Today is Wednesday BNI Spotlight day and this week is going to be a bit different – I want to highlight a GREAT blog (with a great writer behind it) this blog gives business advice, highlights wedding vendors and goes through step by step on how to run a successful business. Sage Wedding Pros – we love them!
Originally Michelle (the creator/writer) & I met through BNI we were in different chapters, but that is the great thing about BNI they really encourage you to reach out to outside members/chapters. We became fast friends, running into each other at all the wedding events. Michelle is the owner of Mmm…Paper a custom invitation company, the President of Get Hitched Give Hope, and the creator of Tuesday Toast, she is not only incredibly talented & creative she is one of the smartest & most business savvy people I’ve ever met!
Monday’s post on Sage Wedding Pros really struck a chord – its about networking (the key to getting the best business – referrals!) and I wanted to share it with you! (feel free to read the post below – or click HERE to enjoy all of the other great advice on the site)
Networking (and other Inexpensive Ways to Increase your Sales)
Posted: 13 Jul 2009 06:00 AM PDT
In 2009, businesses have to work smarter and harder to achieve revenue. People are still getting married, but they are spending less on their wedding. So, what this means for us wedding professionals is that we have to book more jobs than in previous years. (Oh boy! How do I do this?) What I see happening is that small business owners have more time and less money these days – not the most favorable of things.
“I’ve got more time, but less money these days.”
So, how do we turn this into an opportunity?
This week, I am going to focus on 4 things you can do to promote your business that are inexpensive and sometimes free. They usually require an investment of your time. This isn’t new information to many of you, but I’m hoping to give you a new spin on these tried-n-true tips. Today’s tip is to: Maximize your Networking
Call another wedding professional and have a cup of coffee
A few years ago, after tracking my sales results, I determined that a growing percentage of my sales were coming from vendor referrals. In setting my forecast for the upcoming year, I wanted to increase that number. I knew that simply increasing that number in theory was great, but that I needed to have a plan to actually achieve results. I committed myself to meeting with one person in my industry every two weeks. And, so began my mmm… paper Seattle vendor tour. And, I met some GREAT people!
What I started to see was that not only did people learn about my business, but more importantly I learned about their business. I learned what THEIR client was all about. I went in thinking that I would sell them on my business, but learned that it was more about finding a match in our clientele and finding a connection between their business and my business. I was further able to define my niche and I was further able to provide them value for their business. And, this in turn led to quality client referrals.
So, call someone up and ask them to meet up for a cup of coffee. Learn about them, learn about their business. Ask how you can help them. By sincerely extending yourself to them, they will naturally extend themselves to you.
Organize a casual mixer
When I moved to Seattle, I met with a wedding planner who I fell in love with. She and I became close friends. For months, we talked about putting together a gathering of wedding professionals. Months turned into years. I finally got my act together and started hosting Tuesday Toast. Tuesday Toast is a very casual and informal cocktail hour that takes place monthly – on a Tuesday. Barbie Hull has joined forces with me on this and helped take it to great lengths. It’s so fun to get together with wedding folk every month to talk shop and toast the industry. I meet new people and catch up with old friends. And, it’s EASY to do. Set up an evite and mail it off to your wedding peeps, start a facebook group, or a meetup group.
Expand your network
It’s easy to get comfortable. I go to networking things and end up talking to all my favorite people that I know so well. The problem with that can be that I’m not reaching out and meeting anyone new. This can happen at wedding industry events (such as Tuesday Toast) or even on a more general level… not branching out beyond the wedding industry.
So, reach out to someone outside of the wedding industry. Reach out to someone who does something completely different than you. I myself don’t do graphic design in my wedding invitation business, so I love to have great designers to whom I can refer. If you are a photographer, why not reach out to someone who solely does baby portraits? If you are a florist, why not reach out to the flower shop down the street that doesn’t do weddings? If you are wedding planner, why not reach out to a corporate event planner? These are great partners to have as they can refer business to someone who is an expert in something different that what they do.
Think outside the box
You’ve heard it all before… network, network, network. This is nothing new. But, rethink the way you network. Rethink your strategy. Rethink the way you are meeting people who can send business your way. Take the time that you have now to invest in relationships. These relationships are worth their weight in gold!
(re-posted from Sage Wedding Pros website – with permission by Michelle)