Most wedding pros we know have a real love/hate relationship with networking. Sure, it's fun to socialize and call it "business," and face it, it's pretty cool that we can consider that a very important part of our job. Still, the obligation to mix and mingle with strangers - or, even harder, with people we know but just can't seem to connect with - can be daunting.
I've written several posts about networking (including creative networking concepts, tips for making networking easier, and how to network when the whole idea of it makes you nervous). For today's post, Kyle and I thought we'd turn it over to other business owners within the wedding industry. We asked them: what are your most and least favorite parts of networking? The answers, as we predicted, were as varied as the people who submitted them.
Jennifer Cody, Egomedia Photography: "I love having a chance to actually talk to friends in the industry, because when we work together at events we’re all so busy that it’s very difficult to really have a conversation at all! It’s also nice to get to eat all the delicious eating food, since that’s another thing we don’t usually do at weddings! I hate that most networking events seem to take place during rush hour! That drives me crazy because traffic is horrible. I wish we could do more events later in the evening, or at midday."
Henriette Buell, Buelltiful Events: "I am an introvert, so I have a healthy love-hate relationship with networking events. Catching up with familiar faces and the latest industry news, making new acquaintances in a low-key setting - those are two things I love about networking. What I don’t like, are events that are dominated by cliques or feel more like a superfluous, calculated business card stock exchange than anything else."
Michael Connor, Wedding Photography by Connor Studios: "I love talking to other people in the industry about their best weddings and worst recent weddings. The best reaffirms my faith in this industry and the worst lets me know that we all go through the exact same thing every now and then which helps to let it go. My least favorite thing is people that walk in and treat it like a networking event. Don’t come in and try to do business with me. Come in and relax and let your personality shine (assuming you have one). Most of us are there to relax with colleagues, meet new people and keep up current relationships. This is not the time to do a business transaction."
Angela Papa, Behind the Veil: "I love seeing so many of my favorite industry friends all in one place, but hate that there's not enough time to connect and have valuable conversations with them all!"
Gerry Rogers & Rebecca Henry, Petal's Edge Floral Design: "The positive: as small business owners, we get so wrapped up in our own day-to-day that it can be nice to connect in an informal setting with colleagues. The negative: sometimes, the nature of networking events doesn’t let you get past the frenzy so interactions can seem shallow and unproductive."
Elissa Hobbs, Limousines, Inc.: "I love it when the hosts of the networking event make it their priority to connect others, and I hate it when you meet someone that is more interested in pitching their company/product than making the connection to better both businesses."
Ashley Sullivan, Ashley Michelle Photography: "My favorite thing about networking is building relationships and catching up with my friendors. And the food and drink. And photoboothing since I'm a professional. My least favorite thing is when vendors immediately start asking for referrals the first time you meet them."
Illiah Manger, Two Twenty Two Design: "Secretly, my favorite thing is trying new hors d’oeuvres at events. And I love to talk and connect over people’s business cards, but I find small talk a challenge."
Kathy Dennin-Meagher, My Flower Box Events: "I love being invited to grand openings and special evenings with fun wedding professionals, and always look forward to seeing everyone. However, the worst thing about networking is timing of the unpredictable. It seems no matter what, something always goes awry that day that makes it more hassle than fun! (No sleep the night before, bad hair day, traffic jam on the way there…)"
Lisa Boggs, Lisa Boggs Photography: "Most favorite thing: definitely reconnecting with wedding vendors I haven't seen in a while. It's a great time to catch up and relax without the pressures of an actual wedding hanging over our heads! Least favorite thing: there isn't enough dancing at these networking events! We wedding vendors need to let loose and boogie down!"
Silvia la Fleur, Rentals to Remember: "Most favorite thing: networking is all about building a relationship and connecting with genuine people in our industry. Least favorite meeting people that are just there to have a good time and not part of our industry."
And, of course, our $0.02...
Kyle Bergner, Kyle Bergner Photography: "I'm not going to lie, one of my favorite things about networking is getting dressed up. I spend most of my working hours in casual clothes sitting at my desk. It feels good to look professional while mingling with your peers. My least favorite thing about networking is meeting people who want to give you their sales pitch instead of building a relationship. I can learn about their product or service online. I'm at a networking event to get to know the people behind the business."
Jennifer Reitmeyer, MyDeejay: "Like most of us in the industry in this area, I work and am friends with wedding professionals in a pretty wide geographic region, from north of Baltimore all the way down into Virginia. It's nice when a good networking event draws people that I don't get to see very often due to distance. On the other hand, networking becomes less fun when people clearly don't want to be there. I get it - networking is difficult for many people, sometimes myself included. But if you aren't in the mindset to meet people and engage in conversations, it's probably better that you stay home and catch up on TV."
We're looking forward to seeing many of you at an upcoming networking event (where we promise not to make a sales pitch, small talk, or force cards on anyone!