Happy #WeddingWednesday, Planner Friends! Today on The Bridal Society blog we have another guest post from one of our own, Cathy Nugent of Cathy Nugent Weddings. Read below what she has to say about successfully building relationships with other vendors.
Think about all that goes into a wedding day.
Between the details and the vendors, each wedding is as unique as the couple you’re planning it for. So, as a certified wedding planner, you already know it’s a lot. You also know how crucial your fellow wedding vendors are to the successful execution of the event. That’s why it’s so important to work and build relationships with high quality wedding professionals in your market. But, building long-lasting relationships with vendors can be easier said than done in, what may be, an oversaturated market.
Spoiler Alert: It’s not about all your sales pitch.
I get it. You want to pitch yourself to this vendor in hopes that they see how you stand above the rest of the planners and want to work with you (and refer you) in the future. However, the biggest mistake I see people make when it comes to trying to build relationships with their fellow vendors is that they go straight into pitching themselves to the other vendor without so much of an introduction. Not only is this distasteful, but it also makes them feel like they’re just a stop on your rounds. Believe it or not, it’s not all about a sales pitch.
Change Your Mindset About Networking.
I think it’s important to adapt a different mindset when it comes to networking with other vendors. Just like you, vendors are people too. There’s a real person behind that brand who works as hard as you do. But, most importantly, that person wants to feel heard, respected, and appreciated.
I think the key to this new mindset of building long-lasting relationships with other vendors is to be genuine. Don’t go into networking thinking about what you could gain from a relationship with a specific person. Instead, go out of your way to see how you could work together to help them. By showing them that you want to work together to make their role on the wedding day easier, you’re going to stand out from the crowd by showing them you care about working as a team to provide the best experience possible for your client. After all, a wedding day is not a one-woman (or one-man!) show.
Think back to what Laurie said in our certification course about approaching venue managers!
Start by inviting them to coffee!
If there’s one thing in this world I love, it’s the level of conversation that can happen over a cup of coffee. You’d be surprised how much you can find out about a person just by sitting across a bistro table from them at your local coffee shop.
When I want to network and build a relationship with a specific vendor, I will always invite them to coffee by telling them I want to get to know them and the heart behind their business. If it’s a venue manager I want to connect with, I’ll always reach out to make an appointment to learn about them and tour their venue.
But, most importantly, I mean it. I don’t make the first meeting all about business. By taking the time to learn about them and asking about their passions and love for weddings, I find out a lot about that person while learning about their business at the same time (without them even realizing it!) Not only does it show that I care about the person behind their brand. But, it also shows that I’m as invested in them as I am their business.
Follow Up + Continually Follow Up
Have you ever had those meetings where you feel like you’re sitting through a sales pitch and then you never hear from them again? Building long-lasting relationships with other vendors doesn’t stop at that initial coffee date or venue tour. Like any relationship, it requires you to continually nurture it as it grows. Send a quick follow-up within a couple days of your first meeting to show your appreciation for their time and to show your excitement to hopefully work with them soon.
Whether you follow up with them with additional coffee or lunch meetings, collaborative projects, or by sending emails to check in throughout the year, it’s important to continually follow-up in order to grow those relationships.
Collaborations are a great way to build relationships while showing off your skill set. One way to do this is by planning a styled shoot with vendors you’re trying to build relationships with. You’ll be able to show what you can do and pitch yourself through the shoot’s planning process. Meanwhile, collaborations also serve as a ‘test run’ of working together to see how well you compliment one another.
Be Their Cheerleader
Another way to continually follow-up with vendors you’re building relationships with is to be their business’s cheerleader. Follow their social media accounts and engage with their posts. Show them that you’re excited about what they are doing. They’ll see that you care and most likely return the favor.
Show Your Appreciation
One last way to continually follow-up is to show your appreciation for them. Also, don’t be afraid to treat them every once in a while! Some ideas for showing your appreciation can include:
- Send them referrals!
- Send them a handwritten thank-you note after a wedding or collaboration project
- Send them a Christmas or holiday card with a Starbucks gift card to thank them for a great year
- Treat them and their staff to some goodies or lunch – Better yet, deliver it to their venue or office!
Start looking through the list of vendors that you wish to build (or continue!) a long-lasting relationship with. While there may be more to it than you’d think, it is so important to work and build relationships with high quality wedding professionals in your market for the sake of your clients. Who can you reach out to today? Make it a point to finish the year strong (or start 2018 fresh!) with your vendor relationships.