» NACE Experience: Special Savings for WeddingWire Members

NACE Experience logoWeddingWire believes in the value of ongoing education to support your business growth in the wedding industry, and we’re excited to share a special offer to save on tickets to the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) Experience 2016! This three day educational conference for all catering and events industry professionals is being held July 17-20 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Register today and save $50 on your ticket by using promo code WPM50E16, applied during checkout.

The NACE Experience includes:

  • Design Experience, a one of a kind interactive demonstration of the latest trends and design tips
  • Culinary Experience, a multi-sensory experience that lets participants enjoy culinary treasures at their seats as they are being prepared on site
  • National speakers from all over the industry, such as personalities from the Food Network, Hard Rock International, and more

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy breakout sessions, award-winning national keynote speakers, networking with other catering and event professionals, and a Marketplace Expo with top industry companies – including WeddingWire!

For additional details, view the full schedule, speakers, and travel and hotel information, and follow along on social media with #NACEEXP16.

Planning to attend? You’re invited to join the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau for their Wedding Planning Destination Experience 2016, immediately following the NACE Experience 2016. Conference attendees who attend the event receive one complimentary hotel night with their registration!

nace experience hotel

» Wedding PR: Let’s Change the Conversation about Networking

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you, as well as more about our new wedding PR kits, please visit us today.

My life in the wedding industry began with three martinis at an industry networking group when I was fresh out of college. It gave me just enough confidence (liquid courage?) to run as a write-in candidate for the inaugural PR chair of the local wedding association. Much to my surprise, I won that evening and it was the catalyst that led to everything else – increased sales for my employer, wonderful friendships, new job opportunities, and even the chance to manage that same association when I first opened the doors to OFD.

Wedding PR: Let’s Change the Conversation about NetworkingSo as you can imagine, I’m a big proponent of networking. In fact, if there were some sort of wedding industry networking fan club, I would be the president of it. Or, at the very least, the PR chair.

Here’s the thing about networking: it wears on you after awhile. And I get it – you start to really get tired of the elevator pitches and the constant card exchanging.  So today I’m here to ask you to rethink networking and instead, consider a new approach. At this year’s WeddingWire World, I shared the top networking notions you need to throw out the window and today, I’m asking you to consider the same.

So how do we change the conversation about networking?

Stop telling yourself that networking is supposed to be fun.
You have goals for your wedding business (and if you don’t, stop reading this immediately and get to work on those!) and there are things you should be doing to help you achieve those goals. Statistically speaking, vendor referrals is one of the leading ways that couples find out about you so more than likely, networking is a necessary component to your promotional strategies.

But for some reason, we assume that we network because it’s fun. I don’t blame you – event people throw great events. But if the only reason you’re going is to kick back with your friends and joke about the endless trend of mason jars, you’re not going to see a solid ROI for your time. Instead, select your networking events because they’re the key to getting you closer to your business goals.

Continue reading

» Meal Companion Networking: Who, How & Why

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.

The art of face-to-face networking is not a random event; it requires time and dedication to get the most out of the events or groups you attend. If you are a member of an association or networking group that features a seated meal at meetings, there are a number of unique strategies to help you build a one-to-one relationship over a meal.

meal-companion-networking-tipsThere are several options on choosing your meal companion; each with different rationale.

  1. Sit with random people you don’t know.
  2. Sit with friends and/or people you do know.
  3. Choose to sit with one or two people you would like to know more about, and perhaps do business with.
  4. Sit down at an empty table, letting random friends, peers or strangers join you.

All of the options are completely acceptable, but I recommend choosing option three. The most effective way to expand your professional circle is to invite one or two specific people to sit with you and engage with them.

Who: Selecting which members to get to know

An ideal strategy for planning to build a new connection is to find out in advance which people have RSVP’d for the event. Even if an RSVP list is not available to you in advance, be the first one to arrive and review meeting badges on the registration table.

Prior to the meeting, select four to five people who you would like to get to know. Think about why those people may be important as part of your circle of business contacts. Connect with them during cocktails, chat a bit, and ask one or two of them to join you for the meal. If not already committed, one of them will likely accept your invitation.

How: Learning more about other members

With the popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, bios or profiles are usually published for members of each platform. Most often, people do elect to make their profile ‘public’, with minor or no limitations on access. Therefore, no one should be shocked if another businessperson reads a profile to learn a little bit more about them.

Continue reading

» 4 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

In honor of #GivingTuesday, check out our 4 ways to give back this holiday seasonFor busy wedding professionals, it can be hard to find the time to do any extracurricular activities. With the holidays quickly approaching, you’re likely to add shopping, baking, and hosting to your to-do list! There’s no shame in enjoying the holiday season, but it’s important to remember those who are less fortunate and in need of our help.

Since today is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to celebrating generosity and giving back, we thought we’d share a few of the ways you can give back this holiday season:

Volunteer

If you can spare some time out of your packed schedule, volunteering is one of the easiest ways to give back to the community! There are a ton of opportunities to help in your local area – every city has food banks, homeless shelters, animal shelters, youth clubs, or other organizations that could use some extra help around the holidays. There are also plenty of national charitable organizations you can look into for events coming to your area where you can donate your time.

Donate food

There’s typically no shortage of leftover food after a wedding! Instead of letting it go to waste, consider the possibility of donating it to a food bank or shelter in your area. Donating food requires little extra time on your part while benefiting many who are in desperate need. Programs like the New England NACE Feeding Our Neighbors program facilitate this process with local food rescue operations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island – learn more about the laws surrounding food donation here.

Continue reading

» Educational Opportunity for Planners: ABC Conference

Attention Wedding Consultants and Planners! Have you registered for the annual conference from our partner the Association of Bridal Consultants? Enjoy two full days of education with industry speakers, networking and fun in sunny Orange County, CA this November 8-10th.

Learn more about the California Dreamin’ conference and save your spot here! Additionally, WeddingWire members can save and get a ticket for $595 with promo code WWABC for an extended time, now through July 30th. There are also Expo opportunities available, should your business want to showcase your services to top Wedding Consultants.ABC Conference 2015

Questions? Email Dena Davey at corp@bridalassn.com to learn more!

» Top Problems to Watch for in Networking Groups

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

A client of mine recently joined a local wedding association (on my recommendation) and boy did that leave us something to talk about.

Over the past five years, I have seen a rapid decline in local associations. The association my client tried out has always been a good fit for me, but when he showed up he had a very different experience. I have withheld the name of the association, so I want those of you involved in associations to take a long hard look and see if something similar is happening with your group.

Top Problems to Watch for in Networking GroupsHere are the top three problems I’ve noted with many networking groups:

  • There are too many cliques and friend groups
  • They don’t always practice what they preach
  • They have too many wedding professionals in one or two categories

Too many cliques

My client is a master networker as he has led groups previously as well as has 25 years experience in going to meetings like this one. When he walked in, he was not greeted by other members and he felt like an outsider. This is one of the biggest problems I hear about with any networking groups in the wedding industry and beyond. This is actually a big problem because people are uncomfortable in these situations and gravitate to those they know. This gravitation towards cliques makes it harder for new members to feel welcomed.

Whether you are new to your networking group or are an existing member, take this part of my client’s story to heart. Remember what it was like the last time you showed up somewhere and didn’t know anyone. Wouldn’t you have appreciated if someone made an effort to make you feel welcome? Having a group of friends in a networking group is great, but remember to look beyond your own clique and reach out to other members whenever you can.

Not practicing what they preach

At this particular association meeting there was a professional panel, and every panelist agreed that being responsive is key to establishing connections in the industry. They suggested that 24 hours was more than enough time to respond. My client wanted to connect outside of the meeting after meeting them face to face, so he wrote a very professional follow up email with these folks to start building a relationship. As of this writing, 3 of the 4 panelists have yet to respond.

Continue reading

» Success by Association: Network, Collaborate & Get Awarded

Success by AssociationWebinar recap!

In the competitive wedding and events industry, networking and industry recognitions are two leading factors to building your reputation and boosting your professional success.

This week, as part of our monthly educational webinar series for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon shared his insights into the value of networking, and how collaborations and joining associations can help your business grow.

Check out some of Andy’s tips below!

What are the best places to network?

  • National Association meetings (industry or skill-based) and local chapter meetings
  • Local industry networking groups
  • National conferences
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau
  • Community events

When you make a new connection, how can you continue the conversation and build a professional relationship?

Continue reading

» How to Avoid Becoming a Wedding Industry Cliché

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.

The all-time cliché success advice from business coaches is to just be yourself. If only life were so simple! In reality, such an approach works for a scant few. As a professional in the wedding industry, it’s important that you rise above maintaining the status quo and come up with ways to be original.

To avoid becoming a wedding industry cliché, ask yourself these questions, below.

How to Avoid Becoming a Wedding Industry ClichéAre you aiming to be the best or to be the most unique?

One can debate who is best at something all day long, but that’s completely subjective and cliché. It’s far better to be different, striking, unusual, interesting in one or various ways. People and work that are truly set apart from the crowd don’t have to shout (figuratively or literally), “Look at me, look at me!” Their work and personal style do that without the accompanying fireworks.

Do you have 10 years of experience or 1 year of experience 10 times?

Many professionals stop growing after a few years in one job or profession. They simply start to repeat themselves. Yawn! Whether you change your services or start coming up with out-of-the-box wedding ideas, be original. Over time it becomes clear that your company produces fresh work for each client. Don’t keep giving tired, repeat performances – try something new and different each year.

Are you obsessively comparing your business to your competition?

Seeing your competition at work, on websites, or in any forum will automatically cause you to compare yourself. If you’re looking for inspiration, find it at conferences, on websites and photos from across the country and around the world. Don’t just copy. Find an inspiration that amplifies or alters what you do.

Continue reading

» Networking Etiquette for Trade Associations

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.

One of the key marketing channels for wedding professionals is networking with their peers through industry trade associations and other membership organizations. Building and maintaining business relationships through such organizations are key to referrals and introductions to engaged couples for potential bookings.

Part of the appeal of participating in organizations is the excitement of attending events and simply mingling with fellow wedding professionals. Over time, many of these business relationships become close collaborative partnerships and creative teams. That’s why it is essential to choose the organizations wisely, develop a plan for participation and do not over commit.

Networking Etiquette for Trade AssociationsFinding Where You Fit In

In most geographic areas there are more opportunities for networking than there is time in your week! Your experience as a wedding professional will help direct your involvement. Whether it is a chapter-based national or regional organization, the strength of its board of directors is the major indicator of success or failure.

Key questions to consider when evaluating trade associations:

  • Do I know and like some of the board members?
  • Are the general membership meetings well organized and run smoothly?
  • Are meetings facilitated by several people or is it a one-person show?
  • Is there an educational component, as well as a networking component to the meeting?
  • Would you be proud to bring your best client to meeting of interest to them?

Learning the Ropes

When you’ve joined an organization, one of the wisest moves you can make is to have coffee or a meal with one of the board members to understand the association culture, find out where you can contribute, what you can learn, and how you can benefit professionally. A great way to create personal or company awareness is donate services for a meeting. However, the donation should be a good fit for what you have to offer. Below are a few ways to donate your time and effort:
Continue reading

» New York Pros: Revolutionize Your Business with Alan Berg

New York Pros: Revolutionize Your Business with Alan Berg

Revolutionize your wedding business and be ready to tackle the busy summer wedding season!

WeddingWire is proud to sponsor the Buffalo Bridal Association’s one-day workshop, featuring WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg on Tuesday, July 8th at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.

The day will be full of eye-opening educational sessions on a variety of topics, including creating an exceptional customer experience, having better email conversations and making the most of bridal shows. The workshop will end with a post-dinner power-packed evening session titled, “Bride’s Buying Signals – How Wedding Pros Can Close More Sales, Today!”

Powered by WeddingWire and led by Alan Berg, this is a “can’t miss” workshop for New York area Pros! Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet members of the WeddingWire team.

Register today to receive special May pricing and reserve your seat at either the afternoon sessions, evening session, or both.

Register now >>

» Tips for Working with Wedding Planners and Getting on Their Preferred Vendors List

Laurie-HartwellThis article was written by Laurie Hartwell. Laurie is the owner of A Wedding To Remember. With offices in Orlando, New York City, Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta her firm strives to offer top notch, affordable wedding planning and coordination services. She is also the Founder and CEO of The Bridal Society, an organization that offers Wedding Planning Certification Courses in cities across the US. As the main instructor for the course, Laurie tries to share her 20 years of experience with her students to instill the importance of professionalism, character, morals and fairness in the wedding industry. www.TheBridalSociety.com. Check out their upcoming events here.

In addition to constant advertising and excellent reviews, your business can benefit greatly from having a healthy relationship with one or more wedding planners in your community and networking with other local professionals. Once you establish a relationship with a wedding planner and you have proven to him/her that you offer a great product at a reasonable price then they have the ability to send you business on a regular basis. Wedding planners are your repeat customer, so being on their preferred vendor list should be a top priority. Wedding planners often sell their clients on your services through recommendations well before your initial meeting so by the time they meet with you they are practically ready to sign.

Here are some key things wedding planners and wedding professionals you would like to network with (and their clients!) are looking for in a wedding vendor partnership:

Be on time. Make an effort to arrive at least 15 Bride With Wedding Planner In Marqueeminutes early for all meetings. There is nothing that turns a client (and her wedding planner) off more than you being late. Being on time tells the wedding planner and client that you value their time just as much as your own. Always be on time, but if traffic or another issue forces you to be late make sure you communicate with the wedding planner so they can make needed adjustments to the schedule. Many times a wedding planner will schedule meetings with several vendors throughout the day so make sure you communicate, so they can reschedule other appointments accordingly.

Have the right attitude. There is nothing more frustrating to a wedding planner than sitting down with a vendor and immediately having to endure all the gory details about everything that went wrong with your morning. Save those conversations for your friends or family members at another time. When you are meeting for business keep it professional. Having a professional demeanor will give you an edge on the competition!

Focus on a team approach.  Are you easy to work with on the wedding day? Are you sensitive to the needs of the other wedding vendors? Always be willing to cooperate and be flexible when unexpected circumstances come up. If you give the impression that you are not a team player it is unlikely you will make it on anyone’s preferred vendor list. Continue reading

» The Value of Education for Wedding Pros

As a busy wedding and event professional, we know that it may be difficult to find the time to invest in yourself and your continued education. However, educational events like top industry and category-specific conferences, as well as joining top national associations and attending local chapter and networking events for other Wedding Pros are incredibly valuable.

Three keys to growing your business and expanding your reputation through education include:

  1. Attending the best educational industry conferences for your business (see our list below for some ideas!)
  2. Reviewing top Associations and groups in your service category and local location and considering a membership for added education, networking opportunities, special member benefits and more
  3. Networking with other local Pros You Know and attending events to make new connections – they could lead to your next big referral (and don’t forget to return the favor!)

Show your commitment to your business and personal growth by exploring these valuable education events and opportunities. Here is a list of a few of the education and association conferences WeddingWire and our Education Experts will be at this year – we would love to see you there! Check them out for more information and to see if they are a fit for your business.

  • WeddingWire World: Learn with WeddingWire! Attend our own dedicated user’s conference full of top educational sessions created to grow your business from the industry’s leaders, one-on-one customer support sessions to maximize your account, as well as great networking  opportunities with industry peers and more. There is exciting news coming your way about WeddingWire World 2014 – stay tuned for details coming soon!
  • WPPI: The Wedding & Portrait Photography Conference and Expo is taking place in Las Vegas, NV on March 3-5, 2014. Attendees learn tips, strategies, news and more through classes, seminars and expo booths dedicated for professional wedding photographers.  Continue reading