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.
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.