Does the mere mention of this word make you start breaking out in hives?
You’re not alone.
Networking often seems like some weird extension of a middle school dance where everyone is on opposite sides clutching their punch glass. And of course, you have the “cool kids” in the middle of the room talking and laughing like they’re having the best time of their lives.
So why do it?
Because we want others to recommend us, right?
We all know the benefits of being recommended. It’s one of the reasons we hand out business cards or tell people to follow us on social media.
In fact, recommendations carry more weight.
So the problem isn’t that we don’t understand why we should network for the health of our business. The problem is that we don’t know how to do it effectively.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the term: Friendor – a vendor who is like a friend.
To have a friend, you need to be a friend.
Not sure what that looks like when you’re networking?
Here are 3 easy tips to help:
#1: Leave your home.
Yes, there are real people outside waiting to meet you in person. And there is no substitute for an in-person conversation, connection, or collaboration.
You can join a styled shoot, go to a networking event or arrange a coffee meetup with a vendor you’ve worked with before.
Take time and get ready, look and feel your best, and do some research on the person(s) you are meeting with beforehand. Get to know who they are, what they’ve done, what they like/don’t like, etc.
Networking is the beginning of a relationship. And relationships take work. At the start, at least one party in the relationship needs to take interest in the other party. You can start first.
Ask about a project/wedding they did you saw on their Instagram. Ask about their inspiration. Ask how they got started. Ask where they want to take their business in the future. Ask how you can help.
You already know about you. Get to know them.
You got a business card, a coffee date, even a comment on your social media post – now what?
It’s like tennis. I hit the ball to you, you hit the ball to me, and if you don’t hit the ball to me, I check and see if you are still there. Are you ok? Is there something I can do to help?
Because I care. Because to have a friend (or friendor), you need to be a friend.
Life is busy. Wedding season is busy. It is easy to get sucked in and swallowed whole only to reemerge in the winter wondering where the last 8 months have gone.
So be intentional. Put some effort into it.
Like any other part of your business, if you want it to succeed, you need to work at it. Networking is no different.
But people should like and recommend me because I’m the best.
I don’t have time to do networking. I’m busy.
All of these points miss the reason networking works. The beauty of the recommendation has to do with the relationship. It isn’t just about being the best. You can look up reviews online for that. You want someone you know to tell you. Someone they trust.
And they trust their recommendation based on the experience they have with them.
It is the same for networking and vendor recommendations.
#3: Get help.
Ok, so this might make sense to you but you are also thinking that to do these things takes a certain amount of energy that you don’t have right now.
The anticipation, anxiety, fear of rejection – it all can give you those hives we talked about at the beginning.
This is why we have our events structured the way we do. Our State of the Wedding Industry events are structured so you just have to show up. You don’t have to think of a witty line or try to interrupt someone’s conversation in order to meet someone. We break everyone into small groups and lead you in small group discussions and then have a large group discussion about what everyone was talking about. You naturally form bonds with people there because you’re vulnerable – not because you’re weak or inexperienced but because everyone else there is vulernable also.
Our TBME events are also structured to provide another way of connecting and forming relationships through shared experiences. Yes, it is a styled shoot content day. Yes, you learn more about social media. Yes, you get to listen to editors talk about how to get published on our publishers panel. But the biggest takeaway is that you have new experiences with other vendors. You collaborate together. You laugh together. You create together. You leave with new friendors to recommend and who recommend you.
Every event we have done, multiple vendors tell me that they got booked from or will book a new vendor they met from one of our events. And the reason is because they now have new shared experiences and a new relationship with that vendor.
It can be scary stepping out and saying hi to someone you don’t know. Rejection is never a fun experience. But the reward is extremely worth it in so many ways. And when you are in a safe and supportive environment, those risks for stepping out of your comfort zone are almost completely gone.
I get it.
But to get something new, you have to try something new.
Come join us at one of our State of the Wedding Industry Forum Events or The Bridal Masterclass Experience Styled Shoot Content Days (TBME).
I promise it will be like no other networking event you’ve ever tried before.