» Introducing the WeddingWire Education Guide

WeddingWire believes in the power of education to keep your business ahead of the competition so you can gain new clients. We’re excited to announce that the 2014-2015 WeddingWire Education Guide is here, full of tips and strategies for growing and improving your weddings and events business!

The WeddingWire Education Guide provides lots of great content to answer your most pressing business questions from how to get more reviews and marketing strategies that work to the top client advice, networking suggestions and much more.

Check it out today!

Education Guide

» Networking for Wedding Pros: 4 Tips

As busy professionals, it can be hard to forge professional connections in addition to all the duties and responsibilities associated with your business! Especially for those individuals who may solely represent their wedding business, it’s hard to find the time to devote to networking.

Even though you’re a busy Pro, personal branding and networking can be big drivers of referral business. Networking for Wedding Pros doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking – try our tips!

Networking for Wedding Pros: 4 TipsGet to know people before you pitch them

One of the most off-putting parts of networking events is when another Pro homes in on you and starts pitching you about their business! Yes, one of the biggest benefits of networking is building connections with other wedding professionals to further your knowledge or identify opportunities for collaboration, but you shouldn’t walk in and start talking about yourself immediately. Spend time talking to other attendees and getting to know a little bit more about them first before you start wheeling and dealing!

Make a list of questions

If you’ve followed some of our previous tips and started the event with a goal in mind, you should make a list of potential questions you’d like to have answered. If you’re looking to further your knowledge or you’re seeking advice from other Pros, it’s important to come prepared with a few questions you’d like answered. At the very least, they’ll serve as talking points so you can get the conversations flowing easily. At most, you’ll leave the event wiser than when you walked in.

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» 5 Ways to Network Your Way to New Business

Networking is an important way to stand out and get new business in the wedding industry!

We know expanding your professional network can be tricky at times, even if you’re a member of a industry association or group. Check out our infographic with top tips for being a super networker from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP.

Network

» Who’s in Your Professional Network?

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

While doing my research for the recent webinar on networking, with its accompanying survey, I found myself weaving back and forth between formal and informal networking.

Formal Networking

Who’s in Your Professional Network?What I call formal networking is when you belong to one of the myriad of associations and groups that dot the landscape of the wedding and event industry. Formal groups have a structure, typically meet at the same date and time each month, and have a volunteer board running it and a particular mission or scope. Some are local and some are national; many are the local chapters of a national group. The advantage of formal networking is the structure and predictability, as well as the tie-in to the national professional networks and often, state or national conferences.

Some are formed around a particular category or skill (i.e. Association of Bridal Consultants – ABC, American Disc Jockey Association – ADJA, or Professional Photographers of America – PPA). Some are centered around a few categories and are a little more broad in scope (i.e. National Association of Catering and Events – NACE, or International Special Events Society – ISES). While others are intended, specifically, to encompass all wedding and event professionals in a particular geographic area (i.e. Maine Wedding Association, Buffalo Bridal Association, Monterey Bay Wedding & Event Professionals or the Bay Area Wedding Network).

Teach me something new

One of the key tenets of these formal networking groups is education (something that’s clearly important to WeddingWire, which is why they allow me the privilege of speaking and writing for you here!). That said the survey results show that a majority of members do not feel they are getting enough high-quality educational content from their participation in networking groups. My question is whether the education is available, or whether the members just choose not to attend.

Informal networking

Both inside and outside the formal groups networking is happening as well. Whether you grab a cup of coffee with another wedding or event Pro, talk shop with them in the hallways of a conference or see them at bridal shows, any time you meet and talk with other Wedding Pros, you’re networking. Neither one is necessarily better than the other – they’re both valuable in building your brand and business.

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» Network Your Way to New Business

Network Your Way to New BusinessWebinar Recap!

Networking is an important part of your business’ growth! Being a good networker will help you to get more leads, build more connections and gain more industry knowledge. This month’s educational webinar for premium members focused on the value of networking.

WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his insights on how to become a super networker and get noticed in a competitive market. Check out these top five tips for networking success, below!

  1. Un-clique: You can’t extend your network without meeting new contacts! It may be comfortable to stick with industry friends at events, but challenge yourself to meet new people and you may be rewarded with a new friend, mentor or future referee.
  1. Be a resource: Be helpful to your network and offer advice, tips or insights to other Pros from across categories when you feel comfortable with a new connection. People enjoy and respect others who are friendly and working to making the industry better as a whole, and your openness will be noticed and appreciated.
  1. Refer others first: Want to know a secret to getting more Pro referrals? Offer to refer them first! While it is important to only refer Pros you do know and feel comfortable with, making the “first move” when you know a client who may need a great florist or Planner in town can break the ice. Referrals are always appreciated, and they will be likely to return the favor.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: Business Peaks, 2014 Trends 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, Pros 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 Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Business Peaks, 2014 Trends and MorePeaks in business

When do you start seeing peaks in your wedding business? Is there a specific time you start seeing more inquiries, and is there a specific time you start working more events? Pros from all categories discuss the seasonality of the wedding industry.

Share your peaks >>

The value of national associations

A Pro wondering about the value of joining a national association asks for advice. Does joining an association like ABC give you credibility? Pros weigh in on the opportunities for education and potential referrals gained from being a member of an association.

Join the discussion >>

2014 industry trends

As Pros head into high gear for the 2014 wedding season, a few business trends have begun to appear. Last-minute bookings and smaller, more intimate ceremonies have been growing in popularity this year.

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» Networking Events: 5 More Quick Tips

With the start of the WeddingWire World Tour in Miami, FL just around the corner, we’ve got networking on the brain! We know that the networking opportunities at WeddingWire World are part of the big draw for our Pros, and with five events on the World Tour, we’re ready to help facilitate those important connections.

We offered some tips for attending networking events in our first post – below are 5 more!

Be selective about your events

Choose networking events where you know you’ll have something in common with the other people attending. Many local networking events may not be industry-specific, so try to filter out the events that are most worth your time. Check out the WeddingWire World Tour schedule to see if we’ll be coming to a town near you, or be on the lookout for an email from us when we’ll be near you for a Mix & Mingle, Networking Night or Workshop!

Networking Events: 5 More Quick TipsMake the first move

If you’ve been to a lot of networking events, you’ve noticed that attendees tend to polarize. Some people are extremely social and will spend the whole time proactively making conversations with others. The other types of people tend to sit alone, waiting for other to approach them. They’re often on their phones trying to look busy. Approach those people and make the first move! You’ll be helping them break the ice and begin a conversation. It’s great for your network, and it’s a kind deed you can do for others to ease their tension.

Be yourself

Although you’re at a professional event, don’t be afraid to show some personality! It can be stressful and draining to keep up an overly-stiff façade while at networking events, and as a result it can make the whole ordeal much more unpleasant than it has to be. Honesty and authenticity are great traits, and they’ll shine through if you’re being yourself. Don’t worry about trying to keep your personal life separate (unless you want to!). Be yourself and you’ll make both friends and professional contacts.

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» Celebrating National Small Business Week!

Celebrating National Small Business Week!It’s officially National Small Business Week, a week-long celebration put on by the Small Business Association that recognizes the important contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners to the health and well-being of the U.S. economy.

Did you know that more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business? Individually, small business owners may feel small, but together they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. every year. That’s a huge percentage!

Many of our Pros are small business owners – they’re an important part of the WeddingWire community and a valuable resource for engaged couples across the nation searching for local wedding professionals to handle their big day. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our Pros for making WeddingWire their partner in success.

Even if your wedding business is not familiar with the Small Business Administration, you can still take part in this exciting week! Here are three ways your business can celebrate:

Show your support

Small Business Week is a nationally-recognized event, so show your support wherever you are! Add a sign to your business’ store front to raise awareness about this week. You could also give your clients a special benefit or discount for booking during Small Business Week, or host a small event to thank local customers. Any little bit helps to bring more attention to the importance of small businesses!

Join the movement

If your business happens to be located in San Francisco, Kansas City, Boston or DC, look into attending one of the official NSBW events. These are all great opportunities to network with other small businesses and learn from their successes. There are also several online events you can still register for if you have some availability during the day. Or, if you’re really pressed for time this week, take a few minutes every day to follow along with the hashtag #SBW2014 on Twitter to see what attendees are talking about! Any of those options are great ways your business can get involved and feel like part of the national small business community.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: WeddingWire World, Friendly Discounts, 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, Pros 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 Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: WeddingWire World, Friendly Discounts, and MoreShould you attend WeddingWire World?

You may have heard that WeddingWire World, our day-long user’s conference, is touring five U.S. cities in 2014. Have you attended our World event in the past? Share your experience, or see what others are saying about it!

Share your thoughts >>

Discounts for friends

Do you offer a discount when working events for friends? If so, for how much? If not, do you provide extras that normal clients wouldn’t receive? Members weigh in on the pros and cons of each approach.

Offer your opinion >>

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» How to Prepare for a WeddingWire Networking Event

Networking is extremely important in the wedding industry, which is why we host Networking NightsMix & Mingles and now Workshops to bring local wedding professionals together to make new connections. While we try to host as many as we can in as many cities as we can reach each year, it can be hard for us to visit everyone – so you won’t want to miss out when we’re in your neighborhood!

We’ve given some networking tips in the past to help you make the most of networking events in general, but this post will help you specifically to be prepared for one of our networking events! Check out our tips below and you’ll be ready to mix and mingle with the best of ‘em when we’re in your town.

How to Prepare for a WeddingWire Networking EventSay “Yes” on your RSVP

This should go without saying, but you can’t reap the benefits of networking if you don’t show up! We’ll let you know when there’s an event happening in your area, so all you have to do is say “Yes” on your RSVP and attend the event. We’ll be sure to send reminders and keep you updated on anything you should do to get ready for the event. Making that commitment to attend will make it more likely that you’ll actually make it, and you’ll see just how informative and fun our events can be!

Don’t give away your business cards

Bring your business cards, but don’t pass them out like candy. Networking is about establishing connections with other wedding and event professionals, not just giving your business card to anyone you happen to speak with. Think of your business card more like closing a deal than an automatic action. We’ll also have WeddingWire swag and goodies available, so don’t forget to grab those, too.

Be ready to branch out

It’s great to get to know other Pros in your category, but don’t seal yourself off – there are opportunities to learn from other services categories and to build working relationships with related categories. If you’re a venue, take the opportunity to speak with a caterer to find out if there’s anything you could be doing that does or does not work well for them, and vice versa. You never know what you might learn!

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» Strengthen Your Business by Strengthening Your Relationships

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.

Strengthen Your Business by Strengthening Your RelationshipsUnfortunately, 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. Continue reading

» Top 5 Ways to Network on LinkedIn

Many wedding and event professionals are members of a small business, and certain service categories may require only one employee to constitute their wedding business. Officiants, DJs and Photographers, and others fall into this category. For those individuals who may solely represent their wedding business, personal branding and networking can be big drivers of referral business.

As busy professionals, it can be hard to forge these connections in addition to all the duties and responsibilities associated with your business. Networking events and association meetings are great ways to establish relationships with other Pros, but what can you do on a daily basis to network? LinkedIn is a great way for wedding and event professionals to network and build relationships with other Pros!

Top 5 Ways to Network on LinkedIn Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks differ from LinkedIn in that those channels are great places to represent your business and attract potential couples, but are not designed to build your personal brand on a professional level. You can create a business page on each to represent your company, and improve your brand awareness. LinkedIn is not likely to put your business in front of couples looking to book a wedding vendor. Rather, look at LinkedIn as a tool to grow your individual brand as a wedding professional.

If you don’t have a personal LinkedIn profile, signing up is easy and free. Once you get started on LinkedIn, follow these steps to help you network on the world’s largest professional network!

Fill out your profile completely. LinkedIn has a great feature that will help you fill out your profile and provide easy step-by-steps on what you should do next. You’ll add your full name, a professional photograph (no selfies, please!), a summary of your professional experiences and a description of your business and your associated duties. You can also go so far as to include any relevant school information or awards and honors that may set you apart as an expert! Even if you have an account set up, check in to make sure you have completed your profile as much as possible to maximize your exposure and keep your virtual resume up-to-date!

Connect with other Pros. Here comes the fun part – connect with Pros you know as well and connect with new industry contacts! Try finding your Pros I Know, Preferred Pros or other Pros you interact with in the Pro Forums through LinkedIn search. LinkedIn will also suggest other connections based on your connections, so you can easily expand your network to reach those you may not have met in person yet! Since LinkedIn is a dedicated social network for professionals, connecting with others in your industry (even if you don’t know them) is encouraged. Just remember to include a short note in your request explaining why you think the two of you should connect.

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