How to Build Your Local Network Organically

Having a local network of like-minded wedding professionals is one of the quickest ways to build your business and its brand reputation. It’s also great to have a support system of people who understand the market and can send referral business over your way. There are plenty of ways to build your local network organically (that is, not through cold calls and forced interaction), so read on for some ideas.

Attend networking events

This may be an obvious one, but it’s also an important one! Being an active member of local networking groups is the very best way to get your name out there. In addition to meeting wedding professionals from the area, you’ll also get a chance to check out new-to-you venues and pick up some education while you’re at it. What’s stopping you?

Volunteer to help

Once you’ve attended a handful of local networking events, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Networking events are typically sponsored by local vendors, so offer your talents for the night and get your name out there. Whether you’re open to making cake pops for the group or you’re interested in being the photographer for the evening, you’ll get a chance to showcase your skills in front of the people who can send business your way.

Send referrals

Speaking of sending business your way, vendor referrals are extremely valuable so be sure you’re sharing them as well. If you get a client referred to you from a local industry peer, be sure to say thank you and keep them in mind when your future clients are looking for suggestions. That way, your network becomes a web of mutually beneficial relationships – talk about a win-win situation!

Do something special

People love surprises – no, really! Seal the deal by surprising your peers with something special. It could be a small gift card for their birthday (do your research!) or perhaps a Christmas basket to share with the office. We like to deliver “popsicle-grams” to our industry buddies in the thick of summer, which is a nice way to send our love and also help them cool down on a hot day. It’s the thought that counts, so get creative!

The key to expanding your network is to allow it to happen naturally – anything that comes off stiff and artificial will not be accepted so openly. Remember to have fun with it!

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

Using the Off-Season to Build Client Experience

(Editor's Note: Today on the blog, we welcome the return of frequent guest contributor Jennifer Taylor of Taylor'd Events! Read more about Jennifer at the end of the post!)

Your client experience is, essentially, your business. By treating your clients well and going above and beyond with them, you open your company up to positive testimonies and potential referrals.

Oftentimes, the peak season can keep us so busy that above-and-beyond isn’t in the scope – if anything, you just want to make ends meet. Sound familiar? If so, then it may be time to take this upcoming off-season to get organized and streamline your client experience.

As your year’s weddings wind down and you find more time for development, take a step back and analyze your overall client experience. If you have a former client who you trust will be truthful, consider reaching out to pick their brain. Ask yourself:

  • When does your client experience start?
  • When does it end?
  • How are your communication habits with clients?
  • Do you generally receive good feedback?
  • Do you keep in touch with your clients after the wedding?

The answers to these questions should not only give you an idea of where you currently are, but also guide you to further steps you can take to improve the client experience. For example, if you routinely send phone calls straight to voicemails, it may be time to kick the habit and start answering those calls. Communication is key to a positive experience, so don’t assume that great work will balance out your lack of email responses. Be professional and treat your clients the way you would want to be treated in the same situation.

One of our favorite ways to build client experience is to simply stay in touch after our agreement ends. Planning a wedding is one of the most intimate things one can do and, after working with a couple for a length of time, we like to consider them as our friends. This could mean keeping track of their birthdays and sending a sweet card or even sending over a small gift for their one-year anniversary. If you’re more of the digital type, it could even be as simple as a shout out on social media – anything to show that you care!

The perk of developing these client experience procedures during the off-season is that you’ll be primed and ready to use them once the wedding season starts back up. If, for example, birthday cards are your thing, be sure to grab their birthdays from the initial consultation. If you’re more into the anniversary idea, mark your calendar for one year from their wedding date.

Although you’re probably pumped to spend your weekends enjoying the latest Netflix offerings or jumping on a plane to somewhere tropical, be sure you’re taking advantage of your off-season to grow your business as well. You’ll be grateful you did once peak season rolls around!

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor'd Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.

The Art of Finding a Mentor

The Art of Finding a Mentor

(Editor's Note: Our guest post today comes from a true professional who's generously blogged for us before - welcome Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services! Learn more about Kevin at the end of the post!)

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start the hunt for a mentor. The wedding industry is chockfull of experienced professionals, so there’s no need to ever feel like you’re in this alone. Once you have even an inkling of the direction you’d like to take, it’s time to find someone that inspires you and can answer questions.

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Flashback Friday: Our Best Posts on Cultivating Vendor Relationships

Flashback Friday: Our Best Posts on Cultivating Vendor Relationships

Happy Friday, everyone! For most of you, the weekend has plenty of work in store - and plenty of opportunities to interact, positively or negatively, with other wedding professionals on the vendor team. In that spirit, today we're revisiting some of our past posts on the topic of building great relationships with other wedding vendors:

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Playing Well With Others: Your Growing Team's Guide to Cultivating Great Vendor Relationships

Playing Well With Others: Your Growing Team's Guide to Cultivating Great Vendor Relationships

(Editor's Note: Here's part two of our three-part training series on event day management topics! Check back next Monday for the final installment!)

As I'm working with my business coaching clients on strategically growing their teams, one of the most common concerns I hear is that business owners are afraid of sacrificing their professional reputation - specifically, that the larger their team grows, the weaker their relationships with other vendors will become.

It's not an unfounded fear. After all, plenty of bridges have been burned by a boneheaded contractor flagrantly violating a venue's regulations or acting like a jerk to the rest of the vendor team. Fortunately, though, this kind of issue is entirely avoidable through good training. With a little effort and communication, you can grow your team as large as you want it, without giving up that solid "friendor" foundation you worked so hard to build.

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