I have to say that networking has been one of my FAVORITE parts of being a business owner. Getting to know people & even better – sending them referrals & connecting them with other people… I LOVE it.
BUT as with everything, there are down sides – making a mistake is never a fun thing. Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros wrote an article last week that I would LOVE to share with you. It is called “Giving is More Important Than Receiving” and it shares 5 really great tips on good networking, oh and… my photos are featured at the top. An added bonus!
Thanks Michelle for this great article!!
Giving Is More Important Than Receiving
Networking should be an important part of your marketing plan. It is an inexpensive way of increasing your sales. Referrals from other wedding vendors are usually pre-qualified. This means that the colleague referring business to you knows about your business and is matching you with a client who has already been determined to be a fit for your niche. As time passes and advertising trends shift from print to wedding websites to blogs to social media to whatever is next, vendor referrals are still a primary way of getting business.
So, what’s the easiest way to get referrals?
If you want your colleagues to send clients your way, you need to send clients their way. Here are my 5 tips for sending referrals to other wedding professionals:
- Get to know the wedding vendor. Meet for coffee and ask them about their business. (It’s easy to want to share about your biz primarily. But, if you want to send business to them, you need to know about them.) Find out who is their target market and their niche. You should know all about them, so you can best match them.
- Ensure that the vendor is reputable. Your name and your brand is on the line when you make a referral. It’s easy to LOVE every colleague you first meet. But, keenly observe their professionalism, reputation, and service before making referrals. Learn which wedding vendors will give your clients the service you would provide.
- Make sure the client is a good match for the vendor. Don’t send anyone who “needs a photographer” to your new vendor friend. Make sure that it is a match for the style of the client, and the niche of the photographer. It doesn’t do any of you any good if you are sending weak referrals. Find out exactly what the client needs and try to fill that need.
- Be an expert. Engaged couples look to their vendors to give expert advice. By being knowledgeable about the wedding industry, and professionals in your region, you’ll be better able to service them. Get smart with what your colleagues do and how they differ. Find colleagues who match your design aesthetic. For example, if you are invite designer, you’ll want to know all of the florists in your area and how their styles differ. Find which florists match to your artistry. Floral design and stationery design go hand in hand when it comes to all of the day-of details.
- Prioritize giving, not receiving. Call it karma, goodwill, paying it forward… call it what you will. The universe has a funny way of giving you what you need, as long as you give too. If the focus is on giving, you will begin to get referrals. It may not even come from the vendors that you have referred. It really does work!
Giving a good referral is all about a) knowing the customer, and b) knowing your colleague. Then, it’s your job to play matchmaker. Soooo… why not set up a coffee date with someone new for this week? Why not get to know someone in your industry a little better? (Pssstt… do it now.)