Networking is one of the most valuable things you can do as a business owner.
Studies suggest that networking with other businesses can gain wedding pro's up to 20% of their new clients, and a networking strategy can also be the key to finding new investors and partners that will help to grow your business.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to network successfully. Especially for wedding business owners. Have you ever been in a room full of corporate businesses or perhaps tradespeople, feeling a little uncomfortable or wondering whether you fit in? We have!
Not only do you have to get used to the awkward initial introduction phase when you’re trying to make connections with others, but often you’ve got some serious time constraints to worry about too.
Building connections takes time. But, as every small business owner knows, there's a lot for you to do. So how do you ensure that you’re still working on your networking strategy when you’re strapped for time?
As owners of a networking company bringing wedding professionals together we've got some top tips to help you with a networking strategy going forward.
Make It a Daily Habit
The more you practice networking as a daily habit, the more naturally it will fit into your day.
Rather than setting aside an hour a week where you can go and talk to people who could help your business to grow, you use five minutes each day. Start the morning by sending emails to others online and connecting with your industry colleagues on social media.
If networking is as much of a habit as brushing your teeth or your hair, then it starts to feel more natural.
What’s more, when networking becomes a habit, it also emerges as something that you force yourself to make time for. You’re less likely to make excuses that you don’t have a moment to spare.
Leverage New Connections
Networking isn’t just about building new relationships.
There’s a good chance that you already have some quality people in your existing network who could help to introduce you to important figures in your space. A great place to start utilising your network is by looking at who you already have connections with and seeing how you can mutually benefit each other - perhaps on a project, referral scheme, styled shoot or something else.
Get to know the suppliers you already have connected with and their background. Grab lunches and coffee when you have the opportunity and look for chances to get to know new people through them too. You might discover that your original network has a lot more value to offer than you originally thought.
Use Existing Activities
If you already take part in social activities from time to time, why not use those as part of your networking strategy? If you regularly volunteer at nonprofit organisations, for example, then you can strike up conversations with people in this environment. Do your friends and family know what it is that you do, how about the people on the school run?
Even if you don’t gain any valuable connections, making the time to connect with others and practice your networking skills will benefit you in the long term. You can chat everywhere -- from your gym to your laundry place.
Getting practice into your day where you can work on your ability to build emotional links to others is a lot more valuable than most people realise.
Schedule Important Events in Advance
If you do want to make time for a specific in-person networking event, then it’s important to prepare well in advance. Chances are that you won’t be able to attend most events at the last minute, but you can go to the important ones by staying organised.
To help improve your chances of regularly networking, attempt to attend at least one each month – even if it’s an online event. Make a list of the events that you most want to attend and add them to your calendar, so you have plenty of time to prepare.
Be selective about the kind of events you choose. Ideally, you’ll want to visit an environment where you can reach people who are going to benefit you and your business. Our networking events bring together people in your niche in your local area, so you'll be sure to find others not only with the same interests as you but also with the same client base to tap into. Look out for news of our in person networking events making a return for 2022.
Use Social Media
Finally, social media is one of the most popular and convenient ways to network and it's free!
Make a little time each day to go through your connections and reach out to those who might be valuable to your social circle. The key to success with social media networking is ensuring that you don’t let it eat up too much of your day.
Set a specific amount of time aside so you can avoid getting distracted for too long. If you have multiple social accounts, consider consolidating them with a social media marketing tool, so you can share content more easily and attract potential connections to you. Our networking email examples give you perfect ideas of how to reach out and connect with other businesses and influencers in the worlds of weddings, put yourself forward for styled shoots and more. You can check those out here.
Networking is vitally important for your success and that of your business. Keep these tips in mind to enable you to perform critical networking activities without it taking time away from the rest of your business.
Check out WEDCON 2022 - the wedding business event. A day full of education, business training, education and opportunities for your wedding business.