» 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!

» Don’t Sell Yourself Out of the Sale

This article was written by Alan Berg, a WeddingWire Education Guru. 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/.


When I’m giving presentations or training on closing sales, I often speak about how some Wedding Pros sell themselves right out of the sale. How does this happen? By suggesting less products or services than the customer is looking for, and is willing to pay for!

This can occur in a variety of scenarios:

Talking too much, instead of listening – A big mistake many people make in sales is trying to tell the prospect everything about their business. The truth is that everyone doesn’t need to hear everything. What they need to hear are the things that are most important to them and their needs. So, if you’ve been asking good, open-ended questions, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to sell them. The real key is listening… a skill that’s harder than it sounds (ask anyone with kids or a spouse). I’ve experienced this, first-hand, watching as people continue selling after the customer is ready to buy. Sometimes the customer actually leaves without buying because the salesperson doesn’t ask for the sale, they just keep on selling.

Underselling – I was speaking at a conference recently and a few of the Wedding Pros who attended were also engaged. I was presenting on sales and one of them said she was very frustrated by vendor who was trying to talk her out of some of the things she wanted for her wedding. They were actually lowering their sales, as well as annoying the prospect, who was willing to spend more for the things she wanted. They weren’t letting her spend her money. Anyone who’s heard or read my sales presentations and articles has heard me say that couples spend based upon their priorities. While the total wedding budget may, or may not be high, they’ll spend an out of proportion amount of it on the things they value the most. They key here is that it’s what they value the most, not you. Let them spend their money! Don’t sell them things they don’t need, but do let them spend on the things they want.

Thinking they can’t afford it – Another Wedding Pro told me that she was working up a proposal for the flowers for a wedding. She had carefully detailed everything the couple wanted and it was probably the largest order she’d ever done. When she looked at the estimate she was surprised at how much it was and thought how she, herself, probably wouldn’t spend that much on wedding flowers. Before giving the estimate to the couple, she posted on an industry message board about the quote to get some feedback as to whether it seemed correct. It turned out that her industry buddies told her she wasn’t charging enough. With an order of that size she would need extra help preparing, delivering and setting up the flowers. She’d also need a bigger truck to get it to the wedding. She actually needed to raise the estimate. She had some trepidation about showing the estimate to the couple, thinking that they would balk. On the contrary, the couple accepted the estimate as is. The lesson, once again here: Find out what they want, tell them how much it will cost and then let your couples spend their own money.

Going for the small sale – It’s often harder to add on products and services later than it is to sell them now. It’s called Top-Down selling. What that means is that you should be starting with a bigger package and working your way down, instead of starting with your base package and working your way up. If you’ve been really listening to their needs, present them with a package of your products and services that will fill their needs, regardless of their budget. If it’s too much, they’ll tell you. Then, if it is too much, you can start taking away things that aren’t important to them, or at least not important enough for them to spend more. You’ll likely end up at a higher price point than your base package… and, you’re showing them the value of what you’re doing for them.

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» Introducing Education Expert Jennifer Reitmeyer

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.

We are pleased to introduce Jennifer Reitmeyer of WeddingIQ, a new WeddingWire Education Expert!

Jennifer will be contributing guest posts and sharing her small business expertise monthly on our blog. Check out Jennifer’s first post, Tempering Expectations and Generosity, below. Welcome, Jennifer!

Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, Inc., an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities.  Read more at http://weddingiq.com.

At some point in every Wedding Pro’s career, there comes a time when a client is less than happy with the product or service that was received. Almost inevitably, that Wedding Pro is crushed – even more so if the client writes a bad review – and the Pro immediately thinks of all the ways that he/she went above and beyond for that client:

But I upgraded their package for free!
But I threw in all these extras!
But I did three more consultations than I normally do!
But I sent them such a nice free gift after the wedding!

This kind of thinking makes sense – after all, many Wedding Pros I know are incredibly generous, thoughtful, and really put their heart and soul into their work. It stings to have someone not appreciate our extra effort.

As logical as it is, however, this thinking is also flawed. The fact is: people don’t value what they receive for free. I think this is true for several reasons:

  • Throwing in “extras” left and right calls into question the true value of a company’s product or service – if you’re trying that hard, there’s probably a reason.
  • Convincing an uncertain buyer to purchase from you by piling on the freebies may get them to sign, but it also may create resentment later if the client decides they feel manipulated or that they spent more than was intended.
  • Including tons of “off-the-books” stuff only increases the client’s expectations of you. After all, if you’re willing to override your standard packages and contracts, why shouldn’t the client think you’ll be willing to do anything else they ask, too?
  • Giving away things that the client didn’t even want doesn’t absolve you from delivering on what they do want (and paid for). Consider this: if you went to a car dealership and received a free navigation system, but the car itself didn’t run well after you drove it off the lot, would you be satisfied?

Rather than throwing in more and more upgrades, you’d be better served by focusing on your product and your customer service processes to identify any possible shortcomings. This will be much better insurance against dissatisfied clients than giving away the store.

» WeddingWire to Feature Alan Berg as an Education Expert

The team here at WeddingWire is always looking for new ways to expand our education (EDU) program to bring you the latest and greatest information to grow your business.  We have featured well known industry experts and leaders, along with our executives here at WeddingWire, to build a valuable resource for you.

We are excited to announce that WeddingWire EDU will feature Alan Berg as one of our Education Experts! Alan has more than 20 years in wedding and event related sales and marketing experience, ranging from selling wedding advertising, to publishing two wedding magazines, to serving as an executive in the wedding industry. Alan is uniquely qualified to help event professionals achieve their goals and we are delighted to include him in our education program.

If you don’t know Alan already, he is the founder of the Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to educating and consulting highly motivated individuals and businesses.  In addition, he is an author of numerous books, including “If your website was an employee, would you fire it?,” the mini-book “Don’t Paint the House” and his new book, “Your Attitude for Success.” As a member of the National Speakers Association, Alan speaks to thousands of local business professionals every year through webinars, live presentations, DVDs and online videos.

WeddingWire is committed to providing wedding professionals with educational resources to help grow their business, by way of the WeddingWire Pro Blog, Education Center, webinars, and more. WeddingWire EDU is powered by numerous Education Experts, including Jayne Hallock from Wedlock, Kathryn Hamm of GayWeddings.com and Stacie Francombe of Inspire Smart Success. As an Education Expert, Alan Berg will share articles, lead webinars and provide advice to local wedding professionals.  Alan is a leading industry expert that has a wealth of knowledge across business practices, sales techniques, marketing and more.

Please join us in welcoming Alan as an Education Expert!