Building Professional Relationships & A Competitive Network

A little competition can be a positive and healthy way to push you on the path towards success when starting your career. In the wedding industry, pros value community over competition. If you are relatively new in the industry, it’s important to begin building professional relationships with other vendors in your area. Simply asking,”How do I get on your referral list?”, however? Yeah, not gonna cut it.

First Things First

There may be a long road ahead of you, but making strong connections take time. It’s important to begin showing your face in the professional community and making yourself and your business known. Not knowing where to start or how to break into some of the cliques and build professional relationships can put you in a tough spot. So, take it with a grain of salt and a way to start a dialogue.

Birds Of A Feather

For someone new in the wedding and events industry, there are big cliques to break into within the local market. This is especially true when gathered together at networking events. Truth is, just like with the events they collectively work, their professional relationships are built on equity. These are people who have worked together and referred business collectively for quite some time. Most of them are not exclusive relationships, so they’re probably not the only florist, photographer, or DJ they work with. But, getting your foot in the door takes a little time and work.

Work For It

These connections and referrals will be extremely beneficial for your career. Just like everything you’ve done up to this point, it’s going to take some work to achieve it.

Here are 6 tips on how to break through and stand out:

  1. Do your homework: Asking a planner or wedding venue how to get on their list may be met with a cold shoulder. Knowing they’re working on a charity event and asking if they need help, however, may actually help you in building a relationship that works. It gives them a chance to get to know you, see you in action and witness your winning, team player personality.
  2. Make a statement: Try dropping off a small sweet treat along with some well-branded collateral material. Get their attention, be memorable, and be sure to follow up.
  3. Get creative: Approaching a wedding planner or venue with an idea of a styled shoot might be your key to success. Make sure your idea is on-brand for the person you’re approaching, that they haven’t done anything similar, and look at a list of pros who might make a great team.
  4. Come together: Look at attendee lists for networking events and reach out to someone who’s in your area to see if they want to carpool. Or, offer to meet for a drink before the event. Be direct: “I’m new in the area and saw you were attending this event, would you like to meet up?” The answer to every unasked question?: NO.
  5. Take control: Don’t be afraid to step into a group and connect with the conversation. Be prepared to quickly introduce yourself. Don’t be scared to ask someone to lunch. Always exchange business cards with people you meet (so carry plenty!). And, ABSOLUTELY follow up, even if it’s just a quick email.
  6. Refer them: This might sound odd but if you have a client looking for a venue, recommend them. If you’re planning a reunion, shower, or family event, that might be a good referral for them. Hopefully, they’ll get to know you and keep you in mind in the future.

Bottom line

Most people in your wedding market are not two-headed ogres. Most are there talking business with people they’ve worked with in the past. People are not going to automatically add you to a referral list without knowing you. In perfect sense, they’re protecting the integrity of their business and their clients. So, focus on the basics of strong, professional relationships: work hard to get to know them, show off your skills, be willing to help out, and gain their trust.

About the Author

Mark Kingsdorf
Mark Kingsdorf

Mark Kingsdorf is the owner of St Petersburg Florida based Wedding Ghost, a ghost blogging and curated website content company working exclusively with wedding, event and hospitality professionals. He is one of 57 Master Wedding Planners in the world, a Certified Same Sex Wedding Specialist, was the founder of Philadelphia based “The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants”, Wish Upon A Wedding Philadelphia and has been a contributor to Emily Post Institute, major wedding magazines and websites as well as many wedding and event industry conferences.

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