you work through obstacles that may be holding you back. A coach and peers will guide you as you tackle challenges and solve problems together. Best of all, you’ll have fun participating in one!

 Lane’ Richards is the multidisciplinary entrepreneur and creative genius behind Something Borrowed Portland. In 2017 Lane’ started Wedding Pro Coaching; offering mastermind business coaching and educational programs to independent creatives looking to navigate - and succeed - in the crowded wedding industry.

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WeddingIQ welcomes guest posts from wedding professionals and industry experts on all topics relevant to running a wedding business. Please review our guest contributor guidelines and email us with your submissions!


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