There’s no doubt that networking can give your wedding business a good boost. Word of mouth referrals are such an important marketing opportunity and really cost effective, It’s so important to put yourself within that social chain so that others know about your business. Think about how many suppliers the average couple meets with and books. It's definitely double digits, that's a lot of conversations surrounding weddings and a lot of opportunities for your name to be mentioned in a positive way whilst the couple are actively looking to book your service.
Remember that everyone you meet is an opportunity to network and it's time to get comfortable with putting yourself out there and creating opportunities for yourself.
Spend part of your week networking and making new contacts with these methods:
1. Examine your current resources. You already know someone that is well-connected. Think about all of your friends, family, neighbours, and coworkers. Consider your entire social network. Maybe you’re a member of a church, parenting forum or a local women’s group. Are you leveraging those contacts effectively and do they even know what you do? So many small business owners aren't telling others what they do for fear of being judged if they fail. It's time to stop thinking of your business as something that could fail and start shouting from the rooftops about what you do!
2. The key to effective networking is consistency and persistence. A little each day is more effective than a monumental effort every once in a while. It’s like going to the gym. You need to be consistent in your efforts if you want to see big results. Set aside time to reach out to people each week and ensure you are going to relevant networking events regularly.
3. Make use of social media. Utilise your social media and make your presence known to the world. Make contact with a few people regularly via social media. It's easy and doesn't take too long. Where do you come in the process of a couples wedding planning journey? Which other wedding suppliers could recommend your services, what contacts have you got when you need to turn down a wedding and who could you refer the booking to? Make a list of local suppliers who also cater to your niche and reach out in the DMs on Instagram, comment on their pictures and strike up a conversation. Soon you'll be going out for coffee and another business will know all about you.
4. Be proactive. You can’t just stand in the middle of the crowd at a networking event and expect people to line up for the privilege of talking to you. The burden is on you to start conversations. Take the bull by the horns and mingle. Yes it can be nerve wrecking but everyone starts in the space space and you’ll get much better with practice. With the last few years on lockdown there'll be plenty of other people also nervous about striking up conversations so you won't be alone. Pick networking events that have relevant businesses and local suppliers also attending and you'll have loads in common already. To find an event in your area click here.
5. Learn to ask open-ended questions. It’s hard to maintain a conversation by asking questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no”. Ask questions that require a detailed answer. You’ll find it much easier to speak with others when you use open-ended questions.
6. Follow up religiously. Communicating with someone one time won’t do much for you. Reach out to the most promising contacts you’ve made and touch base. Stay in touch, give them a follow on social media - the likelihood is they'll follow you back but go one extra and send them a message saying how nice it was to connect with them. Spend a few minutes throughout the month nurturing the relationship by liking their posts and keeping that conversation flowing.
7. You can’t expect to receive more effort and value than you provide. You truly receive what you give when it comes to networking. You won’t get much if you don’t give much. Make a real effort to help others when you can. Another great thing about networking aside from meeting local businesses is the amount of information and support that's available from your industry peers and colleagues. Having other business owners to lean on is invaluable in not only keeping you connected but also keeping you sane! Being in business can be a lonely place and having some trusted industry buddies to ask questions to is truly invaluable. Some of the time you'll need to give a little too to encourage others to open up on their struggles or at least asking the questions. Whether it's where the best venues to work with are, what insurance provider is best or how to dump a pain client.
8. Focus on quality over quantity. Passing out your business card like you’re passing out car wash coupons won’t do you a lot of good. Everyone can see what you’re doing. Make an effort to make a few real connections with suppliers who also serve your ideal client rather than throwing a 100 darts at the wall. Quality counts.
9. Connect others together. This can be especially powerful. Bring other people together. This is especially easy to do and can pay off down the road for your own career.
10. Avoid going in for the hard sell. If every time you reach out to someone you’re trying to get something from them, people will tire of you very quickly. Instead, give them something useful whether it's the way you were able to set up your Instagram shop or an article you found that their own couple would love. People love to receive things from others and it strengthens relationships.
Networking is a hugely effective way to begin the process of building relationships with local business owners and getting them to know all about you and your business. You can also get to know people that can give you referrals. Ensure that you’re also doing all you can for your network.