What do you think of when you hear the word networking?
For many people when they hear the word networking they think of attending mixers with a bunch of people they don’t know, a few people they want to meet and an even smaller group of people they would be super excited to work with. I can’t think of many people that love attending these events after a long day of work and having to put in the energy to get to know complete strangers that you may or may not work with again.
I remember when I first moved to California, I attended as many networking mixers as I could to meet people. It was so intimidating to go to a mixer where I didn’t know anyone and I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot before going in, my stomach in knots with anxiety, reading articles with tips all about networking. Do you know this feeling I’m talking about?
The truth is networking is one of the best ways to get awesome, qualified leads for your wedding planning business.
The key for turning networking into a lead is to be authentic and thoughtful. You need to get out from behind your computer and meet people in person. The good news is that you don’t have to attend these networking mixers to meet other wedding vendors that you want to work with!
In fact, I’m going to tell you how to meet fantastic wedding vendors right now and build genuine relationships which will turn into leads, sales and very happy wedding clients.
Start by researching other wedding vendors in your area. Pay attention to which vendors have similar couples, style, and approach to you. These are the wedding vendors you want to focus on meeting because you both want to book the same type of client. Make a list of these people and keep track of them. Start to follow them and interact with them on social media.
Contact those wedding vendors that you would like to meet. Start with a personal email and follow up in a few days with a phone call. Since you are already following them on social media, there is a better chance they will notice and respond to you. You are not (I repeat NOT) asking them to send you clients; you are getting to know them and starting to learn about each other. The slow season is a great time to invite a vendor to coffee, tour a venue and get reacquainted with vendors you worked during the year.
After the meeting, be sure to follow up with an email or e-card thanking them for their time (or to really stand out, send a handwritten note). Be sure to post a photo from your get together on social media with a shoutout about how awesome that vendor is at their job.
STAY IN TOUCH
The relationship doesn’t end there. To foster an authentic relationship, that leads to working on weddings together, be sure to stay in touch. Consider sending holiday cards to your to list of vendors (even if you haven’t met with them yet). To get creative you can send Valentine’s or Thanksgiving holiday cards, rather than in December when they could get lost in the holiday shuffle.
PRO TIP: The absolute best way to get referrals, it to give referrals. Be generous when referring people to other vendors. Don’t be afraid to network and refer people that have the same job as you. There will be dates when you are booked or unavailable and need to refer a potential client to someone else and vice versa. Plus, if you have an emergency or an assistant who calls in sick, you may need to ask a friend who shares your skill set and style to help you out.