» Who’s in Your Network?

Photo by Austin Stuart Photography

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

I just got back from presenting at a local wedding association meeting. This association opened the workshop to non-members, as a gesture to help educate the industry (and I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to try to drum up a few new members). As is the case at all meetings like this, many of the people who attended already knew each other. Many already get together, outside the meetings, either socially, or to network.

Is that a clique, or a network?

There’s a fine line between a clique and a network, but it’s often hard to see the difference from the outside. For me, the difference is whether the group is open to new members. When I say group, I don’t necessarily mean a formal association. At workshops and conferences, wedding and event professionals tend to cluster in groups. I’m sure a psychologist would tell us that this is natural, human behavior. Are those groups cliques? They can often feel impenetrable, because the body language of the group feels exclusive, as opposed to inclusive. Outsiders often don’t try to join the group, assuming, in advance, that they’re not welcome. Sometimes that’s the case, sometimes it’s not.

Who’s in your five?

Do you remember the cell phone ads, “Who’s in your five?” In this case, your ‘five’ is your inner-circle (which can certainly be more than five people). Who are the industry connections with whom you socialize? It’s been said that we do business with people we know, like and trust (credit to Bob Burg, no relation). When a couple asks for a referral to another service, or when you’re booked and want to refer a colleague, why do you refer those particular businesses? Is it just because they’re the best at what they do? Or, is it because they’re good at what they do, and you saw them recently, either at a wedding, or at a networking event, or over coffee on a Tuesday?

How can you expand your network?

First, remember that you weren’t always on the inside. Too often I see wedding professionals complaining about the new company in their market, whether they’re a lower-price, or a direct competitor. Weren’t we all the new guy (or gal) at one time? Weren’t our prices lower than many, if not most competitors, when we were new to the business? For many of us, the answer to those questions is yes. Rather than shun these newbies, why not welcome them into the fold? Wouldn’t it have been nice if you were welcomed that way when you were new? Or, maybe you were.

A rising tide raises all ships

Welcoming the new businesses, and helping them do things the right way, helps everyone. We all know that it only takes one person in your market and category, who has bad customer service, or who takes advantage of a customer, to make us all look bad. I would rather compete with someone who’s doing things well, is honest and well-respected. It makes me keep myself sharp, and keep my game up.

You can teach an old dog…

Another reason to widen your network with newcomers, is that they often have new ideas that can help you. Those of us who’ve been at our craft for a while can sometimes get set in our ways. Have you ever been caught off-guard by a newcomer who’s taking market share with their new approach? Baby-boomers and Gen Xers can learn from millennials and vice versa. You may like your way, but it’s not the only way. Regardless of age, none of us can learn anything new, if we’re not open to the possibilities. So, the next time you find yourself in a group, and you see someone you don’t know, try introducing yourself and inviting them in. You may make a great business connection, or even a new friend. Who’s in your five?

alan bergWeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.

» Wedding Community Comes Together for Wedding MBA 2017

Photo by What Em Sees Photography

It has been difficult to find the words for the tragic events that took place in Las Vegas last week, but it was humbling to witness the outpouring of love and acts of kindness throughout the Las Vegas community and beyond. We are grateful for the wedding community of professionals who came together to turn a time of tragedy into a week of uplifting unity and support. Despite the unfortunate events, the community of wedding professionals at Wedding MBA came together to connect, learn and celebrate unity.

The week was filled with educational presentations, networking, and plenty of selfies (with confetti!) at the WeddingWire booth. WeddingWire Education Experts and WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly held nine educational sessions covering a wide variety of topics from tech trends to social media to closing sales and more.

Photos by What Em Sees Photography

The WeddingWire booth was enjoyed by all, featuring a large LED screen displaying real-time Instagram posts from conference goers using #WeDoWMBA. Selfie and boomerang booths were set up in front of fun backdrops with bubbles and confetti galore. The hoodie and t-shirt giveaways were a hit, in addition to one-on-one meetings with Customer Success Managers, a coffee bar, a beauty bar, and so much more!

Photo by Jake Klein Photography

In the spirit of unity, WeddingWire partnered with The Knot to turn our scheduled parties into one joint fundraiser in support of the Las Vegas victims and community. The fundraiser was held on Tuesday, October 3rd at Jewel Nightclub at the ARIA Resort and Casino. WeddingWire and The Knot each donated $5 per attendee totaling $16,000 given to the Las Vegas Victims’ fund on top of the suggested $10 donation for attendees.

A very special thank you to our amazing partners: Jason Jani of SCE Event Group and DJ Brian B for DJing our party, DJ Jer Events & Lighting Design for lighting up our booth and making it pop, Montell Jordan for the throwback entertainment, Ella Gagiano Studios for the in-booth headshots, Bobbie Pin Beauty for the pre-fundraiser makeovers, and The Photo Booth Group or the selfie/boomerang stations at our booth and party.

To see more photos check out the full album here. For more event takeaways and to stay up-to-date on all the latest WeddingWire happenings for wedding professionals, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU on Instagram.

To help the victims of the Vegas tragedy, you can donate to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund at http://wed.li/helpvegas.

» How to Get On Preferred Vendor Lists (and Stay on Them)

Photo by: Studio 616 Photography

This article was written by Kevin Dennis, editor of WeddingIQ.

The illustrious preferred vendor list is something that, as business owners, we all strive to be on. The exclusivity and third party validation is very appealing, not to mention the leg up it can give you against competition and the increased exposure to couples. So the question is, how do you get on it and stay on it?

I’m sharing some of my best practices for getting on preferred vendor lists and staying on them. With engagement season right around the corner, there’s no better time to start putting these tips into action for your business.

Never Ask Immediately

Asking a fellow vendor or venue if you can get on their preferred list right out of the gate is probably the biggest mistake you can make. Would you want someone you just met five minutes ago asking you for a favor? No, probably not. Once you have gotten to know them more on a professional (or even personal) level, bring the subject up in a more general way. For example, ask them how they choose who to put on the list, or how often they refresh the list. That way you are getting the intel you want without directly asking them to consider you.  

Get to Know the Other Vendors

Sit down and take a look at the list(s) you want to be a part of, and take note of the other vendors on it that you may already know or would like to get to know. The local events community is a small one, and your relationships with people can make all the difference. If you’re close to someone that is well connected, and they respect your reputation, they may recommend you the next time a vacancy on a preferred list comes up. This strategy has worked for me for years, and it’s another reason why networking is so important for wedding businesses.

Don’t Take It for Granted

If and when you are added to the preferred list, don’t get too comfortable. Several places will update theirs at least once a year, and if they barely remember who you are or have been in close contact with someone else, you can easily be replaced. Small gestures can be a fun and creative way to keep your business at the top of their minds. For example, we celebrate obscure national holidays (think National Miniature Golf Day) and send funny notes and trinkets to our vendor friends that will put a smile on their face.

Don’t let the idea of trying to get on a preferred vendor list scare you. With the right approach businesses will be adding you in no time.  

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a past national president for WIPA.