It can never be said enough that the Internet has radically transformed the marketing playground. But that doesn’t mean all pre-Internet marketing practices got left in the dust (or sandbox). This is especially true for wedding business networking.
Oh networking… do you really still work? The answer is yes. The answer will most certainly always be yes. And to successfully network surprisingly very little of the Internet needs to be involved. (Though we suggest you not entirely do away with it either!)
If you are really looking to sustain your wedding business, you are going to want to incorporate these timeless networking practices. They are easy to do (we promise), and it really only requires being proactive and creative.
First things first, consider ahead of time who to approach. Networking is about building valuable, professional relationships that benefit both parties involved. (New to the industry or looking for a networking refresher? Check out our Blog Post: Networking 101 to jumpstart your networking approach.)
Not sure who to approach? Think of other service providers. These are the caterers and catering halls, photographers, videographers, jewelers, bridal shops, and entertainment companies. That’s only naming a few. There’s also ceremony officiants and stationery and invitation suppliers.
When asking yourself who to approach, consider these points:
- What does this person/company do, and what can we share with one another? (Are you a photographer looking for a stationery supplier to produce thank-you cards with the photos you took?)
- It what ways could you form a sustainable relationship with this person/company? (Are you a wedding planner looking for a catering hall/venue to recommend to your clients?)
Secondly, plan your approach. Go in with a network game plan. Be willing to take a few risks. Go beyond exchanging business cards. Make something actually happen. The results are in the actions you take. Consider some of these moves to make:
- Demonstrate that you know something about their business and who they are (do a little research about them first! Everyone likes to be recognized.)
- Approach people as people first, and their business second (give yourself the chance to feel out if they are the kinds of people you would want to network with, and not just the kinds of businesses that could work well with yours.)
- If it isn’t on their business card, get the link to their website, as well as their social media channels. Be sure you give the same for them. (And don’t forget to actually connect! Be active on their social media channels, and give them positive feedback and involvement on their website.)
Thirdly, and last of all, cement the networking relationship. This is where some wedding professionals get a little flustered, but we got your back. It can be easy (just like we promised), especially if you’ve taken the time to consider who to approach, and how to approach them. Now for the glue:
- Get out there and talk about them to others! Make them look good and recommend them, so that they will feel inclined to do the same. (Help them recognize that by networking with you, they WILL benefit.)
- Go in and talk to them about their customers! See if you can make a special offer specifically for their customers, and their customers only.
- Buy some leads! Some businesses are willing to sell their leads to you, so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Offer them some incentive if they generate referrals to your business. (Will you promise them referrals? Will you write about them on your website’s blog? Will they get a kickback from any referrals that you get through them?)
Above all, remember, a networking relationship should be a natural fit. It is like putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Fit together all the pieces in the right way, and you could even end up offering a package deal to couples. Then everyone in your network is guaranteed a piece of business. Now who wouldn’t want to connect with that? (Someone you don’t want to network with.)