» How to Build Your Network and Collect More Content

Photo by Vanessa Joy Photography

This article was written by Vanessa Joy, Owner & Photographer of Vanessa Joy Photography.

I remember the first time I went to a wedding convention. It seemed like everyone knew everyone else; but the only person I knew was the bathroom attendant because my naturally introverted self would frequently hide there. I’m sure I’m not alone in being able to empathize with DJ Tanner from Full House, eating alone in the bathroom on her first day of high school. For the record, no, I didn’t eat in the bathroom – ew.

If you’re a budding industry professional, you may notice that a large part of the industry is who you know. Now, that’s not to say our livelihood is superficial in any way. It’s to draw attention to just how powerful networking is in our line of work. We’re a large industry, but a small community.

Networking may seem daunting, but building relationships within the wedding world is crucial not just to the success of your business, but to your enjoyment of it as well. After all, don’t you want to work with your friends every weekend? Here are 4 tips to up your networking game.

Read up on it

If you’re not a natural go-getter or social butterfly, it’s ok! Heck, I was homeschooled for 9 years of my life. Social graces were not on my side for most of my life. I had to learn them the good old-fashioned way: reading a book. Ok fine… listening to one on audible.

I do recommend Carnegie’s book, but another favorite of mine is Never Eat Alone. As an Italian, this is pretty much a rule for me anyway, but bringing it to business takes it to a whole new level. Read it and you’ll have breakfast, lunch and dinner dates at the next WeddingWire World no problem.

Use social

In what other century have you had direct access to someone’s personal line, without needing to get through their secretary? None. Thanks to social media, you have that power right at your fingertips.

Don’t underestimate what you can use social media for. I recently covered a HUGE part of this on a recent WeddingWire webinar Social Media: A Guide for Wedding Professionals. You should be using social media to connect with as many other wedding professionals as you can. Here’s an even bigger tip – connect with professionals before an upcoming conference by searching the conference’s hashtag. Bingo! You’ve made friends before you even stepped off the plane.

Stop reaching for the stars

Now I know your mom told you otherwise, but I’m here to bring you down to earth. As fabulous as it would be to take my advice from the previous tip and contact David Tutera and Silvia Weinstock and become besties immediately, it’s probably not going to happen. Why? Not only is everyone already barking up that tree, but they’ve been in the business for a while and already have their circle of tight friends.

Instead, make your own referral network. Befriend the next Marcy Blum or Fred Marcus (sorry to keep using NYC Wedding Vendors… it’s just where I’m from) by reaching out to people on your level of experience and clientele. Build each other up to be the next big thing.

Find photographers

It’s always funny to me when I hear that other wedding professionals have a hard time getting photos from photographers. You might not know this, but wedding planners, caterers, florists, bands, dj’s and venues are like the holy grail to us wedding photographers. To me, you’re the key to clients, and usually luxury clients that’ll spend more money on photography.

However, I know that it can be hard to get photos, so inside this last tip, I’ve got a few more for you that’ll help you get more photos of your work that you can use on social media to show off your services and connect with other vendors.

Offer Something, Anything

Now, I do not charge most vendors to use my photos on social media from weddings that I’ve worked. A lot of photographers feel the same way and are happy for the cross-promotion. However, contacting a photographer and expecting them to give you photos for free isn’t going to fly. It’s only polite to offer something in return, even if it’s not monetary.

Help Submit Weddings

You wouldn’t believe how much work is involved for a photographer after a wedding. Usually it’s where your wedding headaches end, and ours begin. Often when we’re being asked for photos, it’s another thing on our long to-do list.

However, if we give you photos, you can help us by submitting the wedding photos to popular magazines and blogs. If you have connections to some – even better! Obviously, make sure this is ok with the photographer first. But typically we’d be thrilled to have this taken off our plate and it’s a win-win when the photos get published.

Offer Future Collaboration

Us photographers need (and should want) to build relationships too. When you’re asking for photos, find ways to work with us again. Maybe you’re a makeup artist and you can offer to do hair and makeup for the photographer’s next headshot (we all need updated ones!). Or perhaps you’re an officiant that can provide some ceremony text that’ll make for a great blog post on the photographer’s blog. You could even suggest doing a styled shoot and get a whole group of vendors involved. The possibilities are endless, but if you start your intentions with serving other people, it’s amazing how much more you’ll get in return than you originally hoped for.

Use the Photos

Once you’ve snagged some photos and hopefully started a wonderful new work friendship, don’t hesitate to use the photos for LOTS of things! The more times you use them, the more the photographer will benefit from the cross-promotion. Make videos (super amazing for social posts) like these marketing and communication videos I’ve made right here. Use the photos alone in tons of social media posts like the ones I suggest here.

The Wedding Industry may ebb and flow but it’s always built on relationships. Spend time cultivating new ones and nurturing the ones you have and you’ll never be without work.

Vanessa Joy has been an influential photographer in the wedding community for a decade. Starting her photographic journey in 1998, she has since earned 5 college degrees, and has spoken at almost every major convention and platform in the industry such as CreativeLIVE, Wedding MBA, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, WeddingWire World, and Mobile Beat. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, her clients love working with her and industry peers love to learn from her generous, informative and open-book style of teaching. Check out more of her resources at www.BreatheYourPassion.com

» Consider SlideShare to Gain More Customers

Interested in reaching new audiences and sharing content or resources you created?

Consider SlideShare, an online presentation website used by professionals throughout the world, with a rapidly growing network.

What is SlideShare? SlideShare is a website that allows you to create an account for your business and add your personalized messaging, links to your website and social networks and other brand elements, to share content created by your business with the world (and can be added to you blog, website, social media and more). SlideShare now ranks in the top 300 websites, so it may be the time for your business to consider creating a SlideShare presence. It’s easy to create a profile for your business and start reaching SlideShare users!

Consider SlideShare to Gain More Customers

Here are some reasons to your business may want to try out SlideShare:

Web traffic: With over 60 million unique visitors every month, SlideShare is one of the highest-traffic websites on the Internet today. This means that potential clients are able to find your content on the site, and learn about your business before they even realize they need your services. SlideShare gives you more exposure to your audience and boosts your search engine credibility.

Tell your story: Similar to the way you can tell your company’s story on social media, SlideShare allows you to show a bit of personality and establish a deeper connection with potential clients. Since users can also comment on your presentations, you can open a dialogue at any time. Focus on sharing content that your clients would find interesting, helpful or engaging (like wedding planning tips, steps for hosting a bridal shower, or seasonal event trends).

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» Engaging Your Audience with Curated Content

Engaging Your Social Audience with Curated ContentWhether you’re new to social media or a seasoned pro, every brand inevitably hits it: the content wall. You know you need to be posting on all your social properties several times a week (or several times a day in the case of Twitter), but just how many times can you alter the same, “Check out today’s post!” messaging? If you’re struggling to keep your queue topped off, curated content may be the answer.

What is curated content? Simply, it is sharing great content from a trusted, reputable resource (with appropriate attribution and links!), on your social networks, blogs or site.

Before you go there, we know it’s somewhat counter-intuitive – why would you post someone else’s content? While you always want to position yourself as an industry expert, that doesn’t mean you can’t position yourself as a resource for your social audience and the wedding and/or events industry at large.

To get you started with your content curation strategy, here are four reasons you should take the plunge!

  • Curating content from industry leaders and/or communities makes you a resource. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that someone in your industry knows a lot about the way your industry works. In fact, sharing other people’s knowledge helps establish you as a resource in your community. As an aggregator of interesting and helpful content, your audience will value your level expertise and perceive you as constantly “in the know.” Even better, your audience will also value your point of view more when you do post original content, as your business is seen to have a finger on the pulse of the industry!
  • Curating content from industry leaders and/or communities builds relationships. The biggest concern for businesses that choose to curate content is that they’re worried about being perceived as plagiarists – a concern that can easily be absolved by always linking to the original article/post and giving due credit. The benefit of following this golden rule is that you’re bound to get some attention from your sources. They’ll be happy you’re sharing your content because, well, who wouldn’t want free publicity?! They’ll most likely thank you for sharing (if they’re polite) and remember you later. If you’re diligent, the relationships you build on social media can carry over into the offline world in the form of referrals!
  • Curating content from friendly firms and partners enhances both of your networks. You’re likely to have a few friends in the industry (hello, WeddingWire!), or partners with whom you’ve worked a few events. They’d love a shout out! Not only will this deepen your relationship with a given business, they’re also likely to reciprocate. This can help grow both your audiences if you’re in the same vertical, as well as help you cross-sell for each other! You can never go wrong with showing your friends some love.
  • Curating content provides a break from posting the same content over and over. If you’re posting your own sales-y content every day, your social media properties are going to quickly lose steam. If a person or company wants to know about your products/services specifically, they can always visit your website. You’ll need to provide some other value in order to gain and keep your social media fans. By providing your fans with a mix of your own content and other content relevant to their needs, you’ll not only get them to your page, but you’ll also keep them there.

Sharing other businesses’ content can provide your business with a wealth of benefits – social media audience growth, engagement, and retention to name a few. The relationships you build on social media properties are similar to those cultivated at networking events in that you’re growing your network of fans and brand advocates that will lead to more happy customers.

While we’re on the subject of social media thought leaders – head over to our Facebook page and be sure to follow us on Twitter for helpful tips for wedding industry pros!

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» Go Viral: Couples Won’t Ignore These 7 Types of Photos

Christine Dyer is a social media expert and the founder of BridalTweet.com. Christine shares her social media expertise with the wedding industry through a series of free wedding marketing videos. As a testament of Christine’s social media success, BridalTweet now has over 10,000 Facebook fans, 37,000 Twitter followers, and 3,000 Pinterest followers. Prior to launching BridalTweet, Christine Dyer was the Director of Social Media Marketing at American Express where she led the development and growth of their Facebook fan pages, which had 1.6 million fans. Christine received a B.S. and M.B.A. in marketing from Fordham University.

Ever wonder why some photos, videos or blog posts go viral?  Many times, the business didn’t even spend a dime to make this happen.  Well, believe it or not, there’s somewhat of a science to making this phenomenon occur.

To make my content spread like wildfire, here are three rules that I like to follow:

  1. Evoke Emotion.  First and foremost, if you want your content (i.e. photos, blog posts, social media posts, etc.) to go viral, then it MUST evoke an emotion that gets people excited or fired up – in a good or bad way.
  2. Create Content that You’re Passionate About.  If you laugh or get emotional every time you see your video or photo, then others will too. If you can’t wait to share something with everyone, then others will love it.
  3. Check out 7 Types of Photos Clients Won’t Ignore. Did you know that 80 percent of Pinterest’s photos are repins? Below, I included a few examples of the top 7 photos that went viral on BridalTweet’s Pinterest account. What do they have in common?  First and foremost, they include beautiful and unique wedding details.  Some of them also include DIY elements or celebrity news for added buzz.

Looking for more inspiration? Take a look at one of BridalTweet’s Pinterest boards to see what types of photos have already gone viral. These are photos that have been ‘repinned’ at least 50 times. Confused about how or why to use Pinterest?  Here’s a free webinar to help you!

Top Pins:

Beautifully rustic, bark wedding cake with flowers, 462 repins

How to make your own DIY wedding invitations for under $50, 343 repins

Beautiful cowboy-themed wedding, 175 repins

Cocktail drinks as wedding seating cards, 157 repins

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» Build Your Brand: Create a Custom URL

Bit.ly makes it easy for your business to have your own URL shortener for free. Getting your own custom URL will help you build your brand and enhance your credibility.

Follow the simple steps below or if you don’t feel like going through the effort – feel free to use ours! Just visit http://wedli.weddingwire.com/ paste your URL and hit the “Shorten!” button.

1. Buy a URL – Use one of these services to find an available URL. Just type in the word you want to include and it will display the options of domains that are available. Keep in mind it must be under 15 characters to work with Bit.ly Pro. After you select the URL you want, purchase it with GoDaddy.com or Domain.com.

2. Register on Bit.ly Pro – Sign up for a free Bit.ly Pro Beta account and set up your custom URL. It may take up to a week to set up, but once you do you will be able to view data and statistics through your account.

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