» How to Start and Maintain a Networking Group

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Networking – there’s simply no better way to get your name out amongst industry peers and potential clients. Not only is it a fun experience (can you say cocktail hour?), but it can also be the changing force that helps advance your business to the next level. Even if you have to duck out of the office a bit early or take a long lunch break, attending networking events is certainly worth the time and effort.

	How to Start and Maintain a Networking GroupHowever, in some cases, you may attend networking events, but find that you’re not happy with the results. If this sounds like you, consider starting your own networking group as there may be other professionals in your industry feeling just as disappointed in the current offerings. To start a networking group, you simply need to have like-minded people who are looking to work together.

Perhaps the locally-established events aren’t as niche-specified as you’d like or maybe they’re always scheduled at inconvenient times leading to low turnout. Whatever the case is, take all of these considerations into account when building your own networking group. Your experience attending these events is the best form of research, as you’ll have a better idea of what you and others are looking to get out of a night of mixing and mingling.

Step 1: Set goals

As with any big project, you’ll want to start off by setting goals. What does an ideal networking event look like to you? Carefully determine the audience you want to include at your events—are you looking to connect with all local photographers? Do you want to build a cohesive network of wedding professionals who focus solely on luxury events? Your answer to this question will form the foundation of your group, as well as provide a game plan for how to grow and maintain your network.

Step 2: Recruit members

Before inviting your whole Facebook list, you’ll want to carefully sift through your connections and select those who will be of the most value to the networking group and are well known in the region. With a list of invited members in hand, you’ll want to have your first event on the books before hitting the ‘send’ button. When people first hear of your group, they’ll want to know details about the inaugural event; otherwise, they’ll most likely forget about the group. Using an approximate number of attendees, find a venue that can comfortably host the group if everyone were to bring one extra person. From there, start reaching out to promote the event and requesting speakers and sponsors, if necessary. You may also want to consider aligning yourself with local media and area bridal shows for larger exposure.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: 2015 Pet Peeves, Closing Sales Emails, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Biggest pet peeves for wedding professionals2015 pet peeves

Pros blow off some steam by venting about their biggest pet peeves of 2015 so far. Complaints include grammar mistakes, awkward requests, and drunken bridal party members. Share your biggest pet peeves or check out what other Pros are saying!

Join the conversation >>

Tips for closing sales emails

One of WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg’s best sales closing tips is to always end your email with a question to keep the conversation going. Do you use this tip? What questions do you use at the end of your emails? Pros offer their best practices.

Share your techniques >>

Mentoring a potential competitor

Where do you draw the line between mentoring someone and potentially giving away your hard-earned industry experience and trade secrets? A photographer shares her experiences with a colleague who is new to the industry, and seeks advice for how to handle a tricky situation.

Offer your advice >>

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Same-Sex Wedding Advice, Contract Mistakes, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Same-sex wedding adviceSame-sex wedding advice

A venue coordinator is about to host her first same-sex marriage and wants to make sure she doesn’t offend the two brides. Other experienced Pros offer advice for same-sex wedding etiquette and special considerations for newer traditions.

Offer your opinion >>

Handling contract mistakes

What happens when you make a mistake in your initial contract? A southern wedding planner seeks advice on a contract mistake which has resulted in an unexpected fee. Who should be responsible for paying the difference?

Weigh in >>

Working with verbal contracts

A beauty Pro expresses her frustrations regarding a client who keeps changing the services requested, but there is no written contract to enforce. How do you suggest she work with this client to find a good solution based on a verbal contract?

Share your suggestions >>

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Client Complaints, DIY Nightmares, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Clients working with vendorsTop client complaints

A Pro shares a link to our wedding forums where brides discuss their most frustrating interactions with wedding professionals. On the board, Pros talk about the most common complaints and how they address them in their own businesses.

See how you measure up >>

DIY nightmares

A florist seeks advice for dealing with couples who incorporate do-it-yourself elements into the décor. What happens when something goes wrong with the client’s DIY? Whose responsibility is it to come up with an alternate plan? Pros chat about what to do.

Offer your opinion >>

Experience with wedding expos

Is it OK to register for wedding expos even if you don’t plan on purchasing a booth? A Pro seeks advice from others about wedding expo best practices and following common courtesy with other professionals in the industry.

Share your thoughts >>

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» Pro Form Buzz: SEO Tips, Blogging Questions, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Google search on mobilee deviceHere’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

SEO tips for top rankings

In a Tech Tuesday post from WeddingWire Associate Director of Customer Success Brendan McClellan, Pros discuss SEO tips to help them climb to the top of search results. Plus, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon weighs in on whether or not to consider using multiple domains.

Offer your insights >>

Blogging questions

A Pro asks for help in coming up with blog post topics and tips for blogging consistently. Other Pros share their own blogs and blogs that they follow to make blogging easier, and some share their conventional wisdom based on the impact blogging has had on their search engine rankings.

Give your opinions >>

Putting together a styled shoot

A wedding planner asks for help when putting together a styled shoot. She feels she’s spending more money and time on the shoot than other Pros involved, and she wonders if that’s how it normally goes. Pros give their opinions on what she should expect and how to avoid the same issues going forward.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Getting on Google, Counterfeit Wedding Dresses and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Pro Forum Buzz: Getting on Google, Counterfeit Wedding Dresses and MoreHere’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Getting on Google

What are your best SEO tips for boosting Google search ranking for your business’s website? WeddingWire Pros weigh in to help a new business learn how to optimize their website and online properties in order to rank higher in search results.

Give your advice >>

Counterfeit wedding dresses

Pros talk about a recent segment on Good Morning America about counterfeit wedding dresses and why it’s not a good idea to order items with a drastically-reduced price from unfamiliar websites.

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Vendors sampling at a wedding

Should other vendors working at a wedding be able to sample food or drinks during cocktail hour? Pros debate whether or not it’s generally considered acceptable, and who should have the final say – the couple or the venue.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Fall 2015 Bookings, Contract Advice and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Fall 2015 Bookings, Contract Advice and MoreContract advice

Do you allow anyone other than the engaged couple to sign a contract? If the bride or groom isn’t the person paying for your services, is the paying party authorized to sign the contract? Wedding Pros from various categories share their experiences.

Weigh in >>

Fall 2015 bookings

Pros discuss their bookings so far for the 2015 fall season and whether or not they have the capacity for more. Also discussed: booking patterns, booking variances by month and what constitutes a “busy” month for different types of Pros.

Join the discussion >>

Sharing price quotes

An Invitations Pro believes that her prospects and some wedding planners are using her price quotes to haggle with competitors in the area. Have you ever experienced this sort of situation? How would you prevent price-shopping clients from ruling you out right from the beginning?

Share your experiences >>

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» WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas

Earlier this week, Texas wedding professionals gathered at the Tower Club Dallas for WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas!

At the Mix & Mingle, Pros from the Dallas area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the afternoon (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Greater Dallas Facebook community.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the event possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack: Congrats to Alicia Kam of The Castle at Rockwall!

WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas
WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas
WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas
WeddingWire Mix & Mingle Dallas Continue reading

» Pro Forum Buzz: Search Engine Ranking, Elopements and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Search Engine Ranking, Elopements and MoreRanking on Google

Calling all SEO aficionados!  What are your best tips for ranking on Google? Pros weigh in with tips that have worked for them as well as search engine optimization best practices to help a wedding favors Pro boost her search engine rankings.

Add your experiences >>

How do you feel about elopements?

Some Pros on the Pro Forums have seen an increase in elopement bookings, but it seems like certain categories see more than others. How do you define an elopement? Do you find yourself doing more or less of these? Love or hate them?

Join the conversation >>

Requesting reviews from clients

A wedding planner asks for advice from other Pros to help make asking for a review easier and part of the whole process. Share your best practices and tips on getting current and past clients to review you on WeddingWire!

Share your thoughts >>

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Reasonable Pricing, Contact Forms and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Reasonable Pricing, Contact Forms and MoreThe word “reasonable”

When a client uses the word “reasonable,” what do you understand that to mean? Pros talk about the best way to communicate with clients who want to lower your price, and how to help them understand what is actually considered reasonable in the wedding industry.

Add your thoughts >>

Adding contact information

Where do you post your contact information on your business’ website? On a topic fresh from this month’s educational webinar with Alan Berg, Pros discuss best practices for contact forms to help get more qualified inquiries.

Join the discussion >>

Joining area Facebook Groups

Do couples in your market participate in local Facebook Groups to discuss wedding planning? Pros talk about how these groups are a new trend among couples and vendors alike, and how some vendors are trying to advertise or argue on these pages in an inappropriate way. Continue reading

» The Importance of Networking for Wedding Professionals

The Importance of Networking for Wedding ProfessionalsWith all your meetings, appointments and events, networking can seem like the last priority on your to-do list. Especially since it’s so hard to measure the ROI of networking, many Pros may see networking as a less valuable business growth strategy than online strategies like SEO and social media. However, there’s a good reason that the most seasoned wedding professionals will tell you that it’s all about who you know!

Just as SEO or social media marketing are not standalone strategies, networking is an initiative that should be done in addition to your other business growth efforts. Below we explain the importance of networking for wedding professionals and why your wedding business should look for more networking opportunities in 2015.

Get more referrals or opportunities

Referrals are huge in the wedding industry. Wedding professionals in most cities or regions have a lot of choice when it comes to other Pros to work with, so it’s important for you to meet more people in your area to identify opportunities. The connections you make at networking events or even social events can be the reason your business gets the referral over another local business – if you’re equally skilled and rated within your community as another Pro, you’re much more likely to be selected as the preferred Pro if the referrer knows you well. Connections you make through networking are extremely important if your business is interested in making it onto a wedding planner’s or venue’s list of preferred vendors.

Gain credibility in your area

If you’re new to the wedding business or new to the area, this benefit is absolutely necessary. While it’s still important to get consumer reviews to help boost your online reputation, an endorsement from another professional helps potential clients see how credible your business is amongst your peers. You want your peers to have nothing but good things to say about your business! Making connections and accumulating endorsements from other local Wedding Pros will instantly add credibility to your business and show that your professional network recognizes your work. It’s best to be proactive about your business’ reputation by putting yourself out there and networking with other local businesses.

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» See the WeddingWire World 2015 Agenda

See the WeddingWire World 2015 AgendaWe are so excited for the two-day lineup at WeddingWire World 2015!

In 2014, we took our award-winning day-long users’ conference on a tour of five U.S. cities. This year, we’re happy to bring WeddingWire World back to its inaugural location, Washington DC, for two full days of education and information to help you grow your wedding and events business.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve filled the two days of WeddingWire World 2015 with amazing guest speakers and experts to get your business motivated and prepared to succeed across all of the most important channels for your business. Below is a quick sampling of some of the new and exciting sessions featuring our fantastic lineup of speakers:

Monday, March 16th

  • Pinstabook: Social Media Must Do’s – Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire
  • Build Your Professional Brand Online – Alison Mann & Alexander Reznikow, LinkedIn
  • Tough Pricing Questions: Turning “How Much?” into “YES!” – Alan Berg, AlanBerg.com
  • How Marriage Equality Impacts Your Business – Kathryn Hamm, GayWeddings.com
  • Take Your Blogging to the Next Level – Andy Ebon, The Wedding Marketing Network
  • Be Your Own Wedding Publicist – Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
  • Video Marketing: Creating Quality Content – Animoto, WeddingWire Partner

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