» Easy Peasy PR Tips for Small Business Pros

 

 

Being a small business owner comes with a lot of ups, downs and everything in between. It can sometimes feel like you are forever performing a balancing act of appointments, events, and paperwork- the list of responsibilities goes on and on.

Carving out time for things like public relations is important, but can sometimes end up towards the bottom of a never-ending to-do list. The good news is that there are tons of easy tips and tricks to help you grow your company’s PR profile that won’t compete with your busy schedule. Here are some great ways to get your name out there, regardless of how busy you are.

Embrace Real Wedding Submissions

Investing time into real wedding submissions is one of the best first steps you can take as a wedding pro. Getting your work in front of engaged couples on wedding blogs and magazines can have a huge impact on your business. However, in the last several years, it has become an increasingly competitive PR method and the submission pool is overflowing with weddings.

To catch the editor’s attention, follow these guidelines:

  • Do your research: Take some time to create a ‘wish list’ of where you want to be featured and take a look at the kinds of weddings they are showcasing. You want to match your work with the media outlets that feature complementary content so that your entry is competitive.
  • Follow the rules: Surprisingly, a lot of people who submit to wedding blogs don’t look at the guidelines on the website before sending in their submission. To stand out, be sure you are following the rules to the letter.
  • It’s all about the details: Nearly every wedding blog is looking for fresh details to highlight (think unique cakes, centerpieces, flowers, stationery and the like), so be sure to include them with each submission.
  • Tell a story: Images are the focal point of any wedding submission, but if the editor has the couple’s story to go along with those photos, you are more likely to grab their attention. Ask couples what inspired them, their engagement story, favorite wedding day moments, and anything else that makes their big day stand out.  

Use Free/Low Cost Tools

As business owners, the word ‘streamlining’ has a very important place in our vocabulary. Having easy-to-use tools in your back pocket can make a world of difference when it comes to managing your time.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Talkwalker Alerts: If you’ve got a feature coming out but don’t have time to keep checking the site to see if it’s live, Talkwalker Alerts is a must-have. It will notify you via email when your feature has been posted so you can get to promoting.
  • Wufoo: If you like to get insight from clients, Wufoo is the perfect tool for you. It is an easy-to-use questionnaire builder that provides you with a link to send out once finalized. Once the form has been completed by the recipient, you will receive an email with their answers to know it has been submitted.
  • HARO: Short for Help a Reporter Out, HARO has been an integral part of my own business for years. Scouring the internet looking for press opportunities can be a full-time job, and this tool brings writers and editors on the hunt for expert commentary directly to your inbox.   

Offer Yourself as a Resource

Introduce yourself to your local mainstream outlets as a resource. Find out who writes about wedding content in local mainstream magazines and outlets, and make sure to find the best person to reach out to (hint: run a search on the word ‘wedding’ and see what comes up). Send an email to introduce yourself and let them know your area of expertise, as well as the best way to reach you for future articles. 
With these tips in your arsenal, it’s time to take out that to-do list and move your public relations efforts up a few pegs- trust me, you won’t regret it!   

Exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR agency OFD Consulting. She also leads the newly launched OFD Collective, a membership based community of wedding professionals seeking PR education and publicity opportunities for their business.

» Niche PR: How to Become the “Go-To” Expert in your Arena

Webinar recap!Niche, Webinar, PR, Marketing, Weddings, Expert, Education

In the often-saturated wedding market, a niche will help you stand out and cut back on competition. Defining a niche allows you to specialize in an area that suits your talents and personality, gives focus to your marketing, and helps you attract your ideal clients.

During this webinar for Premium members, Education Expert Meghan Ely shared the steps to identifying your niche, promoting your expertise to your target audience, and implementing PR strategies to grow your business.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Showcase your niche in your content. Your website content, social media strategy, and any other owned channels should clearly reflect your niche. In addition to your bio, portfolio, and client testimonials, add a press page and blog to your website to highlight your expertise and demonstrate your capabilities.
  • Introduce yourself as an expert to the media. Consider what media your ideal client is consuming and target those outlets. Start by sending a friendly email to introduce yourself as an expert and a resource in your niche field — and be sure to include a few brief story ideas, too.
  • Pitch yourself for guest writing and speaking opportunities. Review your topics and research opportunities; focus on those that will reach your target audience. Hone your messaging and send a concise, friendly pitch with a few examples of your work. When it comes to speaking engagements, start small, evolve your topics overtime, and never stop practicing.
  • Pursue real wedding submissions. Research opportunities, guidelines, and editorial calendars to determine the best fit and strategy for your business. Be sure to follow the rules of exclusivity and prioritize the opportunities that will reach your ideal audience.

For more tips and additional details about these recommendations, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member accounts to view anytime.

» 4 Easy Ways to Reduce Distractions at Appointments

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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.

These days it often seems like everyone is busier than ever, with shorter attention spans.  Knowing this may be true for your clients, it’s your job to keep appointments focused and distractions to a minimum. This advice goes for everything from the physical design and décor of your meeting space, to the background and lighting.

Customize your space for your audience.

If your business has multiple audiences for weddings, corporate parties, bar/bat mitzvahs, even funerals, it’s a good idea to have a way to change the visuals when you meet with them. When a bar mitzvah parent is coming in for a meeting, they should be seeing bar mitzvah art on the walls, bar mitzvah videos playing on your TVs and bar mitzvah images on your printed collateral materials. The same goes for your other audiences. I’ve seen quite a few wedding pros’ offices that use flat screen TVs instead of printed photos, so they can change the imagery. So, unless you’re the photographer, and you’re selling large printed and framed photos, you can try this, too. You can put a nice picture frame around the TV to make it look and feel more like artwork.

How do they see it?

Sit where they will sit and see what’s in their line of sight that might be a distraction. Is there a large window behind you with distracting movement of people, or vehicles? Are there any maintenance items that need to be addressed, from dusting, to spider webs, to touching up paint and fixing broken ceiling tiles? Looking at it from their perspective is one of the things I do when I come for an on-site training. You can’t see it the way that they do, because you see it every day, another example of the Curse of Knowledge.

wedding professionals meet couples wedding vendor

Say what?

Are there sounds coming from outside or adjacent rooms that might be a distraction? Here’s another area where you don’t get credit for getting it right, but you lose points for getting it wrong. No one will thank you for reducing the distractions, but they’ll notice when it’s too noisy, dogs barking, babies crying, and when there are people talking or playing music loudly in the next room. Actually, that wasn’t totally correct. You will get thanked in the form of additional business by getting it right.

Give them your undivided attention.

While you’re in an appointment, and I know this sounds obvious, but don’t take phone calls, check your smartphone, or email. It’s rude and it shows them that they’re less important than whatever else you’re doing. When you’re the customer, you don’t like that, so, unless someone close to you is about to have a baby, or come out of surgery, silence your devices, and tell you staff (if you have a staff) not to interrupt you unless it relates to this customer. Most of our communication is non-verbal. People believe what they see more than what they hear, and your actions speak volumes. Giving them your undivided attention is key to gaining their trust. I’ve said this already, but it’s worth mentioning again; people buy from people they know, like and trust.

» WeddingWire World 2015: Meet the Speakers

We’re only one week away from WeddingWire World 2015, and tickets are sold out! We’re so excited to welcome hundreds of wedding and event professionals for two full days of education and information to help you grow your business.

In addition to your WeddingWire World favorites like CEO Timothy Chi, CMO Sonny Ganguly and our team of Education Experts, we’re proud to host the following special guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds! Get to know a little bit more about each of them below:

speakers-bill-rancic@2xBill Rancic

Entrepreneur & Author, Winner of NBC’s The Apprentice

Bill Rancic burst onto the national scene when he was hired by Donald Trump as the winner of the first season of NBC’s breakthrough program The Apprentice. The published author of a New York Times best-selling book, Bill wrote “You’re Hired: How To Succeed In Business And Life.” This book chronicles Bill’s successful life, experience, and proven advice. He continued to make a name for himself as an author by writing “Beyond the Lemonade Stand” to help educate and motivate young people worldwide about the value of money and how to leverage skills, talents and abilities at an early age. All proceeds from the sale of this book have gone to charity.

speakers-monte-durham@2xMonte Durham

Fashion Director, Bridals by Lori, TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta

Monte Durham is the Fashion Director at Bridals by Lori, the South’s premier bridal salon featured on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta. A native of small-town West Virginia, Monte describes his ascension from one-room schoolhouse to the fashion industry as an unlikely story. Before he found his way to bridal, Monte worked in fashion merchandising and hair styling, then made a name for himself as a Washington, DC-based bridal image consultant. His work has appeared in the pages of The Washingtonian, Martha Stewart Living, Brides Magazine, and several other publications. Monte’s no-nonsense fashion commentary and naughty sense of humor have made him a favorite and regular guest on CNN and Fox.

speakers-dana-herbert@2xDana Herbert

Owner, Desserts by Dana, Winner of Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker

Dana Herbert, owner of the award-winning Desserts by Dana, resides in Bear, Delaware. Chef Herbert lives and breathes in the sweet and artistic world of pastry art, where flavor and color come to life in his wonderful wedding cakes, sugar sculptures, custom cakes, and tasty miniature desserts for all occasions. Dana is an expert sugar artist with a number of nicknames. He’s best known as “The Sugar Daddy” because of his work with pulled and blown sugar, but is also known as Delaware’s “King of Cakes.” Dana leads a talented group of cake makers and designers that have been named top 100 Bakeries in the United States by Brides Magazine, routinely receive the Best of Delaware and People’s Choice Award for their amazing cakes. Chef Herbert was named Top Ten Cake Designers in the United States by Dessert Professional Magazine in 2014. Continue reading

» Introducing WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon

The WeddingWire team is thrilled to introduce our newest WeddingWire Education Expert to join our team of talented industry leaders – Andy Ebon! WeddingWire Education Experts provide Pros with valuable insight, tips and experience to help your wedding business grow and succeed through educational blog posts, articles, webinars and more.

A bit about Andy:

Andy Ebon 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. Among his notable business accomplishments, Andy was honored as San Francisco Small Business Owner of the Year and was recently listed on the Top 100 Small Business Experts on Twitter.

Andy kicked off his new role on the first stop of our WeddingWire World Tour in Miami this June! We look forward to having Andy present exciting topics such as Unlock the Superhero Within and Make Blogging Work for Your Business at the upcoming WeddingWire World Tour stops in Washington, DC, Chicago, Houston and Southern California.

In addition to speaking as part of the WeddingWire World Tour, Andy will be hosting select educational webinars held monthly for premium members, contributing posts regularly on the WeddingWireEDU blog, writing articles for the Education Center within your WeddingWire account and more.

Welcome, Andy – we are happy to have you!

Have any questions for Andy or topics you would like him to cover? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below!

» 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 2014

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.

As we approach the end of another year, it’s a great time to reflect on what went well, what didn’t and what you can do to make next year your best year ever. In my recent educational webinar, “4 C’s of an Engaging Website,” I touched on the factors of an engaging website and went through some real website examples with my suggestions. I’ve since received a lot of questions from Pros eager to learn more on the topic of websites.

Below I’ve outlined 7 things you can do to improve your website for a fantastic year. Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t mean your site is doing them well, or at all. Most will take little time and very little, if any, money.

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Website for 20141. Read the text on your site to make sure it’s up to date.

Many of us haven’t read the text on our websites since they launched. How long has it been? Read the pages out loud to make sure it sounds like you. Every person and every business has a “voice.” Make sure your website uses that same voice, as they’ll likely get to “hear” your site before they get to hear you. Do this one page at a time – you don’t have to tackle your whole site all at once. Check your tracking report (Google Analytics or whatever you use) and see which are the most visited pages. Start with those, as they’ll have the biggest impact.

2. Speak to them, about them, not about you.

While you’re reading the text on your site, make sure you’re using the words “you” and “your” more than you do words like “I,” “we,” “our,” etc. It’s not what you do that matters. It’s why what you do makes you the best solution for them.

3. Optimize the text for the people who visit first, then for the search engines.

In the latest search algorithms (geek-speak for the formula that a search engine uses to figure out which are the best results), search engines are looking for keywords and phrases with context. The days are gone where you could fool the search engines by stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny. You’ll actually get penalized for doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that way. Simply write to your visitor in a conversational way. Then, go back and fill in keywords to sentences where you implied them, but didn’t say them. For example, if your DJ site says “Well make all of the announcements, introductions and coordinate the cake cutting,” you could instead say, As your wedding DJ and Master of Ceremonies, well make all of the announcements, introduce you and your bridal party, and help coordinate the special wedding moments, such as your cake cutting.”

Continue reading

» WeddingWire Education Experts Give Thanks

As 2013 draws to a close with Thanksgiving already upon us, we’ve been thinking a lot about what we’re thankful for as a company.

WeddingWire is first and foremost thankful for all the wonderful wedding and event professionals who choose to use WeddingWire to help manage and promote their businesses! We love helping our Pros learn more about effective strategies and tools to grow, and we’re always on the lookout for new resources to help you be even more efficient! Thank you all for the amazing feedback and support over the past year.

We’re also thankful for our wonderful Education Experts who contribute their expertise and help bring an added point of view and expertise to our educational offering. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re all getting together to reflect on this year and talk about what we’re all thankful for.

Here’s what our Education Experts are thankful for this year!

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg“I’m thankful for the passion and generosity of the wedding and event professionals I am privileged to meet and work with this, and every year. You share your frustrations and triumphs with me. Without you attending my presentations, reading my articles and listening to my webinars, I’d be talking to myself… a lot. So, thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for caring. Your success is my success. Let’s keep reaching higher, together.”

Alan Berg, North America’s Leading Expert on the Business of Weddings & Events

WeddingWire Education Expert Christine Dyer“I’m most thankful for the 18,000 brides and wedding professionals who have joined the free wedding community at BridalTweet.com. Thank you for your inspiration, enthusiasm and support over the last four and a half years. Together, we’re taking a REAL leadership role in shaping how the wedding industry can continue to connect and prosper. It is my hope that you have been inspired by the connections that you have made at BridalTweet.  You can join now for free to use BridalTweet’s free services to grow your wedding business!”

– Christine Dyer, Founder, BridalTweet.com

WeddingWire Education Expert Meghan Ely“We here at OFD Consulting are particularly grateful for the outpouring of support and virtual high-fives with the arrival of the first OFD baby this past spring. From our staff forging ahead independently to our clients and colleagues who insisted on “meet baby OFD” Skype sessions, the response has been phenomenal and it made the transition back this summer that much more seamless. Additionally, we’re thankful that Mason jar trend is fading. :)”

– Meghan Ely, Owner, OFD Consulting

Photo by Carly Fuller

“This holiday season, I continue to remain grateful to our many LGBTQ allies who have provided voices of strength, clarity and compassion in our long journey toward marriage equality. We at GayWeddings.com are as grateful for the early allies who believed in us and our mission when we began our journey in 1999 as we are for those of you who have joined our family of allies in the years since – and will in the years to come. We are especially grateful to our friends at WeddingWire for believing in our company mission, our relationships, and marriage equality. And, of course, we would not be where we are today without the 60,000+ wedding professionals in our vendor directory who let engaged couples know every day that they are there for all loving couples, regardless of sexual orientation.”

– Kathryn Hamm, President, GayWeddings.com

WeddingWire Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer“After an incredibly challenging year in my personal life, I’m so very thankful for the continued support and friendship from my fellow Wedding Pros. Of course we’re business owners, but we’re also human beings who must find balance between work and family, something that can be difficult even when we aren’t in crisis. The strong relationships I’ve built among other Wedding Pros remind me just how fortunate we are all to be a part of such a warm, empathetic and caring industry.”

– Jennifer Reitmeyer, Owner, MyDeejay

Thanks again to all our incredible Education Experts for contributing to the wealth of knowledge we strive to provide for all our Pros! On behalf of the WeddingWire team, we hope you all enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.

What are you thankful for this holiday season? We would love to hear from you in your comments below! You can also email support@weddingwire.com at anytime with suggestions for us or questions about our programs.

» Wedding PR: The Art of Exclusivity

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

In the world of Wedding PR and real wedding submissions, exclusivity reigns supreme in the eyes of the editors. Wedding blogs and magazines aim to give their readers fresh content in an ongoing effort to deliver the latest inspiration, so it will be frowned upon if you enthusiastically begin submitting your favorite wedding of the season to every media outlet you come across.

Wedding PR: The Art of Exclusivity | WeddingWireEDUBefore you begin hand selecting editorial worthy detail shots, be sure you take the time to do your due diligence and become familiar with a publication or blog’s rules. Most media outlets will have a submission page that clearly outlines their preferences. If there is any question as to an exclusivity policy, then it’s best to submit the wedding to one spot at a time until you find it a home. This may mean longer waiting periods but far better to face this scenario than to build a reputation as someone who is known for only submitting “been there, done that” content.

A question that often comes up with wedding professionals (especially photographers) is that if sharing the same images is acceptable through marketing efforts, as well as with the wedding day team. The media as a whole tends to recognize that a wedding professional’s blog and website are some of their most effective marketing tools, so unless a particular wedding blog or magazine specifically states not to post it; it is acceptable to go ahead and give that wedding the online love it deserves.

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» Wedding PR: Dealing with Unhappy Clients

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

One of the biggest benefits of real wedding submissions is being able to share the good news of a feature with a former client.  It can be the proverbial cherry on the sundae if you already had a fantastic relationship with them!

Sometimes, however, you will find yourself in the midst of an unhappy bride or groom – whether it be because of unwanted attention or the media placement of the actual submission.

There are ways to handle this scenario, but the first question you need to ask yourself is how can this situation be avoided? Very simply put –prepare, prepare, prepare.  Make sure your contract cites that you may use images and information from the wedding for marketing and public relations services.  If you’re working with a couple that is particularly visible in their community, consider running the idea by them once again just for good measure.  This will be your best line of defense if you run into a “well I didn’t know you submitted weddings” situation.

Additionally, gather all of the information you need prior to the wedding so that you don’t need to involve them in the submission process at all. This allows you to avoid having to discuss your intentions or worse, feeling pressured to reroute your submission due to their wishes.  If they do know your intentions to submit, keep their expectations reasonable and do not guarantee that the wedding will be picked up. There are far too many variables outside of your control to be able to do so.

Furthermore, I would strongly urge you to not submit weddings of particularly difficult or press hungry brides. There is no media mention worth it in the world if it means you have to continue staying in contact with a former client that you’d rather just file under “glad their wedding day has come and gone.”

So what if you still have an unhappy client on your hands?  Honesty will always be your best policy.

Respond to them promptly and with a phone call, if possible.  If they are unhappy that they were featured, then assure her in the most sincere way possible that you had nothing but good intentions and were thrilled to see that an Editor loved the wedding as much as you did. If they are unhappy with the placement itself, you can potentially encourage her to resubmit to her favored media outlet, as long as she has permission from the photographer and includes a mention in the submission that the wedding has been featured elsewhere.

Ultimately, a real wedding feature is almost always going to be cause for celebration. In the unlikely event that you face push back from your bride, keep your chin up and the above tips in mind.

» Managing Your Business During Busy Season

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Summer is here, and with the high temperatures comes most Wedding Pros’ busiest event season. From April to October, many of us are frantically working to fulfill our contracts, and often, business planning and other non-urgent tasks get moved to the back burner.

With some creative scheduling and focused goal-setting, however, it is possible to continue to grow your business even in the crunch of busy season.

Here are some tips to keep you focused on your business’ “big picture” when you’re crazy busy:

  • Identify the have-to’s. Every wedding business has a basic set of tasks and workflows that must be completed in order to service your clients. Whether it’s ordering supplies, preparing timelines and other paperwork, or actually creating a product, these are the true essentials. By incorporating these into a concrete schedule, you’ll have a clearer idea of what time is left for business development, and you’ll be assured that nothing truly important is missed.
  • Block off some time for you. Taking time to recharge is especially important, and therefore deserves a dedicated spot on your schedule. Preventing burnout is key for being able to focus on making the most of your business.
  • Make a business wish list. What are the things you’ve been wanting to do for your business? It could be a website redesign, new collateral pieces, an enhanced social media presence or a fresh approach to networking. Whatever you’ve been wishing you could do but haven’t yet started, make a list so you can prioritize.
  • Choose a starting point. Be realistic – you now have a clear idea of how much time is left in your schedule. Remember that the busy season probably isn’t the time for the biggest project on your list, but just because you don’t have time to do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Pick a project or task that you feel you can commit to completing, and that you feel will have the most immediate impact on your business right now.
  • Break your chosen project into steps. Maybe there’s some research you need to complete or a contract you need to hire. Once you know exactly what that project requires, you can then build those individual tasks into your schedule and start crossing them off your list.
  • Give yourself permission to occasionally just tread water. We all get swamped, and it’s completely okay to take your focus off business development when you’re overwhelmed. After all, honoring your commitment to your clients is the most important business task you can complete.

Finally, remember that, in the busy season, dropping the “all or nothing” mindset and focusing instead on doing something is the best thing you can do to continue growing your business.

» Public Relations: How to Stay Organized

 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding PR firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding PR, please contact us today.

 

One of the biggest hurdles that a wedding professional faces when incorporating wedding public relations strategies into their marketing campaign is staying organized. Between managing the day to day tasks of running a business, as well as keeping track of the clients themselves, the idea of adding yet another “to do” to the list can be an overwhelming one!

The good news? With a bit of organization and a few tools in place, you’ll find it far easier to execute, as well as keep track of, your efforts.

Not sure where to get started? Here are a few of my “must have” wedding PR organizational tools:

  • Media List: A post it with your local magazine editor’s email address will no longer suffice. It’s time to create a bona fide document with your targeted media outlets and their respective contacts.  Better yet, including any editorial calendar deadlines and make sure you’ve added them to your calendar as well, to avoid missing any important dates.
  • Vendor Lists: If you aren’t collecting the names and contact information from each wedding, then start doing so today. Not only will it come in handy with real wedding submissions, but you’ll have a much easier time getting in touch with everyone should a feature come of it.
  • DropBox: DropBox is a storage system that gives you an online spot for all of your large files. I keep my real wedding submissions here, categorized in subfolders named after the wedding itself. Not only can I find each wedding in an instant, it also allows me to share these large files with others (editors, vendors, etc) with relative ease.
  • Google Drive: Formerly known as Google Docs, this is a fantastic system for storing your files online, allowing you to access them from anywhere you have an internet connection.  Create a document within Google Drive that lists each of your real wedding submissions along with the status of each. This will keep you from resubmitting a wedding to too many media outlets at once, and also give any of your team members a real time answer as to the status of each submission.

Incorporating additional strategies into a busy wedding professional’s life is no easy feat but with the above organizational tools at your fingertips, you’ll be more than ready to take on the challenge.

» Building Great Networking Relationships: Two Approaches to Try

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Last month, I wrote about the importance of earning referrals the right way.  A big part of earning referrals, though, is building quality connections in the wedding industry – something that’s often easier said than done.  Especially in markets that are saturated with wedding businesses, standing out from the crowd can be a real challenge.

So how can you build the kinds of networking relationships that lead to referrals?  There are two approaches you can take, and the one that’s right for you will depend largely on your personality, your availability, and your communication style.

Approach 1: Cast a wide net.  Many metropolitan areas offer a wealth of networking opportunities, from WeddingWire-sponsored events to industry associations to mastermind groups.  If you’re a natural-born social butterfly, this might be the right relationship-building avenue for you.

Works well if: You have plenty of availability to attend lunches and happy hours; you are comfortable with new settings and new people; you’re great at remembering names and faces; your business concept can be easily and quickly explained; you are a social media maven (and are happy to interact virtually with people before and after events!).

Not so good if: You consider yourself shy or socially awkward; your personal obligations prevent you from being able to get to events; your budget is tight (as admission fees, organization dues and drink tabs can add up!)

How to get started: Social media is your friend!  Look for Facebook pages for networking groups in your area.  Ask friends which events they’ve found helpful.  Or consider planning your own!  Partnering with other wedding business owners to host an open house or networking meeting can be a great way to make new contacts.

Don’t forget: Hit as many events as you possibly can – you want to be ubiquitous! – and make sure you follow up with everyone you meet.  A quick email, Facebook wall post or tweet after an event can go a long way toward building a connection that translates into future referrals.

Approach 2: Pick your targets and hit them one at a time.  For people seeking more in-depth connections, or whose schedule limits their availability to network, focusing on creating one-on-one relationships may be more effective.

Works well if: You’re too busy to attend a lot of evening events, but can squeeze in occasional coffee dates or lunches; you feel more comfortable talking to one person at a time; your business is a little more unusual and needs a more detailed “pitch;” you’re terrified at the idea of walking into a bar or a ballroom full of unfamiliar faces.

Not so good if: You have difficulty carrying on extended conversations; your schedule doesn’t allow you to meet during the day; you don’t have a well-crafted explanation of your business.

How to get started: Look at the people who are already in your network, even distantly – consider contacting the vendors from your recent weddings, or ask a trusted industry pro to make an introduction.

Don’t forget: It’s especially important in one-on-one meetings to focus more on the other business owner than on yourself.  Ask questions, learn about the other person’s business, and search for commonalities upon which a relationship can be built.

Of course, I’ve personally found that a combination of both approaches is most effective.  Attending larger-scale events to meet a variety of new people, and then scheduling individual meetings with particularly inspiring pros, has helped me to develop a strong core of referral sources and a wider outer circle of friendly faces.

(As a post-script, I’d strongly recommend you keep in mind that giving referrals is often the quickest route to getting referrals.  When you focus on helping others’ businesses grow, yours will almost always grow in turn.)

What do you think of Jennifer’s networking tips? Join in the discussion on the WeddingWire Pro Forum to share your questions, thoughts and own tips for building great relationships in the industry!