» Who’s in Your Professional Network?

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

While doing my research for the recent webinar on networking, with its accompanying survey, I found myself weaving back and forth between formal and informal networking.

Formal Networking

Who’s in Your Professional Network?What I call formal networking is when you belong to one of the myriad of associations and groups that dot the landscape of the wedding and event industry. Formal groups have a structure, typically meet at the same date and time each month, and have a volunteer board running it and a particular mission or scope. Some are local and some are national; many are the local chapters of a national group. The advantage of formal networking is the structure and predictability, as well as the tie-in to the national professional networks and often, state or national conferences.

Some are formed around a particular category or skill (i.e. Association of Bridal Consultants – ABC, American Disc Jockey Association – ADJA, or Professional Photographers of America – PPA). Some are centered around a few categories and are a little more broad in scope (i.e. National Association of Catering and Events – NACE, or International Special Events Society – ISES). While others are intended, specifically, to encompass all wedding and event professionals in a particular geographic area (i.e. Maine Wedding Association, Buffalo Bridal Association, Monterey Bay Wedding & Event Professionals or the Bay Area Wedding Network).

Teach me something new

One of the key tenets of these formal networking groups is education (something that’s clearly important to WeddingWire, which is why they allow me the privilege of speaking and writing for you here!). That said the survey results show that a majority of members do not feel they are getting enough high-quality educational content from their participation in networking groups. My question is whether the education is available, or whether the members just choose not to attend.

Informal networking

Both inside and outside the formal groups networking is happening as well. Whether you grab a cup of coffee with another wedding or event Pro, talk shop with them in the hallways of a conference or see them at bridal shows, any time you meet and talk with other Wedding Pros, you’re networking. Neither one is necessarily better than the other – they’re both valuable in building your brand and business.

Continue reading

» 2013 WeddingWire Annnual Survey: Key Takeaways

In order to provide the best experience for our wedding and event professionals, we rely on feedback through ongoing surveys and conversations with our members. One of our biggest sources of feedback is our annual WeddingWire survey specifically focused on your business needs. Surveys like this help us learn what we’re doing well and how we can improve.

At the beginning of 2014, we sent the annual survey focused on 2013 to our entire membership and we thought you might be interested in the response!

WeddingWire's 2013 Annnual Survey: Key Takeaways

» The New Rules of Facebook Engagement

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Facebook has many moving parts. It may be more accurate to describe being a Facebook user as “being caught in the crossfire.

Facebook is no longer simply a social media platform but a communication eco-system. No longer a place just to meet people, it’s now a sharing and marketing machine.  At every turn, your ‘friends’ are giving concert, movie and restaurant reviews, promoting/recommending almost anything they like, and painfully detailing a frustrating experience from the day.

Sponsored and promoted posts now pepper your News Feed, and ads now take up your precious computer screen real estate. At the same time, our minds race with infinite thoughts, competing for our primary attention in real time. Whether it’s good news, bad news, humor, recommendations, or our innermost thoughts and feelings, Facebook is a powerful magnet for expression.

The New Rules of Facebook EngagementIt’s becoming more and more important to understand the new rules of Facebook engagement. If you want to be noticed on Facebook or want to use it to drive business, you’ll need to follow these rules.

Use the “Who Cares?” test

As a general rule for status updates on Facebook, ask yourself, “Who would really care about what I’m about to post?” I often see many businesses or business owners posting this sort of status update:

“Thanks to Patty Harrison for choosing me as her engagement shoot photographer! I’m so excited to shoot your session on Monday!!!”

To most of us who might read that post, it’s name-dropping, spam, or both. The better action is to thank Patty directly with a handwritten card, a voicemail or a private Facebook message. It’s a personal, one-to-one communication, showing appreciation – not a general announcement. Using the “Who Cares?” test before you post will save you from adding more white noise to the mix.

Check your sharing settings

You have the option to share with Friends, the Public (that means EVERYONE on Facebook), or an assortment of other options (including Close Friends – those you have designated with a Gold Star). Being more selective about whom you share what with will help you be more relevant.

Continue reading

» Network Your Way to New Business

Network Your Way to New BusinessWebinar Recap!

Networking is an important part of your business’ growth! Being a good networker will help you to get more leads, build more connections and gain more industry knowledge. This month’s educational webinar for premium members focused on the value of networking.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his insights on how to become a super networker and get noticed in a competitive market. Check out these top five tips for networking success, below!

  1. Un-clique: You can’t extend your network without meeting new contacts! It may be comfortable to stick with industry friends at events, but challenge yourself to meet new people and you may be rewarded with a new friend, mentor or future referee.
  1. Be a resource: Be helpful to your network and offer advice, tips or insights to other Pros from across categories when you feel comfortable with a new connection. People enjoy and respect others who are friendly and working to making the industry better as a whole, and your openness will be noticed and appreciated.
  1. Refer others first: Want to know a secret to getting more Pro referrals? Offer to refer them first! While it is important to only refer Pros you do know and feel comfortable with, making the “first move” when you know a client who may need a great florist or Planner in town can break the ice. Referrals are always appreciated, and they will be likely to return the favor.

Continue reading

» WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids

Tuesday night, Wedding Pros gathered at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Grand Rapids area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief educational presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids board in the Pro Forums!

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

We’re excited to announce our raffle winner! Congrats to Patti Zylstra of Catered Creations, Inc., the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

Finally, as mentioned at the conclusion of the presentation, we encourage you to take advantage of your free registration for WeddingWire World Chicago! As a WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids attendee, you may use the promo code provided at the event for your free ticket. Please email events@weddingwire.com if you have any questions!

WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids

WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids

WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids

WeddingWire Networking Night Grand Rapids

Continue reading

» Pro Forum Buzz: WeddingWire World Chicago, Unplugged Weddings and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, Pros are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the Pro Forums!

WeddingWire World Chicago

Our WeddingWire World Tour 2014 is coming to Chicago! WeddingWire World is a great place for Pros to network and learn the latest from industry experts. Have you heard about it? Are you going? Start networking for the event now!

Join the conversation >>

Pro Forum Buzz: WeddingWire World Chicago, Unplugged Weddings and MorePut down those cell phones

A wedding photographer who has had a lot of ruined photos as a result of amateur guest “photographers” seeks advice from wedding planners on how to address mobile usage during wedding ceremonies. What is your advice on how to “unplug” a wedding?

Offer your advice >>

How do you turn an email/price inquiry into a booking?

Email leads: How do you answer the dreaded “How much?” question? Have you found a successful method for converting email leads and short price inquiries? Vendors everywhere tackle this same topic – seek or give your advice here!

Share your thoughts >>

Continue reading

» WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

Monday night, Wedding Pros gathered at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts for WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Milwaukee area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief educational presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee board in the Pro Forums!

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

We’re excited to announce our raffle winner! Congrats to Kimberly Wesler of Wesler Photography, the winner of a WeddingWire prize pack!

Finally, as mentioned at the conclusion of the presentation, we encourage you to take advantage of your free registration for WeddingWire World Chicago! As a WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee attendee, you may use the promo code provided at the event for your free ticket. Please email events@weddingwire.com if you have any questions!

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee

WeddingWire Networking Night Milwaukee Continue reading

» Same-Sex Marriage Momentum: Do The Latest Legal Wins Impact You?

Photo by Carly FullerThis post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert, Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com. You can follow her on Twitter @gayweddingscom. GayWeddings.com is the leading online boutique and resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999, and a partner in the WeddingWire Network. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, Capturing Love: The Art of Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, now available in nationwide release.

This article was updated on Thursday, July 24 at 11:30am.

Since the fall of DOMA (the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’) in June 2013, the pace of marriage equality updates have quickened, with constitutional bans falling in state after state in ways that have outpaced my wildest dreams.

These days, I find myself updating my same-sex marriage ‘legal landscape’ presentations daily and, on some days, hourly! In the past few months, I’ve started presentations with one count for marriage equality states only to find that the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage (or bans overturned) has increased by the time I’m done speaking.

And, case in point, not long after this piece was first published, Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a Federal judge, meaning that gay marriage recognition in Colorado is now on stay through August 25, until the legal process can move the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which, as noted below, has already upheld state decisions to overturn marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma).

Same-Sex Marriage Momentum: Do The Latest Legal Wins Impact You?Even with these many advancements, the current total of states recognizing marriage equality remains relatively stable at 19 states plus the District of Columbia. (Learn more about specific states below.)

The bigger story for 2014 is actually embedded in the number of states (14) that have overturned constitutional bans on marriage, leaving the legal recognition of same-sex marriage on stay, pending appeal. Or, in layperson’s and grossly oversimplified terms: various judges have overturned bans on marriage equality, but, in most cases, local jurisdictions have been unable to issue marriage licenses until the cases make their way through the appeals process – from state court to federal court to the Circuit Court of Appeals and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court – leaving most of the states in marriage limbo. For now.

As of this writing, seventeen (18!) consecutive federal courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality; thus, the legal groundswell, which is not without a minority voice of protest, clearly favors marriage equality.

If we, today, added to our count of marriage equality states (19 + DC), the states where bans have been overturned but are pending appeal, we would be celebrating marriage equality in thirty-three (33) states and the District of Columbia (source: Human Rights Campaign)!

The states currently in marriage limbo are:  Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Couples in Ohio and Tennessee have also benefited from favorable rulings where the out-of-state marriages of several couples were recognized by the courts.

Regionally speaking (as far as the U.S. is concerned), here are a few tips to consider:

If you work with couples in one of the 19 marriage equality states (or the District of Columbia), it remains ever-so-true that you need to take your services beyond gay-friendly if you want to be competitive. This is especially true in markets where marriage equality has been around for a fair share of years. It is essential that you update the language on your website, marketing materials, vendor listings, and contracts to be inclusive of all brides and grooms. In your markets, same-sex couples have choice so you need to showcase your industry skill set and gay wedding competence. Also be sure to request Reviews from past same-sex couples to get their valuable feedback on your services and show other couples searching for their wedding day team that you have experience in serving all kinds of couples and happy past clients!

Continue reading

» Where Has My Facebook Engagement Gone?

Pro to Pro Insights

Ariane Fisher

Ariane Fisher is the Co-founder of Storymix Media. Their WeddingMix product is a fun and easy way to crowdsource photos and videos from guests to create an edited wedding video. Ariane is an Apple Certified Professional Video Editor and has been published in Forbes, Crain’s Chicago Business, WeddingMBA, and Rangefinder Online. She has been featured on the ABC evening news in Chicago and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

The writing was on the wall 2 years ago when Facebook debuted newsfeed ads. As businesses began to pay for placement in the newsfeed, it was inevitable that organic reach (unpaid posts) would plummet. And without organic reach, engagement plummeted as well. Bye, bye, free Facebook.

Yes and no. By staying on top of the latest updates, you can continue to enjoy great engagement with your existing and potential clients.

In this article, you’ll learn what type of posts are actually shown to your fans, how to get the content for your posts and how to actually post them.

What is organic reach and engagement?

Organic reach is how many of your fans actually see your posts without you paying for it. If you have 1000 fans that you worked hard to gain, prior to newsfeed ads, Facebook may have shown your posts to 250 of them – for free. Now you can pay $5 – $30 to reach that many of your fans.

Engagement is any interaction between your fans and your post – like, comment or share. It’s what tells you that your fans are alive and paying attention to you.

What posts will Facebook show to my fans?

Facebook uses a mathematical algorithm to decide which posts they will show the most. Facebook’s latest algorithm changes favor something near and dear to my heart – video.

As you can see from the photo below, they are showing posts with video more than the others.

Where Has My Facebook Engagement Gone?

The important thing to notice is the engagement. The more your fans like, share, comment on your posts, the more Facebook shows other posts, like status updates, links and photos. In the case of video posts, they also consider if the fans watched a video for more than a few seconds in determining engagement.  Continue reading

» 4 Ways to Turn a Negative Review into a Positive

With our July review sweepstakes going on, your business is likely receiving a lot of reviews! While we hope most of them are about the wonderful experience the couple had with your business, we realize that not every event is a home run and some couples’ perceptions are not within your control. Negative reviews happen on occasion, and it’s imperative that your business be prepared to handle them in the best way possible.

4 Ways to Turn a Negative Review into a PositiveMany wedding and event professionals consider negative reviews to be devastating, but they don’t always have to be! There are many ways you can view a less than perfect review as a positive for your business. Take a deep breath, remember it’s not the end of the world, and read through our list below to find out why you should view a negative review as a positive for your business.

Give legitimacy to your other reviews

Everyone loves 5-star reviews – businesses love having them, and couples love seeing them. Having all perfect, 5-star reviews, however, may make your business appear to be less than honest. From a consumer’s perspective, think about how you would react if you saw only 5-star reviews on a business’ page. The simple truth is that while reviews from real customers are powerful, there’s also the tendency to distrust a business if they look too good to be true! Having one or a few reviews your business may consider “negative” makes all your fantastic reviews more legitimate, and it helps the potential customer understand both sides of the equation. The more they know what to expect from dealing with your business, the better they can make an informed decision. And remember: one review will not make or break your business!

Help identify areas of improvement

When working an event, a couple might not be comfortable sharing negative feedback with you in person out of fear of an awkward moment. The review is where you could learn things about your products or services that need improvement! Maybe your flowers started to wilt early, or one of your catering staff was a bit abrasive towards guests, and you weren’t aware! In this way, you should be thankful for negative reviews; you can’t fix something that could be costing you business unless you know about it. This sort of intel from clients helps you fix those problem areas so that the next client won’t have the same issues, and your business will be better for it and continue to flourish.

Continue reading

» How to Cultivate Repeat Customers

Many wedding professionals do more than just weddings – they’re also event professionals who may provide products or services for birthdays, baby showers, corporate events and more. While many wedding services are one-time-only, others can be applied to different types of events. In those cases, each time you book a client for a wedding or event lays the groundwork for a turning that person into a client for life.

Below are a few guidelines to follow to help you cultivate repeat customers who will come back to work with you again and again!

How to Cultivate Repeat CustomersBe Personable

It’s important to build a relationship with all your clients. Having a relationship with your clients will lead to them thinking of you first when planning their next event! To build that relationship, always respond to any communication (phone calls, emails) in a timely fashion to show that you are reliable and they can depend on you to exceed their expectations. Whenever possible, meet with your clients in person so that you can establish a stronger connection than just a voice on a phone call.

Pro Tip: If you’re juggling multiple clients and have a hard time remember who is who, you can upload an image to their booking using our tools in the Clients tab! This is a great way to make sure you remember each of your clients by name and face, and it will help you remember them longer.

Be Their Guide

Most of your clients have never been married before, so keep this in mind when you begin working with them. While they’re new to the engagement process, you’re not! You are a helpful resource for them, guiding them in the right direction to make their day perfect. Gain their trust by sharing your experiences with them and you’ll build a stronger relationship.

Continue reading

» 5 Tips for Better Client Conversations

In the life of a busy Wedding Pro, there are tons of client conversations. Whether you’re responding to an initial inquiry or going back and forth on the little details of an event, how you communicate is very important. Even though you may have a million other things to do, it’s important to make every client feel like a star!

To help you have better client conversations, check out our five tips below.

5 Tips for Better Client ConversationsConnect before you sell

While you might have many appointments during the course of a regular day, each client needs to feel a personal connection with you and your business. Before you start going over the details of the couples’ wedding or event, you’ll need to establish a connection with the couple. Get to know them a little more, which can inform your decisions throughout the rest of the appointment. You should also take the time to talk a little about yourself so they understand a bit more about you and why your business best fits their needs.

Take it slow

This tip goes hand in hand with the point above; don’t rush into your sales pitch. Let them talk about themselves and the event. Listen carefully to what the couple says so you can remember the little details, and repeat those details to them in the course of your pitch so they know you were paying attention. The more comfortable the couple feels with you, the more likely they are to remember that feeling afterward.

Continue reading