This month, we’re all about channeling our inner courageous warriors and being brave. One of the scariest things to do in this industry, though—especially if you’re just starting out as a wedding professional—is to ask other pros to collaborate. The wedding industry can be a competitive one, and reaching out to others (especially seasoned ones) can be intimidating to say the least. Today, then, we wanted to break down our top tips for securing some killer professional partnerships, and maybe even flourishing friendships along the way.
Choose the Right Partners
Just because you’ve been following a certain Instagram account for years, doesn’t necessarily mean that planner or wedding professional is the right fit for your project. When you’re looking to collaborate with other professionals, you want to make sure you’re strategically choosing those you reach out to based on more than just liking their work or following them on social media. For example, if you’re looking for a photographer for a styled shoot you’re planning, you want to choose a photographer who makes sense for the project—photographers all have different styles and unique aesthetic preferences, and you want to choose someone whose portfolio closely aligns with what you’re looking for. Other considerations—like someone’s workload, location, and how busy a certain time of year may be for them—should also be made.
Let Them Know You’ve Done Your Research
Put the same amount of time and research into your communications with other professionals as you would into applying for your dream job. Part of what you want to do in a professional cover letter is connect with your audience and let her/him know you did your research right from the get-go. Do the exact same thing when reaching out to an individual. Take time to read their bio, browse their portfolio, and study their social media pages. Then, drop a line or two that lets them know you did your homework. I.e. I love your recent focus on the modern-industrial aesthetic and think you’d be the perfect fit for the warehouse styled shoot I’m planning. Or, After reading your bio, I noticed you prefer to work with unexpected color combinations in your floral arrangements, which is why I think you’d be an awesome fit for an upcoming wedding I’m working on—you’ll love the palette we have planned. Not only will you learn what people are most interested in by reading up on them, you’ll also learn what they aren’t interested in, which is just as important.
Plan Before You Present
Especially if you’re working with someone for the very first time, you’ll want to show that person you’re serious about the upcoming collaboration. Once you get to the stage where you’re ready to meet to discuss the project more, have more prepared than just a rough idea of the project in your head. Treat the person you’re presenting to as you would a client—photographs, color swatches, fabric swatches, and maybe even a professional powerpoint can all be useful tools to show other professionals you’re serious (and organized). You want to let them know right from the get-go that they won’t have to take on more than their fair share of work for the collaboration—and you can put their mind at ease by showing up to your first meeting super prepared. If you get to the meeting and it turns out they seem very laid back and open to collaborating creatively, great—let the ideas flow and go with a less-structured approach, but it’s always best to be over-prepared just in case.
What’s In It For Them?
Before ever approaching another wedding professional, put yourself in their shoes and ask what’s in it for them. Think through what you bring to the table in this collaboration. Especially if you’re asking someone to offer up their services pro-bono, you want to have some bullet-points in your head to help you sell the idea. Maybe you have a solid social-media following and can promote their services on your pages. Maybe you’re working with other professionals on the same project who they would love to meet. Maybe there’s an exchange of services you can work out. Or, maybe you’re confident the project will get published and they’ll see their company name in print. If you’re a brand-new planner and don’t have any of those things to offer, not to worry. Think about creative ways you can make the collaboration worth it. This may mean running a $50 Facebook promoted post or advertisement with images from the collaboration and tagging their page, or even just posting a blog post about the collaboration on your website and linking to their website—there’s always something you can do to sweeten the deal, even if you don’t have a ton of industry connections to offer at the moment.
Overall, approaching other planners is all about doing your research, being prepared, and thinking through what it is you can bring to the table. While our industry can be a competitive one, it’s also an extremely collaborative one. After all, creativity thrives on teamwork. And remember—the absolute worst someone can say is no. So, channel that inner soldier of yours, put on a brave face, and get to collaborating with those professionals you admire most!