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.
Practically all wedding business-building advice extols the virtue of networking. Obviously, your relationships with other Pros serve as a foundation for earning referrals. There are other benefits, however. Developing a bond with others in your industry enables you to seek advice, collaborate on projects, and enjoy a special kind of camaraderie.
Unfortunately, traditional “networking” may not be for everyone. Some Pros are just shy, making it difficult to work their way through a room of strangers. Others may just be starting out in the industry and find it intimidating to approach other business owners. The good news is that there are several other great ways to start building the kinds of relationships that can help strengthen your business:
- One-on-one networking. Meeting individually with another Pro can be one of the most effective ways to make a new friend within the business. A private coffee date or lunch meeting is a great opportunity to “talk shop,” and can give you the chance to show off your portfolio and/or learn more in-depth about the other person’s company. Often, over time, a friendship will grow – I know I count other wedding industry folks among my very closest friends, and I find there’s something special about people who really understand the industry, given that it’s such a huge part of my life.
- Mastermind groups. Small, hand-picked groups of wedding business owners can be a great source for brainstorming new ideas and solving problems within your company. Because compatibility and confidentiality is so important, it can sometimes be hard to break into an existing group (if you even know of any), but there’s nothing to say you can’t start your own. Consider approaching a couple of Pros you like, respect, and – most importantly – trust, and suggest getting together monthly or quarterly for a planned discussion.
- Educational events. An industry as creative as weddings is full of opportunities to learn. From large-scale events like Engage or Wedding MBA to smaller niche events like photography workshops or planner Q&A’s, these functions offer inspiration without the social pressure of an unstructured networking event.
As a host of one regular networking event in my area, and an attendee of many more, I’ll be the first to promote networking as a great means of building relationships. For those not inclined to network, though, these other approaches can be very effective in getting to know other Pros in a way that works for you and your business.