» Have You Evaluated Your Memberships For 2019?

When we think of tools that help us continue our education and grow as industry professionals, association memberships are one of the things that likely come to mind. The benefits of membership, whether local or on a national level, are endless. But when you factor in the travel to events, the finances you put into attending, and the time that you take away from your business to make it to the meetings, it’s important to analyze your memberships to make sure that the ROI is worth it in the long run.

How often you should evaluate your memberships?

It should be noted that nearly every membership has its benefits, but ultimately, your participation and how you reap the rewards is up to you. You should take time each year to take a hard look at each association you’re a part of. Are you getting the most out of your membership? Are you making it a priority? Have you noticed that your business is better because of it?

It’s also important to think about which associations make more sense to you. If you find that you’re benefiting more from a local association, it’s completely okay to start smaller and focus on building your connections from there. Don’t feel as if you have to commit to a national association if you’re not gaining as much from it.

Know what’s working and what’s not

There are plenty of ways to take advantage of your membership, even if you feel you may have been letting it fall to the wayside. Think about why you first decided to join. Was it to establish more industry connections? Did you want to further your education with fresh ideas from other experts? Whatever the case may be, you can always turn it around and tackle your position as a member with those initial goals in mind.

If you’re not seeing the results you want, try approaching it from a different angle. Make more of an effort to connect with other members by following up with them, congratulating them on recent achievements, or just showing a genuine interest in their work. Take advantage of attending your association’s webinars or seeing guest speakers.

How to be more involved

Our industry makes it extremely easy to be passive when it comes to things that aren’t in line with our immediate business. If it’s not at the top of your mind or on your calendar, it’s inevitable that they’ll slip away.

Personally, I live and die by my calendar. If it’s not marked in my schedule, it just won’t get done. Mark each event ahead of time and block off part of your day to devote to attending. And this can be a hard one, but learn to say ‘yes’! When other members are meeting for dinner or meeting up at a conference, it could be in your best interests to put in some valued facetime and strengthen those relationships. You never know who will refer more business to you, or who will become your next go-to friend in the industry.

An association membership can be one of the best things you ever do for yourself as a professional, and evaluating your place as a member can help you maximize the benefits and ensure that you’re reaping what you sow!


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 past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and current international president for WIPA.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix

On Wednesday evening we had the opportunity to host our WeddingWire Networking Night Phoenix. The evening brought together wedding professionals for a night of networking and education at the trendy boho-chic Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale.

The Agave Ballroom, where the event was held, boasted an adorable pom-pom wall, and a bright patio space with festive furniture and fire pits. Pinks and oranges really made the space pop, which went perfectly with the event’s signature cocktail– prickly pear mimosas!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us!

Couldn’t swing by? We’re excited to share the full educational presentation, presented by our WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, as well as the latest issue of WedInsights. Check out the full gallery of photos, captured by Tony George Photography.

This amazing evening couldn’t have been made possible without our event partners:

» Wedding Friends with Benefits – How to Improve Vendor Relationships

In most categories within our industry, referrals can make up a portion of the “where business comes from,” and thus, any wedding business’ yearly planning should include some piece on building or improving vendor relationships.

I have come to firmly believe that the most profitable and enjoyable wedding businesses are ones that create and then continually feed what I refer to as “the ideal couple cycle.” When building a business that drives an ideal couple cycle, we need to develop and maintain not just any vendor relationship, but focus on relationships with vendors who work with the same ideal couples or close. These result in warmer leads and likely more couples booked.

In addition to referrals, there are many other reasons you might look to develop more or stronger vendor relationships, including:

  • Weddings or events tend to run more smoothly: When a team of professionals who have experience together and can trust each other, things tend to run smoother. This means that your couple has a better experience with their entire wedding, not just the part that you control, and that usually means better reviews and more referrals.

  • Having people to jump in and help when needed:  Once in a while we need other wedding professionals to step in and help our couple. That’s more likely to happen when you have a network of professionals who know you, trust you, and like you.

  • Learning and sharing best practices: Maybe you want to get better at a certain part of your business or learn something new. Finding and working with someone who does it well can improve your skill set and build a valuable relationship.

  • Gaining an accountability partner and sounding board: As solopreneurs and/or small business owners, it is nice to have people who can keep you on track and give you experienced feedback.

  • Wing person: Whether you enjoy networking or hate it, it’s always good to have people who you can chat with at events or conferences and who can also introduce you to others.

  • Having a friend and/or venting partner: Let’s be honest, this can be an unusual industry to work in, and it’s nice to have folks in your life who can understand and empathize! Plus, it helps you keep any and all venting (either about couples or other wedding professionals) off of social media, which is never a good idea!

Below are the keys to developing and maintaining more focused and successful vendor relationships.

Defining “your type”

Just as much as you look for a type when creating personal relationships, you should do the same when creating vendor relationships. Remember, you don’t have to become close friends, but you should respect each other from a business/personal perspective and like each other too.

If you are looking for referrals as the main benefit of a relationship, then you definitely want to focus on those who attract and serve similar ideal couples. For example, if I am a lower price-point photographer, and not looking to change my ideal couple, then it most likely would be a waste for me to try to cultivate a relationship with a high-end planner or venue. Couples that come to them would most likely not be looking for someone like me, and, from the other side, my couples would most likely not be looking for a high-end wedding planner or venue.   

Additionally, you may want to start creating relationships with “competitors” – those in the same category as you. For example, in my Officiant business, I want to have relationships with those who serve the same ideal couples since they can refer couples to me when they are already booked and I can do the same for them. I know many wedding planners who fill their calendar with weddings that their colleagues cannot take themselves.

However, having relationships with those who serve different types of couples usually still results in referrals, as it’s important to know who to refer when you aren’t that couple’s right fit (either for price or style). Taking care of couples who come your way, even when you can’t be the one to ultimate service them, in a professional and thoughtful way, does benefit your business in both the short and long-term.

How to find and connect with like-minded vendors

Naturally, it is tough to walk into a networking meeting and know exactly who works with your ideal couples, so you need to approach this a bit differently than old-school networking. The first place you should be looking is at the other vendors at your weddings – especially if it is a vendor with whom you have already done multiple weddings. Approach them, chat for a minute, collect a card, and follow-up afterwards. You can also talk to your current community of friends in the industry. Figure that they know you and your style, so they might know others who work with the same couples and have the same style.

Attend a big wedding show and walk around and look at booths – if those vendors have done their job right, you should be able to tell who serves your same ideal couples. Use the opportunity to stop by and collect their cards to follow-up later.

Attend more education-focused events like conferences or professional association meetings (vs. only the parties or social-focused events). This will give you a better chance to get to know a vendor’s business. Help them in some way. Send them gifts, take them to coffee, wine and dine them (okay, maybe just wine or coffee them). Lots of ideas of where to start!

Value proposition and benefits

When you do contact or follow-up with the vendors who you think are a good match, always remember, you are not hard-selling them, but rather, you are trying to build a mutually beneficial long-term relationship. Let them know who your ideal couples are, how you describe your style and your offerings, and what sets you apart from others. Be a resource to them. Seek their guidance. Be helpful to them in some way shape or form (there are many ways to add value to colleagues beyond just referrals). And yes, it is more than okay to be friends with competitors (ones who do what you do and ones who don’t).

Maintaining the relationship

You should “call and write.” What I mean by this is that you should find ways to keep in touch without being annoying. Relationships need both trust and rapport and have to be built over time. You have to be willing to create a mutually beneficial relationship – giving, not just taking. Obviously, being able to refer couples to them is very beneficial, but, depending on what you do, that may not always be possible. You could offer them opportunities to promote their business by having them write a guest blog post, inviting them to a networking event or even promoting them on your social media – keeping it professional but personal.

Vendors vs. venues

I did just want to make a quick distinction between relationships with other vendors and dealing with venues since there can be differences. We all want to be “on the list,” but spending a lot of time and/or money to get on a list at a venue which serves something very different from your ideal couples is just wasted. If there is a venue you work at a lot, get to know the people who run it. Make sure they know you, and share those raving reviews or thank you cards from your mutual couples. Do they have a list? Do they want any of your cards or materials?  Do they do any kind of wedding shows?

Some don’ts in the relationship game

Remember that it’s a professional relationship, first and foremost, and therefore, you should be professional with them. Don’t bad mouth other vendors – while it is okay to tell the truth about an experience with them, it is not usually a best-practice to create drama or throw someone under the bus (independent of your relationship with them). This industry can feel like a small world, and doing that doesn’t usually serve you well.

Remember that not all relationships will go anywhere, and some will end up costing you more than they return, but the goal is to build yourself a strong community of wedding professionals, over time, who serve the same ideal clients. Your business will thank you for it, and I expect that you will also enjoy being in it much more.

Bethel Nathan is a San Diego based wedding officiant, business coach, and industry speaker. Combining her years of corporate and small business experience with a love for marrying awesome couples, Bethel built Ceremonies by Bethel, a successful and award-winning Officiant business. And although still officiating, Bethel now has another love… helping others turn their passions into successful and sustainable businesses. Learn more at www.elevatebybethel.com.

» WeddingWire World San Francisco 2019

The biggest ‘thank you’ goes out to everyone who joined us this year for WeddingWire World San Francisco!

On February 5, we were elated to bring WeddingWire to the Bay Area to host our first ever World San Francisco. The event, held at the City View at Metreon, boasted a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Between nine highly educational presentations and a fabulous networking night, the event was a huge success. We had a remarkable time with everyone, and are excited to share some of our favorite moments!

Educational sessions

The day was filled with a fantastic lineup of presentations (and selfies) by Sonny Ganguly, Alan Berg, Rob Ferre, Vanessa Joy, Kathryn Hamm, Jeffra Trumpower, Bethel Nathan, and Meghan Ely. These presentations gave guests an opportunity to dig deeper into marketing, sales, pricing, trends, and social media.

*To access a free worksheet to put Bethel Nathan’s tips into practice, text WORLD to 345345!

1:1 meetings with Customer Success Managers and complimentary headshots

Our Customer Success team was delighted to have the opportunity to sync up with their favorite wedding professionals. They held 1:1 meetings to give personalized tips on how to maximize listing value and boost storefront performance. We also encouraged attendees to swing by the headshot room to get a professional photo taken!

Cocktail reception

After a full day of education, guests wound down at a two-hour cocktail reception. They mingled with other attendees, enjoyed savory appetizers and delicious drinks, and took selfies in front of incredible live flower walls. Our guests relaxed over wine in our lounge areas, which were decked out in gorgeous hues of champagne, coral, and emerald. We loved seeing wedding professionals in the Bay Area have the opportunity to connect!

Take a peek at the Facebook album for some of our favorite moments, follow @WeddingWireEDU, and be sure to check out #WeDoWorld on Instagram and Twitter for more event highlights!

A special thank you to our partners who made the day an absolute success!

» Relationship Building Goals for the New Year

Brandi Potter Photography

It’s that time of the year where resolutions are no longer just distant ideas — now it’s time to put them in motion! Just as client relationships and experiences are supremely important to your business’s success, creative partners also play a large part. Increasing engagement with your fellow industry pros is the perfect way to shine a spotlight on your devotion to growth in 2019.

Strengthen relationships

This might be a no-brainer (and we’re all guilty of occasionally getting too wrapped up in our work to check in with those closest to us!), but it really is a crucial pillar in maintaining those creative partner ties.

Don’t stress yourself out about extending a grand gesture! The smallest details can really mean the most, in this case. Keep up with their recent accolades and send them a congratulatory email, or plan a get-together the next time you attend the same conference. Celebrating anniversaries and birthdays means just as much. Being present in their lives and setting a goal to be more communicative is always a step in the right direction, and they’ll start noticing.

Ask for feedback

Being vulnerable and opening yourself up to criticism is difficult, but I’ve found that it’s incredibly useful to know what your strengths and weaknesses are if you’re serious about excelling in both business and relationships. Client feedback is wonderful, but asking for the opinion of your creative peers may be most helpful when it’s coming from an insider’s point of view.

Asking for feedback not only shows that you’re interested in evolving as a wedding professional, but it shows that you care about how you’re viewed in the industry. Back when I was new to the wedding world, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to networking events. I met one of the top caterers in town and asked for honest advice, and she was quick to audit a few things that I wasn’t even aware of — right down to the baseball cap I shouldn’t have been wearing to networking events! After that, I really took her advice to heart and we became close partners in the business.

Increase your participation and maximize attendance

If you’ve been lacking a bit in industry event attendance, this is your opportunity to make up for lost time. Networking and educational events are your key to success in the new year, even when your schedule seems jam-packed. It can be hard to break away from the day-to-day, but participating in these events will benefit you in the long run as a way to connect with creative partners and lend your expertise.

Scope out associations you can join, submit yourself to speak at conferences, and print off some new business cards to hand out when you attend. You never know who will be the next big connection, or who could be a mutually beneficial referral to clients.

Our industry peers keep us in business and they keep us grounded. You want to be remembered as the professional that supports others and goes the extra mile, in whatever capacity that means for you. Putting in a little extra effort into the simplest tasks or exchanges will leave a lasting imprint!

 

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 past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

» WeddingWire Networking Night Northern New Jersey

On Tuesday evening we had the opportunity to host our WeddingWire Networking Night Northern New Jersey. This evening brought together wedding professionals for a night of collaboration in the tasteful conservatory inside of The Madison Hotel.

This conservatory, also a ceremony space, boasted luxury greenhouse vibes as polished chandeliers draped from the ceiling. Greenery filled every corner of the glass room on the account of hanging plants and tropical accent florals.

Local wedding professionals collaborated amongst vendors across various service categories and enjoyed beats by The SCE Event Group. Guests also spent the night striking poses in front of a live flower wall, which was handcrafted by Larkspur Botanicals. Award winning appetizers and beverages were another highlight of this evening, which were provided by Rod’s Steakhouse inside The Madison Hotel.

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us!

Couldn’t swing by? We’re excited to share the full educational presentation, presented by our very own Jeffra Trumpower, as well as the latest issue of WedInsights. Check out the full gallery of photos, captured by Havana Photography.

This divine evening couldn’t have been made possible without our special partners:

» How to Foster Relationships After Conferences

While conferences can be a fun experience (and another pin on your traveling map), they also provide education and networking opportunities for everyone involved. That being said, no matter if you’re new to the industry or if you’re nearing a decade (or more!) in well-seasoned knowledge, there’s something valuable for anyone that attends. On the same note, making new connections and professional relationships is part of the excitement of attending a conference, especially when it comes to potential clients or mutually beneficial creative partner contacts. So how can you ensure that these new relationships stay strong after they’re developed?

Strategy is key

Exchanging contact information is only the first step, and follow-up after the fact is also great. But think about the ways that you can be relevant to them without actually being face-to-face. If you have a blog or active social media for your company, consider cultivating that new relationship with some content to cross-promote to each other’s audiences. Both of you will benefit, plus you’ll leave an invaluable impression that you’re a loyal connection to have.

Generosity is something we always advocate for, whether that means a referral or an effort to ‘surprise and delight’ your creative partner. Handwritten thank-you notes go so far, trust us! The old saying about what you put out into the world will inevitably come back around is so true. Putting out those referrals means that you’ll likely see them in return, and you’ll want to make sure you credit the person that scored you that new client.

Be prompt

It’s really that simple. Even if the communication between the two of you isn’t necessarily time-sensitive, it’s still a nice gesture to respond to emails or other correspondence in a timely manner. Prioritizing the small things really do mean a lot in the long run. Our rule of thumb is generally responding within 24 hours of receipt.

To take it a step further, if you’re traveling in the area where your creative partner is located, make an effort to put in the face-to-face contact, even if it’s just grabbing some coffee. This lets them know that you care about continuing the relationship and want to check in on their successes.

There are plenty of ways to foster those long-lasting relationships after conferences, but keep in mind that it’s important that it comes across as organic and genuine. Be yourself, be consistent, and get creative – that is all you need to do!

 

 

Kevin Dennis is 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 the immediate past national president for WIPA.

 

» Off-Season Tips for Solidifying Vendor Relationships

Photo by Anchor & Pine Collective

We’ll never stop saying it – your success in the events industry is grounded in the relationships you form and maintain. This is a people-centric business so developing ties to like-minded professionals is a critical pillar in the foundation of every strong event company.

During the busy season, the efforts that are necessary to finesse relationships are limited by your time and energy. However, the off-season provides not only opportunities to meet new people, but also an opportunity to circle back to those you’ve wanted to get to know better and find new ways to leverage your strongest ties; it is also the perfect time of year to put into place systems that will make it look like you’re the king or queen of networking the rest of the year!

Here are just a few ways you can solidify your vendor relationships during your off-season.

Maximize your attendance and participation in associations
It’s hard to participate and be present during peak season, because you simply can’t be in two (or three, or five) places at once. So during your next lull, double-down on your commitment to attending all available networking and educational events.

Look for opportunities to attend meetings, deliver professional development as a speaker to your peers, and contribute your time, product and services whenever the opportunity arises to the organizations you support with your membership. Make a big impression now to stay on your colleagues’ radar when you can’t actually attend.

The off-season is also a great time to vet new associations or positively respond to invitations to be a guest or guest speaker at new groups. You may or may not ultimately join, but your willingness to support other professionals will someday be returned in kind.

Be strategic
Think about the ways that you can be relevant to others when you can’t actually be face-to-face with them. Do you have a blog or active social media platforms? During the off-season, work with your colleagues to exchange content and pre-schedule posts that offer valuable information to each other’s audiences. You’ll each benefit from fresh and useful entries on your feeds, and will demonstrate to others how much faith you have in your business relationship.

I always advocate for generosity, believing that paying it forward is one of our strongest business-building policies. The off-season is a great time to look for creative ways to share referrals and help nudge the professionals you trust towards their own new successes. It’s also the right time to thank those businesses that have referred you during the year for their generosity. Send handwritten thank you notes, fun tokens of appreciation, and drop in for personal visits and expressions of gratitude.

Use technology to plan for the next busy season
There are apps for everything, and we strongly believe in using them to work smarter. A good to-do list or calendar app can help you create reminders of important dates like colleague birthdays, anniversaries or business milestones. Use a drop-ship service during the off-season to pre-schedule little tokens and gifts to arrive with personal notes of appreciation. In our fast-paced industry, thoughtfulness stands out more than any ad campaign or promotion.

Whether you’re at the top of your game, or just starting out, nothing is more integral to the success of your events business than your connections. Use the gift of the slow season to find new and innovative ways to extend your network and solidify your highly valuable vendor relationships.


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 past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

 

» WeddingWire Networking Night Chicago

This Monday, we hosted our WeddingWire Networking Night Chicago for local wedding professionals at the art-deco Walnut Room at the Hotel Allegro.

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy this roaring 20s inspired space that fulfilled our Gatsby decor dreams!
Guests sipped on wine and enjoyed delicious appetizers including a shrimp cocktail bar and pork loin carving station! Guests met with other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tips for improving your SEO, presented by WeddingWire’s Associate Director of SEO, Mike Anderson!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! 

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. Check out the full gallery of photos!

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

» WeddingWire Networking Night Boston

This Tuesday, we hosted our WeddingWire Networking Night Boston for local wedding professionals at the beautiful Boston Park Plaza Hotel‘s Avenue 34 space.

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy this unique and sophisticated new space that gives off a loft-like vibe with exposed beams and an industrial feel.
Guests sipped on cocktails and enjoyed delicious appetizers at the start of the event and ended with a mini ice cream bar! Guests met with other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tip for handing pricing conversations, presented by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! 

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. Check out the full photo gallery on our Facebook!

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

» WeddingWire Networking Night Portland

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Union/Pine for our WeddingWire Networking Night Portland!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a mid-century modern dream venue, while sipping on scratch-made sangria and delicious appetizers! Guests met with other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tip for handing pricing conversations, presented by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! 

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below. Check out the full photo gallery on our Facebook!

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

» WeddingWire Networking Night Seattle

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at block 41 for our WeddingWire Networking Night Seattle!

Wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning industrial venue in Belltown! Guests met with other local vendors across all service categories as well as members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and tip for handing pricing conversations, presented by WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg!

Thank you to all the wonderful wedding professionals who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the lovely evening below.

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