» 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

» How to Solidify Your Vendor Relationships in the Off-Season

Photo by Patrick Nied Photography

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

Having strong vendor relationships will help build your business; this is something we all know to be true. From networking events to associations to mastermind groups, there are lots of ways you can start getting to know your peers and establishing relationships that are going to lead to the all-important vendor referral.

So, how do you get there? See some of my top tips below:

Make the time

During the off-season many event professionals take the extra time they have and use it to network and get their face back out there. You should be doing the same thing. Yes, you may be understandably using that time to go on vacation and get organized for the upcoming year, but don’t disappear from your community. The last thing you want is for a competitor to sweep in and start using your absence to their advantage.

Always respond

Working in the events industry means you know that being unresponsive can cost you clients and money. The same can be said for your relationships. If you’re ignoring or putting off emails from your creative partners, even if it’s just a quick hello, they may forget to reply back to you when you need them in the future. Be sure that if you aren’t in the office, you’ve got a clear out-of-office email letting them know when you will be back to respond.

Share the wealth

When vendors start referring business your way, be sure to return the favor- when it’s appropriate. There is no better way of saying thank you or showing that you value their work than by sending one of your clients to them. If you have a preferred vendor list that you give to couples, consider adding them to it. The gesture will no doubt come back to you tenfold.

Make the extra effort

Sending your creative partners a symbol of appreciation is a great way to cement your relationship. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or cost a lot of money, but it should be something meaningful and from the heart. For example, in the middle of summer, we send popsicles to our friends in the community as a reminder to stay cool down and take a break. We’ve received Starbucks gift cards from fellow event professionals that know how much we love caffeine.

Use part of your off-season to plan how you’re going to strengthen your existing relationships and establish new ones. We promise that dedicating some of your off-season time to this will ultimately be a long-term investment in your own business.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the 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 National Vice President for WIPA.

» Partnership Marketing: Building Your Business from Your Wedding Buddies

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.

Whether you’re a seasoned business in your area or are new to the scene, marketing is something that should be in the forefront of your business operations. The tricky part is that a business’ marketing approaches are constantly changing and evolving; from PR and social media to more traditional advertising methods, the options are endless.

When considering your own methods, don’t discount your relationships with the businesses around you. Leveraging relationships with your creative partners is a great way to introduce your business into their network. Below we’ve got some tips on creating and maintaining your vendor-to-vendor relationships.

Partnership Marketing: Building Your Business from Your Wedding BuddiesEstablishing a Relationship

It may take some effort to find the right people to work with. If no one comes to mind when thinking of whom you’d want to work with, then it’s time to consider networking. Attend events at your local associations, meet people, exchange cards, and most importantly, follow up.

Make sure that you are the easiest person to work with, whether it’s at an event or setting up a meeting with them (no Saturday appointments in June!). Market yourself as part of their team and be an all-around resource of information to solidify your place as an essential part of the process.

Maintaining a Relationship

Don’t let all of your efforts be for nothing – set up a system to maintain your relationships. Make sure you are staying in touch with them regularly to keep yourself on their minds (think birthday cards and holiday cards). Include them in your real wedding submissions. If you worked with a vendor and the wedding gets published, be sure to give them a shout out in any promotions.

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» The Value of Professional Partnerships

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 shared some tips on working effectively with photographers to secure the images you want and need for your marketing. That was just one example of how a good relationship with other Pros can benefit our businesses, and it illustrated the value of professional partnerships. Partnering with other wedding vendors should be a priority for any business owner in this industry, for a number of reasons:

Building professional relationships in the wedding industryPartnerships create opportunities to collaborate. Vendors with great relationships can find a variety of ways to work together: co-hosting an industry event; organizing and executing a styled shoot; dually offering a special promotion to clients; even launching a new venture like a blog or a side business. I’ve done several of these things myself and I’ve always appreciated the experience of working alongside others I respect, as well as the added benefit of exposure to one another’s network of clients and colleagues.

Partnerships generate referrals. Practically every wedding vendor gets asked for suggestions in other service categories. And when that question arises, we naturally think of other professionals we trust. Partnering with other vendors often results in referrals not only to clients, but also to other vendors and to opportunities we might never have had otherwise (wedding shows, media exposure, speaking engagements, guest blogging…the list goes on and on!).

Partnerships build credibility. Being associated with other reputable, high-quality Pros is a boost to your own reputation – clients and vendors alike tend to think more highly of business owners who can work well with others in their field. Face it: if one of your colleagues recommends you for something – let’s say an award, or placement in an exclusive vendor list, or a leadership position in an organization – that recommendation is more likely to be considered than if you were “nominating” yourself.

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» Special Offer for Members of IAPWO

IAPWO-LOGO-1500We are excited to announce a new special offer for members of The International Association of Professional Wedding Officiants (IAPWO). The IAPWO is a global membership organization committed to supporting professional wedding Officiants and their businesses, with members receiving education, tools, benefits and more as they commit to upholding the standards of excellence for their vocation.

IAPWO members receive a special 15% discount* off of Featured and Professional premium advertising listings for new and lite members of WeddingWire. Along with an upgraded business listing on WeddingWire, premium members also receive access to industry leading business management and client management tools, a dedicated Customer Success Rep, free educational webinars and more!

To learn more about IAPWO, check out their website and educational articles today.

*This discount is valid for IAPWO members only. 15% off discount applies for Featured & Professional Officiant listings only, and just for new business. No other discounts or offers may apply. Discount expires on 12/31/15. Some exclusions may apply.

» Announcing Our Partnership with ADJA!

We are excited to announce a new partnership with the American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA), the nation’s largest trade association for professional disc jockeys!  ADJA members have access to a special discount on select WeddingWire memberships to power your business.

ADJA members can save up to $150 off select premium WeddingWire memberships to boost your online exposure on the #1 Wedding Network, with over 40 million visits each month across the leading wedding sites, including WeddingWire.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com, Weddingbee and Project Wedding. Additionally, premium members receive access to industry leading business management tools and educational articles, webinars and more!

ADJA also produces the annual industry event, The Las Vegas DJ Show. The event’s goal is for DJ’s to “boost your spirit, and boost your business,” and this year’s event will be September 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Learn more today!

» Celebrating Our Partnership with N.A.M.E.

Attention members of the National Association of Mobile Entertainers (N.A.M.E.)! Did you know as a N.A.M.E. member you have access to receive a special discount on select WeddingWire memberships to provide business tools and premiere online advertising exposure on the largest Wedding Network?

N.A.M.E. is the largest Association for working entertainment professionals in the U.S. Members now have the opportunity to save up to $150 for Spotlight and Featured premium packages on WeddingWire for new or renewal business, gaining exposure across the full network, including: WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com, Project Wedding, Weddingbee. Additionally, premium members receive access to industry leading business management tools and educational articles, webinars and more!

Learn more about this partnership!

» Announcing Our Partnership with ABC!

ABC-WW-Image

WeddingWire has joined together with the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), the largest group of wedding planners in the world!

We are excited to provide all ABC members a special $100 discount on select premium WeddingWire memberships to access leading marketing and client management tools, top education resources, plus guaranteed placement across our #1 Wedding Network (including WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com and more)!

For full details about this new partnership, click here!

» We are Excited to Announce Our New Partnership with NAME

WeddingWire has joined together with the National Association of Mobile Entertainers (NAME), the largest Association for working entertainment professionals in the U.S. We are excited  to provide all NAME members a special $100 off discount for any premium package for new or renewal business.

Premium packages get exposure across the #1 Wedding Network including WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com, Project Wedding, and Weddingbee, as well as access to industry leading business management tools and educational articles, webinars and more!

For full details about this new benefit, click here!

» WeddingWire & WedLock: Education for Your Business

In our commitment to help grow your business, WeddingWire continually updates and expands our online Education Center which houses articles, webinars, and other tools for Wedding Pros. We are excited to announce our new Education Partner, WedLock, the Online Learning Community for Wedding Pros.WedLock, a resource for small businesses in the wedding industry, provides online forums, monthly webinars and a bi-monthly journal.

With a wealth of knowledge from industry experts, WedLock aims to help your business with marketing, networking, and much more. As a WeddingWire member, you will now have access to recent WedLock articles featured in the Education Center! Stay tuned for more articles to come.

In addition, Wedlock is now offering special deals exclusively for WeddingWire members, including 15% off and a free bonus offer! For more information, click here>>