I spend an inordinate amount of time networking with wedding vendors. Getting to know them, sharing lunch with them, discovering who their families are, finding out their likes and dislikes, etc. And, I’ll often drive between one and three hours out of my way to do so. One of the obvious rewards to this might be referrals, but there is another, just as important, reason for good quality networking.
When involved in a consultation with a couple considering my services, above all other things, I strive to gain their trust. I do so by involving them in a variety of conversations. Caring about how they met, caring about who their families are, caring about their past experiences as wedding guests, caring about what’s important to them for their wedding, etc. One of the other methods I employ to gain their trust is by reinforcing and qualifying any previously made hiring decisions they’ve made in relation to their wedding.
How this begins is by asking what decisions they’ve made prior to meeting with me. Have they already hired a photographer? A cake designer? A ceremony officiant? A caterer? In addition to discovering how they found these vendors (which may give you additional talking points for later in the conversation), I will share samples of personal experiences from any of the vendors they’ve mentioned that I know. Unless I have any serious concerns with one of their vendor choices, I will comment on the strengths of each vendor, thereby reinforcing the buying decision they’ve made.
Everyone wants to feel like they’ve done the right thing. Generally speaking, people dislike being told they’ve made a mistake or done something in error. But when we’re told we’ve done the right thing, we feel good about ourselves and good about the conversation we’re in. In a unique way, we feel empowered.
The other very important thing that takes place is that I start to paint myself into the picture of their wedding. If I know some or all of their vendors and I speak of them in a way that communicates the positive and professional relationship I have with them, I begin to fit more naturally into their dream team of wedding vendors. They’ve already made the decision that those vendors are perfect for them and their wedding. The more I can include myself into that same group of people, the group of people whose trust they’ve already earned, the sooner I’ll find myself on their wedding dream team.
Read this sentence, for example, from the email of an upcoming bride, just moments after they booked my services for their upcoming wedding:
“I am extremely excited that all the people we have booked for the wedding have at some point worked together or know each other!”
She is so excited about the fact that their vendors (now including myself) have “at some point worked together or know each other” and the reason that she knew that, is because I asked about her vendors and shared stories about having worked with them before. Based on the context of her email, I think it’s safe to say that I definitely reinforced their decisions regarding the vendors they’d already hired, and of equal importance, it also very likely played into their decision to employ my services as well (via a FaceTime consultation, at roughly 3 – 5 times the price they could have hired a local DJ for).
Try to get to know at least one new wedding vendor every month (aim for more than that if you can). Something as simple as a series of Facebook messages, email, a phone conversation or better yet, meeting up at Starbucks or quickly grabbing lunch one day will get you closer to knowing them better than you do today. Compliment them on a recent showcase of their work online, talk with them about how long they’ve been in the business, why they love their business, what inspires them, etc. The topics are endless (contact me if you need more ideas).
As a result of that networking, you might gather a few extra referrals, but just as importantly, you are on your way to gaining the trust of prospective clients more rapidly. As described above, you’re able to reinforce decisions they’ve already made and of course, you’ll be painting a picture of their wedding team that includes you on it. This serves everyone well. The benefit is yours, theirs, and all of the other wedding vendors involved in that wedding.
So which wedding vendor will you start networking with today?
~ Dave T.
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