Who doesn’t love a good team? A wedding is a quintessential, real life example of superheroes coming together and uniting their unique expertise to secure a victorious wedding celebration.
But gathering a fantastic team can be hard, and making sure you, as the venue host, is on it can be challenging. This is where the power of networking comes in.
Yes, networking. It’s tough, but indispensable even in the wedding industry if you want to achieve exponential growth and continued success.
What does networking mean?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions to cultivate productive relationships for employment or business.” For wedding venues, this boils down to connecting with other vendors so that you know more people and more people know you. It doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating--it can be as informal as a sincere “nice to meet you” when vendors set up on your property, and typically, genuine interactions create the most lasting relationships.
Why should you network?
It’s beneficial to all parties! By connecting with vendors, you'll gain valuable knowledge about their experience and have the opportunity to share your own insights--whether it's new trends in the wedding industry, or as simple as what's been going on locally! Networking helps you gain a group of collaborators who you can ask for advice in their area of expertise when you or your clients need it. When you repay the favor and are open to answering questions, it also builds your credibility across the industry. If people know you as being knowledgeable, approachable, and easy-to-work with, then they’re more likely to recommend you to couples who come to them first and ask for suggestions for venues. Word-of-mouth recommendation is always helpful and an organic way to expand your reach.
Likewise, having a trusted network and sharing a pre-populated list of preferred vendors allow you to better support your clients. Oftentimes couples don’t know where to start and/or feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities so this is a wonderful way to provide superior customer service. This is especially prevalent with last-minute micro weddings! If you’re able to guide them with 3-5 vendors per category who have worked well with you, this gives both you and them peace of mind knowing their event is in good hands. Plus, vendors get an extra publicity boost so in the end, everyone wins!
Who should you partner with?
While it is always beneficial to partner with vendors that are selected in the beginning of the wedding timeline - think jewelers and planners - we advise you not to pigeonhole yourself by only focusing on these vendors! Instead, increase your network to include all vendors from florists to photographers to caterers--finding local partners that share the same knowledge of the area (and maybe even similar style/aesthetic to your work!) will likely draw in a similar customer base that will result in solid, high intent referrals!
An easy starting point is connecting with local vendors who you trust. Couples often want to “go local,” but they don’t know how to find some of the smaller local vendors who you have in your network. You, however, may know them from being in the same community or working with you in the past.
It’s also advantageous to recommend vendors who work well with you and know your property. This way, you’re not referring random people and having their issues shadow your work and whether they’re local or not, vendors who know your property reduce risk for you and help ensure success for your couples, keeping everyone happy!
Photographers or videographers in particular are some specific wedding professionals who you should come in contact with. They are often looking to create and promote new content. Consider a collaboration where you provide your venue space and agree to feature their content with credit for their great work that you can share and show off!
Even other wedding venues are nice to be on good terms with. It’s healthy to not see venues near you as competition because not every venue is a fit(style or price-wise) for every couple. Their booked weekend can also lead to a referral to other venues like you. This industry can feel like a small world where what comes around, goes around so if you refer them, they might refer you in the future--in the end, we all want happy clients!
How do you network?
Networking seems like a cold, business term, but in reality, you want to make authentic connections. Take the time on wedding days to talk with vendors at your venue, take their card, and follow up. If you’re more comfortable talking in person than over the web, ask to chat one-on-one on a coffee date. Just like friendships, you should focus on quality over quantity and be open to new and upcoming vendors who might surprise you.
Refer, refer, refer! Good karma comes back around. For example, if a couple says to the vendor that you referred them, they might feel valued and refer you back later on. Same goes to bad karma. Don’t talk poorly about other vendors to couples or even other vendors. It’s always better to stay professional and disclose a truthful experience when asked.
After you find your networking buddies, publicize your partnerships! Ask to feature them on your blog, or be featured on theirs. Share on social media your collaboration and tag the vendors’ accounts. Be personal, and comment and repost. Not only will potential clients see you through your public interactions, but other vendors might also choose to reach out and just like that, your network continues to grow.
Just like your couples, the team of vendors for each wedding will be different every time--after all, that’s the beauty of nontraditional weddings, each one is unique. By continuing to grow your vendor network, you'll be able to introduce yourself to potential teammates for future events and positively fuel your business for years to come! Now what are you waiting for?! Put on your cape and let's get crack-a-lackin'!