By: Angela Hodel of Imagine Events
For many wedding industry professionals, networking is a great way to build up your vendor network as well as get future referrals. Networking with local professionals is important to do on an ongoing basis for many reasons! There will always be new vendors in the area and new services being offered with the trends that come and go in the wedding industry. It’s your job to know who you can refer and recommend to your trusting clients. In addition to knowing your market area well and getting referrals from other industry vendors, networking has many other pros. This includes growth in confidence and status and paving the way for new opportunities.
When most people think of networking, they think of crowded in-person events, shaking hands and exchanging business cards over small-talk. While these might be beneficial for some people, others find this a waste of time. It often lacks personality and many find it outright nerve-racking, especially if you are an introvert. With the lack of in-person gatherings over the past year, most networking events have nearly ceased. This leaves those who want to network or build relationships at a loss. It has created a new wave of online learning and virtual events that we have never seen before, where online networking has now become the new norm! However, networking through virtual events still has its challenges in building meaningful connections and relationships with your industry peers.
When it comes to online networking, you need to start thinking outside the box on how to build meaningful relationships with vendors in your area. This is especially important if you are newer in the market area, or just starting as a wedding professional.
Here are just a few great ways to network that involve no in-person contact and no cold-calling!
Social Media Interaction
Social Media Interaction is one of the best ways to start meeting and learning about vendors you want to network with. One of the first things you do when someone you don’t know “likes” or interacts with one of your posts, you look up who that person is. The same is true for businesses. A great way to get started with social media networking is to first follow many of the local vendors in your area that are involved with the wedding industry through your social media accounts including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. It’s super important that you do this through your business page, and not your personal page on platforms like Facebook. The business that you are liking or following may not know that you personally are associated with a specific company unless your company page is where the interactions are coming from.
After you have followed some industry professionals, it’s time to start interacting with them. A “like” of someone’s photo or post is no longer a meaningful engagement. Instead, it’s important to comment on, share and reshare your fellow wedding professionals’ work if desired. For example, If you like the photo that a local cake designer posted, comment how beautiful the cake is on the photo. These types of interactions will have your fellow industry peers noticing you, and perhaps may engage them to follow you back or interact. Note that it’s important for your engagement to be meaningful, and not just because you’re trying to network alone. These types of repeated interactions lead the way to building a repour with your peers and get you noticed in the market area.
Email is a great way to market yourself to not only clients but with other wedding vendors as well. After you have spent some time engaging online with vendors, it’s great to take it one step further and start reaching out personally. You can do this either through email or on the social media platform.
Many wedding vendors prefer to use email, while others would rather have you direct message them through the social media platform you’ve been engaging on. Either way, this is a great opportunity to say hello, introduce yourself to new vendors, or connect with past vendors you’ve worked with and touch base.
It’s important to refrain from cold-emailing wedding vendors in the industry. A cold email is typically when a vendor reaches out to another and asks for a referral in their first point of contact to that vendor. This is something both you and other vendors typically don’t like. After all, if a wedding vendor you have never heard of emails you and asks you to refer them, chances are you would be a little put-off, so are other vendors. Instead, focus on building the relationship instead! Treat an email as a form of conversation. Ask them questions about themselves, wish them a great wedding season, and let them know you are excited to work with them again or in the future if you are new to the wedding industry.
Everyone likes to be thanked for doing a good job. So ensure to take the time to thank your vendors! After you have completed a wedding or other event, send an individual email thanking the vendors you worked with for their hard work. The more personal and individualized you can make it, the better. Your vendors will know if you BCC’d them on a blanket thank you email to all the vendors, so instead take the time to write each of them a short, personalized email a few days after the wedding. This leaves a lasting impression for your vendors and will likely keep you in their minds for the next time they have a client needing your services and looking for a referral.
Remembering Important Vendor Milestones and Holidays
When you are interacting with vendors keep notes about important things that happen with their business and in their personal lives. Things like business anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays are another great way to regularly interact with your industry peers and keep your business top of mind. Things like sending out Christmas cards, congratulations on their milestone business anniversaries, award nominations and other holidays are perfect touchpoints throughout the year and are really appreciated!
No longer do we need to panic about attending networking events in person when the majority of networking can be done from the comfort of your office or living room. It’s up to you how you want to network, but networking online is a great way to get to know your peers. When done right can aid a new or seasoned planner with the growth of their business.
Angela Hodel is the owner and manager of Imagine Events, Wedding and Event Planning. She became certified as an event and wedding planner in 2009, shortly before launching her business in Saskatchewan, Canada. Now, Angela has over 10 successful years in business leading her own company and has worked for multiple non-profit organizations bringing knowledge and experience to her role as an event planner.
Angela opened Imagine Events in 2009, and now leads a staff of 8 planners and assistants offering exemplary services to their clients all across Saskatchewan. Imagine Events has a fun and fresh approach to event and wedding planning and prides itself on making event planning easy because easy is awesome! Angela specializes in modest budgets, LGBT+ weddings, and non-profit fundraisers. With her charisma and friendly demeanour, she enjoys creating fun and fresh events.