The power of word of mouth marketing

Show notes:

The power of word of mouth marketing is something I talk about frequently and in today’s episode I talk to Kevin Dennis about how he has used it to build his own wedding business. From networking meetings to wedding days, Kevin builds connections everywhere, and his business has benefited as a result.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of Wedding IQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services.

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Time Stamps:

Helping out and building relationships (00:00:00) Kevin discusses the importance of helping others and building relationships in the wedding industry.

Introduction and background of Kevin Dennis (00:00:53) Becca introduces Kevin Dennis, his background, and his experience in the wedding industry.

Starting in the wedding industry (00:02:19) Kevin Dennis shares his journey into the wedding industry, starting as a DJ in high school and transitioning into his own DJ service.

Challenges and changes in the industry (00:06:51) Kevin discusses the significant changes in the industry, particularly the evolution of DJing from vinyl to digital.

Keys to success in the wedding business (00:07:58) Kevin emphasizes the importance of relationships and networking as key factors in his business success.

Building relationships and networking (00:10:30) Kevin discusses the significance of belonging to associations, local groups, and getting involved in the community for building relationships.

Effective networking and relationship-building (00:13:20) Kevin advises on the importance of genuine networking, listening to others, and taking time to build relationships.

Practical tips for networking (00:15:42) Kevin provides practical tips for effective networking, including feeling comfortable, bringing a wingman, and researching the guest list before attending an event.

The importance of personalization in networking (00:16:55) Emphasizing the impact of personalizing interactions and avoiding generic approaches at networking events.

The significance of business cards (00:17:28) Highlighting the enduring value of business cards and the impression they create in networking.

Professional email addresses and first impressions (00:18:37) Stressing the importance of using professional email addresses and the impact it has on initial perceptions.

Challenges in networking events (00:19:29) Discussing challenges such as alcohol-related issues and inappropriate behavior at networking events.

Etiquette and behavior at networking events (00:21:07) Addressing the importance of open communication and respectful behavior while networking.

Respect and professionalism at venues (00:22:15) Emphasizing the need for respect and professionalism while working at event venues.

Collaboration and respect for venue rules (00:25:10) Highlighting the significance of respecting venue rules and fostering collaborative relationships.

Welcoming new members in networking events (00:28:36) Discussing strategies to welcome and integrate new members into networking events.

Building relationships on the wedding day (00:29:57) Exploring the importance of building relationships with other suppliers and venues on the wedding day.

Collaboration with similar industry professionals (00:33:28) Highlighting the benefits of collaborating with professionals in the same industry and fostering positive relationships.

Referrals and Relationships (00:34:45) Discussion on the power of referrals, building relationships with competitors, and mutual support in the industry.

Collaboration in the Wedding Industry (00:35:38) Highlighting the healthy collaboration among wedding coordinators and photographers, emphasizing the benefits of working together.

Building Trust and Networking (00:36:37) Emphasizing the importance of trust-building, networking, and referring business to competitors for mutual benefit.

Embracing Change in Business (00:38:48) Kevin shares insights on being open to change, evolving with the industry, and the value of adapting to new ideas.

Conclusion and Networking Tips (00:41:16) Encouraging listeners to learn from the episode, build better relationships, and be courageous in networking while sharing contact information.


Kevin: When you’re there on the day of, like, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped move chairs for the caterer or I’ve, you know, noticed that the photographer was struggling and, you know, like helping them move, you know, their, their camera bags or just, you know, helping when you can see. It’s needed. Does that make sense?

And not look at it as, Oh, not my problem. You know, cause if I’m standing around and I don’t have anything to do, why not help someone else that looks like they might need help? I think that goes a long way.

Becca: I’m Becca Pountney, wedding business, marketing expert, speaker, and blogger. And you’re listening to the wedding pros who are ready to grow podcast.

I’m here to share with you actionable tips, strategies and real life examples to help you take your wedding business to the next level. If you are an ambitious wedding business owner that wants to take your passion and use it to build a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get going with today’s episode. Today, I’m chatting with Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services and editor of Wedding IQ. With over 35 years in the wedding industry, he has built a huge amount of experience and lots of connections along the way. In 2010, Kevin even founded the Tri Valley Wedding Pros to bring the industry together in his local area, and he’s been involved in many industry associations too.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, Kevin is big on building relationships, and as you will know, this is one of my favorite topics too. So I’m excited to dive into this conversation. Kevin, welcome to the podcast.

Kevin: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Becca: I am very happy to have you here. And for the sake of the listener, we have been having all sorts of tech problems, but we are here and we are rolling through it, and I find it so funny that we’re having tech problems when your business has the word sound in the title.

Kevin: I know, I know. It happens. It happens to the best of us.

Becca: Absolutely. We like to keep it real around here. Nothing is ever perfect, so we keep it, we keep it real. Now, Kevin, it’s great to have you. As I said in the introduction, you’ve been in the industry a mere 35 years, which is impossible when you’re only 36 years old.

But I want you . Oh, I appreciate that. , I want you to take me back to, you’re my new favorite person. Excellent. I like that. I want you to take me back to the start. Take me back to where this foray into this wonderful world of weddings started from.

Kevin: So it all started for me in high school, believe it or not, I was a nerd in high school and my neighbor started a DJ company like DJing the local like high school events and just.

different things. And so he needed a roadie. So I offered to help him, you know, cause, and I would drive, set up all his stuff. And then I was like, Hey, I go, I want to start like DJing on my own. And he’s like, Oh no, you’re not good enough. And I was like, really? Cause I’m good enough to load the truck and good enough to do all the dirty work.

So I said, you know what? I said, I’m going to do this on my own. So I sold my, my prize 73 Chevy Camaro. And bought speakers and turntables. That’s how long ago it was and started buying records and all that kind of stuff and started my own DJ service. And then before, you know, we, you know, grew, grew and grew, you know, so it was kind of, I started in 89.

So it was, this was like a few years after helping him. So in 1989, when most people in the wedding industry were born, that’s what I find now I started my company. And so we started out just TJ and like, you know, just school dances and all that kind of stuff. And while I was going through college, I, you know, what’s doing just.

Kind of more fun stuff. And then in 1995, I was like, you know what? I can actually make a living out of this. And I decided not to, you know, follow my, my college dreams and follow my, my business dreams. And here I am today. I’m still doing it, supporting my family. You know, we, we grew over the years. The kind of nice thing is I’m 45 minutes east of San Francisco in the United States.

And so we are, even though we’re like really close to San Francisco, I don’t want to work in San Francisco cause it’s kind of a pain working in that city. And it’s kind of, I’ll be honest with you, all you UK people find a different U S city to visit. Cause San Francisco is a dump right now. I’ll be brutally honest with you.

You go to New York or Chicago or LA. I would recommend all those. And but anyway, so we, you know, just working in the city is rough, you know, even from, you know, like without traffic, I’m about, you know, like 45 minutes away, but You know, usually it takes about anywhere from two hours to get there. And then once you’re in the city, it takes another like 20 to, you know, 30, 45 minutes to get to where your location, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s a truck.

It’s a, it’s a lot of work to get there. So, you know, so we out in our little neck of the woods, we have a little wine country and we’re kind of like you know, just below about an hour and 15 minutes below Napa. And so right now in my, in Livermore, California we have a little over 60 wineries. And so, you know, and where do couples like to get married?

Wineries and golf courses and, you know, hotels and all that kind of stuff. So we’re really benefiting right now in our little, little market out here. And it’s, it’s, it’s a lot of fun out here.

Becca: That’s awesome. And I can’t believe that right back at the start of your journey, the person said to you that you weren’t good enough.

Imagine if you listened to that and not gone ahead and did it. I know. How different your life would have been.

Kevin: I know, right? Well, 100%. It would have been night and day because I, you know, shortly after I stopped working you kind of gave up. I was like, you know what? I went and worked for a couple other little DJ companies doing school events and I, in a short amount of time became their most requested DJ at the school events.

And I was like, you know what? I know what I’m doing. I paid attention enough.

Becca: Exactly. And that’s why we shouldn’t always listen to everyone’s advice around us because they’re not always right in what they say. So do you remember? Or truthful. Well, or truthful. Yeah, absolutely. Do you remember your first wedding booking?

Because I love taking people back to the beginning because when I get new clients, quite often they say to me, I think getting my first booking is going to be the hardest one. Do you remember taking your first wedding booking way back in the day?

Kevin: I, yeah, I’ve been doing this too long. Unfortunately, I don’t remember.

I’m lucky. I remember the couple’s name from last weekend. But I do, I remember the time like back in the day, you know, like it was a whole different time because we, you know, like I said, I was doing the weddings on vinyl, you know? So like, I, I think in, in my profession, you know, like, That is night and day difference.

Cause now it’s like I can get any song off of, you know, iTunes or wherever and download it. And I have it on my DJ software and I’m ready to go. And I can usually do that in a matter of about 30 to 45 seconds. You know, like compared to when You would have to go to multiple, multiple, multiple, multiple record stores.

Like I would, I, every Thursday, what is my, my, my record buying day. And I would head out to San Jose, which is another part of the Bay area. And then I would start at a couple of record stores there. And then I would drive to San Francisco and hit about three or four record stores there. And then that was kind of like my day.

And if I really needed it, I would hit Berkeley on the way home. And that was kind of, You tried it. Berkeley’s kind of weird. So you know, we always try to stay out of Berkeley, but they had a couple of good, decent record stores, but you know, and that’s what you would go find all your music for the weekend and any like new hot song got released on Thursday.

And that was kind of the, you know, and this one, there was a really good record store and I would hit it up every Thursday at noon because they would get their shipment at 10 o’clock every morning, every Thursday morning. So I wanted to be kind of the first to get some of the hot new songs, but now it’s like.

You know, download, you got it. You know, there’s no more of that journey involved. I was like, that’s why I call it DJ for dummies nowadays.

Becca: Yeah. Well now it’s so, so different, but over those 35 years, you’ve seen a huge amount of evolution in the industry, I’m sure. And at the same time, I’m sure there’s a lot of things that have stayed the same.

What do you think have been some of your biggest keys to success in your business?

Kevin: For me, it’s been relationships. I’m going to be honest with you. I was fortunate to meet a caterer. Through like like a business networking type of a group, we would get together every Wednesday morning at 7 a. m. And so I was 22 years old back then and I, 7 a.

m. was not part of my wheelhouse. So I would show up literally with like jeans and a sweatshirt and, you know, and you had to like, I referred the tire guy and I, you know, it was about like what, you know, writing or business referrals, but, you know, and there was a small amount of us that were in there that were in the, Wedding and event industry, but there, you know, there was an attorney and an insurance agent and you name it.

There was a bunch of business people in there. And after being part of that group for about maybe six months, the caterer that I was kept, kept trying to get business with and wasn’t, she’s like, all right. And she called me record spinner. She goes, okay, record spinner. You need to like, show up. Like you want to run a business.

show up like you look like you want to have a business and not like you just got out of bed. And she wasn’t lying. Like literally I figured out this thing, it was seven o’clock in the morning, I’d wake up at six 40 and I would literally roll out of bed, brush my teeth, you know, throw a hat on and, and, and rolled to this thing.

And I thought I was fine, but obviously it was not. So the very next day. meeting after she said that I showed up in a shirt and tie, took a shower, got up earlier, and I continued to go. And it took me, she goes, you know, it took me almost at about another three to four months until she gave me a piece of business, but I kept persevering through it.

And I was like, you know, cause I really felt like she was going to do something. And meanwhile, it’s kind of creepy, but her, her two venues probably are about 65 percent of my revenue today. You know, and stuff. So way back in the 1992, you know, like if I, you know, like how different, you know, we were talking about how different my life would have been if I didn’t listen to that guy, you know, I keep, I wonder if I would still be doing this today if I didn’t continue to, you know, fight to get her piece of business.

Becca: Wow. Yeah, that’s an incredible story. And I love that you’re still doing so much work with her today. Quite often when I talk about networking, because as I said in the intro, I absolutely love it myself. And I think it’s really important and foundational. I always say you never know where that next relationship’s going to lead to, right?

And you couldn’t have envisaged 35 years ago that that would still be bringing you so much business today. And just that small change in that perseverance. So going on from that, going on from that first kind of networking meeting, where else have you sought to build relationships in your wedding business?

Kevin: So I’m a big believer in belonging to some type of association or a group that you can belong to. You know, like I was involved with WIPA, which is huge in the United States. You know, I was the their international president when we were trying to get, you know, chapters across the country or across the world.

I mean, you know, but it was, you know, so that gave me notoriety, you know, got me on podcasts like yours here today that kind of stuff. But I really think it’s, it’s belonging on the local level because I think at one point, like I learned, like I was very involved in my local chamber of commerce. I was very involved locally and then I started grow, grow, grow, and I started going like more across the country and I realized, you know what, I’m missing the local stuff.

And so when I, when my time was done on the board, I was like, I got back to the, you know, got back to my roots. Got, You know, back involved in the local chapters of the event associations out here got back involved in like the local chamber of commerce, you know, even though like you don’t know there, you know, it’s harder to get, I think, event business out of those type of groups, but I think it’s more about being visible.

And, you know, and, and, and, you know, it takes a long time to get that, you know, connection, so to speak. But then once you do, it’s like, oh, hey, I have a friend that I know that I can refer to and vice versa. And it just takes time. So it’s kind of, I started out locally, went and I got, you know, kind of big for my britches there.

And then I was like, you know, after it’s done, I was like, you know what, it’s time, you know, because people are like, they would make my staff would go to the local events and they’re like, Oh, is Kevin too good for us? Is Kevin does, you know, and those kind of comments would come back. And I was like, I’m not too good for you guys, you know, like, and so I was like, all right, I’ll get back involved locally because I realized that’s, you know, you need to be visible.

And I think that’s half of it. It’s like you can’t. Just go to an event once, you know, it takes multiple times. I’m a big believer. It takes two to three years to build, to build relations, you know, like, so if you join an association, you gotta know, you gotta be in it for the long haul. You can’t, you know, you can’t join a group or an association and expect to get business on your first meeting.

You know, or it might take you, you know, some people it’ll happen in a year, but I really feel it’s the two to three year you’re in it for the long haul. And I think too, it’s like, get involved in a committee, get involved in, you know, the board of directors. And then, you know, you start building that notoriety, your name has been said multiple times.

You know, you’re mentioned at the meetings as, you know, as one of the leaders of the group, you know, it, it, it, but it, it’s time, it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Becca: Yeah. And I think that is a misconception that people think they can just turn up to one event and that’s it. They’ve done their networking for the year and then everyone knows them, but actually, you know, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Kevin: Yeah, my wife gets mad at me when I use this comment, but I call it spray and pray they walk around with their business cards and spray them across the room and pray that someone’s going to hire him and no one, you know, because I can’t tell you how many times people walked up to me at like one of the networking events and they just hand me a business card and, and like, say like maybe two words, you know, a couple sentences to me and then walk away.

And I’m like, yeah, I don’t know anything about them, you know, and, and, and you got to realize it’s relationships, you know, like I always go, you got to take yourself back to dating, you know, it’s almost like you’re dating again, you know, you don’t walk, you know, you don’t kiss on the first date sometime, you know, you know, saying that, you know, it takes time, you know, it, it, it takes time.

Becca: I totally resonate with you. And one of my first podcast episodes, Kevin, I did about wedding prose that you don’t want to be. And one of those characters that I created for that episode was the business card thrower, which is exactly the kind of person you’re describing that just walks in, throws their business cards on the table.

I was like, anyone want one? And everyone’s like, no, not really. Like, thanks very much.

Kevin: No. No, have a, like a, you know, have a cocktail with me or how, you know, like sit next to me at the dinner or, you know, and let, let’s talk and get deeper. And the other thing too, as I learned is you got to listen to people, that’s a big thing, you know?

So, you know, get to know people deeper. You got to listen to them and don’t dominate, you know, it’s not, you know, I know how to do that, or I know that person. And I, you know, it’s just like try to connect with them, you know, on a personal level. And I think that’s where the relationships really. You know, because people want to do business with what they like, you know, like the, one of the florists I recommend I’ve literally been, you know, I, he’s done all my major events in my life, but also, you know, I probably have known him since the late nineties, you know, and we’ve just, you know, and so it’s like, Oh, you need to, you know, call Carl and the team over there at Delford West and they’re going to take care of you, you know, and they’re, you know, and that’s the kind of relationships you have.

Becca: Okay, so let’s get practical for a moment because I know there’ll be people listening that are thinking about going to a local event or a local networking thing, but they’re nervous and they don’t really know how to go about it. They’re scared. They don’t want to be the business card thrower and the spray and prayer, but they do want to build good relationships.

So do you have any practical tips for those people if they’re going to an event about what, how they even get started when they walk in that room?

Kevin: So I think a little bit, this is going to sound silly. So wear an outfit you feel comfortable and you feel good in. I think that really goes a long way. You know, cause sometimes if you not, you’re feeling a little frumpy that day or whatever, that’s, you’re going to feel down, you know, so you got to put yourself in the right frame of mind.

And so I think it’s, Different for every person, I’m the type of person when I go to networking events, I need a wing man or a woman, I need someone to go with, I feel more comfortable walking into the room with someone else, and then like, I have a really good friend of mine that she is better by, she loves going by herself, and she loves working the room by herself.

You know, and so I, you know, so everyone is a little different. So, and I think a little bit too is sometimes nowadays depending on the type of event software registration software they use, you can kind of do a little research on who’s coming. If you can see the guest list, that’s another good idea.

Like study the guest list. Okay. I really want to meet. Susie at the rental company. And I want to meet, you know, Betsy over at the wedding planning company. I’ve been trying to make those connections. So then, you know, get to know a little bit about the people you want to connect with before you even go.

So look at their Instagram or looking on any of that kind of stuff. So if you can make a comment to them and say, Hey, I saw on your Instagram, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You know, about that last wedding you did, I really liked how you did this. I, you know, then, then, It kind of hooks them a little, you know, they’ll be like, Oh, they know a little bit about me there.

You know, it kind of opens the door. I think it’s that. And that’s all it is. It doesn’t mean you can come in the house. It just opens the door at that point, you know? So, so that’s a good one. You know, we talked about spray and pray or what did you call him? Business card thrower. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a networking event and someone doesn’t have a business card.

So, and even though we’re in this very techie age that we’re in, I still think that little piece of paper goes a long way and that’s still, that’s you, I’ll be honest with you is probably the only, that and envelopes are the only thing because very rarely do we mail anything nowadays, but when we do, I wanted it branded and I, and I only have business cards now.

You’re like, we don’t print. I feel sorry for all my print friends, but we don’t print. You know, we’re not in that world anymore, but I think a business card goes a long way, you know, I really do. And then I, this is a weird pet peeve. And I’m going to tell you if, if it’s, you know, Betsy, the wedding coordinator at gmail.

com, I don’t take you seriously. So, so before you go to a networking event, you need to be, you know, Betsy at. The wedding coordinator. com, you know, you know, kind of like have a, you know, I don’t know why, because it’s just something that’s stuck with me over the years is that I feel like the people that have at Gmail at Yahoo at whatever, and it’s not their business name are not in here.

They’re not real, you know, they’re not taking their business real, they’re not setting themselves up for success. So I don’t know why that is, but that’s one thing. When someone hands me a business card, that’s the first thing I look at.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree with you. And I think it’s important for us to realize that people are making instant judgments about us and our business based on how they perceive us at the meeting.

Exactly how you said from your first meeting, they didn’t take you seriously because of the fact that you were late and how you address, you know, people are going to make those judgments whether we like it or not. And therefore we need to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward. Okay. While we’re on the subject, then I’d love to know any, Bad experiences.

I’m, I mean, I’ve got stories as long as my arm. I’m sure you do too, about where I’ve been at these events and people have had an interaction with me that is not good networking. Do you have any examples, any stories, obviously don’t use any names, but anything that comes to mind or any examples of where it goes wrong?

Kevin: So, you know, alcohol is usually served at these events, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to, as a leader of the group, put someone in a taxi or an Uber and give them, you know, send them home because They’ve drank a little too much, you know, and I’ll be honest with you. There are people that you just know automatically are going to be that every time.

And that’s not a good look for your business, you know, cause I always feel we, there’s different times to have those type of engagements with us in the industry. When you’re at a conference and you’re all go out together, you know, that’s. Yeah, yeah, Taiwan on, let’s have fun and let’s party, but at a networking type of an event, that’s not the time to Taiwan on and let’s party.

It’s not a party time, you know, just, you know, it’s just, I think that’s, that’s a big one. And the other one is, is don’t be. Like a lurker, you know, and what I mean is if you see someone there, there’s someone that used to come to our local NACE group long time ago and they would stand, you could just feel them over your shoulder and it was like burning and I’m like, and you would go and I, without using that person’s name, I’m like, is such and such behind me right now, I would say to that per, I don’t know why I would just, you could just feel them, you know, and I’m like, yes, but it, you know, cause I, I really think you need to be open when, when you go to these events, like don’t close yourself off.

But I do think there are like, Hey, this happened at the wedding last weekend. Let’s talk about, you know, like you might be the first time you’ve seen someone since something happened and you need that little moment, you know? So if you see that people are closed off. Don’t go insert in like try to wedge yourself into the group because I don’t think that goes really well, too There was another networking group.

I belong to and The gentleman had a nickname of the shrimper and it just he would literally peruse the buffet table to the point where everyone noticed that, you know, he ate all the shrimp on the buffet or whatever. Yeah, I don’t even know. And so it just, you know, and so it was, it became a joke when you were planning an event, Oh, make sure there’s enough shrimp for the shrimper, you know?

And so you don’t want to have like someone giving you a nickname or any of that, you know, you need to be on your best behavior, you know? And again, it’s like, I think where people go wrong, even, even when you’re working in an event, like all of us. That don’t own venues. Got to remember when we’re on, you know, someone’s property for a wedding that, you know, someone’s hired us for, we are literally, you got to treat it like we’re a guest in someone’s home, you know?

So you’re not going to go stand on the chairs. You’re not going to go walk in the back room and just start grabbing things you need, you know, so you need to be the, the vendor. That is prepared. You know, you have your, you know, you know, scissors and tape and whatever you need to, need to have to do your job.

You have it with you. You know, I can’t, it, it one that I told you I worked for that lady you know, for since 92. You know, I’ve been working at her properties and one of the things that is like a pet peeve for me at her, at her properties is we’ll be there cleaning up at the end of the night. And, like, they’ll go, and you know, another vendor will be loading out, and they use all the carts.

That they have there, but what’s happened is, is now the staff can’t clean up the tables and, and all the stuff at the end of the night that the carts they use because the vendors using it. And so then the, the staff is getting upset at that vendor because they’re, you know, monopolizing all their carts and it’s now they don’t realize it because it’s costing the venue money because now the staff can’t clean up, you know, and get out of there and clock out.

Yeah, at a decent amount of time because they’re, you know, they’re using all their stuff and that stuff goes noticed, you know, I think along the way. So you need, I mean, invest in a card or a hand truck or all the items you need, but that even goes back to, you know, when, when we’re networking at, at the, at these events is that we’re a guest in someone’s home.

So you’re not going to go open the door, go look behind, you know, if, if there’s a rope blocked off of a room, stay out of it, you know, don’t, you know, or don’t I’ve seen how many times have I seen a, a, a caterer walk into the kitchen of someone else’s venue, just cause they want to see the kitchen, you know, go find the venue and say, Hey, I would love, you know, I’m a caterer, blah, blah, blah.

I can, I would love to see your kitchen, you know, is it possible to get a tour? You know, and, and go that way, you know, there, there’s so many ways to get the end result that you’re trying to look for, but in a, in a polite way. So I think, you know, remembering whether you’re at a networking event or whether you’re working, you know, a wedding on someone’s property, you’re a guest in someone’s home, you know, and I say home is, you know, your guests at the venue.

You know, like another, a lot of the, a lot of these venues have like lists now of, you know, rules and regulations and all that kind of stuff. And what’s happening here in the United States is with the, in the photographer category is people are wanting to bring a photographer from another city. So some of these photographers are coming into our market and they basically go, I don’t give an F anymore about the rules because I’m never going to be back to this venue again.

And they do, you know, they’re going into like spots of the vineyard and they’re not supposed to, they’re standing on chairs or, you know, they’re not abiding by the timeline. They’re doing all kinds of crazy stuff because they don’t care.

Becca: So yeah, but that, that attitude won’t get you very far because it will catch up with them eventually, because you know, we know what it’s like in this industry.


Kevin: I agree.

Becca: We, we don’t want to burn the bridges that are being made there for us. Otherwise we won’t have the 10 years time.

Kevin: Well, exactly. Well, and flip that. What if I go and I, you know, I, I’m from another city. I come into that city and I work and I’m amazing. You right. Who’s to say they’re not going to, you know, and then I shared my photos with them and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Who’s to say they’re not, they might not refer. I mean, they may refer me down the road. I mean, there’s an opportunity for more business instead of just looking at it with blinders on. I got a piece of business. You need to look at it. Hey, I want to get more business in this area. Who knows, you know, you, you just never know where the next piece is going to come from.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And respecting the venue, respecting the staff of the venue also go a very long way. Do you want to know one of my other ones, the one of my other pet peeves about networking is people that turn up. and act like their whole life and everything’s always perfect. You know, like we see that on Instagram, like the perfect thing, but even at networking, you know, with the people who are like, yeah, I’m fully booked.

I’m always fully booked. Everything’s great. I’m like, that’s not true. Like, let’s just, like, there’s gotta be something like, let’s just be ourselves. Because I think when someone comes in and, and kind of emits that everything’s great vibe, it just makes everyone else feel really rubbish. And no one really wants to talk.

To everyone about how great their lives are. Actually, these things, the great thing about networking is having the opportunity to share our struggles, to share what’s going well, to learn from each other and not to just pretend everything’s rosy all the time.

Kevin: Well, it’s, it’s funny to me cause there was a wedding coordinator.

They have since decided not to be in the business anymore, but there was a wedding coordinator in my market that would do anywhere from eight to 12 weddings a year. Right? So on a good weekend, my company does, you know, eight to 12, even more weddings a weekend. And so they would act like they were the one, they knew, you know, you needed to bow down to her, you know, and give her the curtsy, the whatever, how you guys do it a whole lot more formal over there in the UK.

But you know what I’m saying? You, you had, but I’m like, girl, you, why? You know, it just, but she had this like arrogance about herself, That she’s a planner and I needed to kiss her. You know what? And I, and I never did because you know what? It’s like, I, I, I was always friendly with the people that I’m, you know, that are friendly with me and not, you know, I, I didn’t, I didn’t want to play the game if that makes sense.

You know, it just, there’s something about it. I’m like, and in my head I’m like, Girl, you do 12 weddings a year and, and usually she hires our company for at least half of those weddings. So it’s like, why am I going to, you know, I never went out of my way to go bow down to the, to the queen of, of the 12 weddings a year.

Becca: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, again, being respectful to everyone in the room, right? There’s no, so and so’s better than so and so. We all just need to be there to help each other and a rising tide raises all ships is one of my favorite quotes and I think that’s very, very true in our industry. How do you think, then, we stop?

When you’re very established in the industry and you know people, it’s really easy to be in these rooms and you know everyone. When new people walk into the room it can be really daunting and they find it harder to maybe break into some of those conversations or be amongst people who they feel already have these established relationships.

How do you think we all, as an industry, can welcome newer people in better?

Kevin: You know, there’s what Gigi in, in, in my old NACE chapter. She was the queen of this. So if she would look at the guest list, you know, because we were all on the leadership side of putting on these events and she would go, we have four new people today and we need to welcome all these four new people because we want these four people to come back to our next month’s meeting and the meeting after that.

We don’t want them to show up and feel not welcome. So she made a point. To have all of us go and just like as a board you know, introduce ourselves to them, make them feel welcome, but then become a connector, you know, it’s like get to know a little bit about them and then, okay, hey, I think you would want to meet, you know, this one.

I think you’re going to want to meet this person. Let me introduce you. Let me introduce you. And I think there’s a lot of power into being a connector as well. When you go to these events.

Becca: Yeah, there definitely, definitely is. Now we’ve talked a lot about kind of formal events, formal networking events, but also I think there’s a lot of benefit from building relationships with other suppliers and the venues on the wedding day itself, especially for those vendors like yourself that are actually there on the day.

How do you go about building relationships on the day itself and what’s working for you in that?

Kevin: So I think it’s good ahead of time is like if you get the timeline from the wedding coordinator is like, Hey, You know, making sure that lines up with everything the couple has told you, as well as everything that, you know, if, if you notice that, Hey, they only marked, you know, five minutes for something, but you know, that it’s going to take longer, like, Hey, ahead of time, you know, reach out to that coordinator and do that.

I always, you know, try to, you know, reach out to everyone and say, here’s our Instagram handles, here’s our, this, and we’re looking forward to working with you ahead of time. So you get there, you’ve already made those kinds of connections. But then even I think when you’re there on the day of, like, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped move chairs for the caterer.

Or I’ve, you know, noticed that the, a photographer was struggling and, you know, like things were just kind of, you know, the wedding started off late. So now he or she’s late, just helping them move you know, their, their camera bags or just, you know, helping when you can see, It’s needed. Does that make sense?

And not look at it. It’s not my problem because I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and say, Hey, I can’t thank you enough. I really appreciate, you know, because if I’m standing around and I don’t have anything to do, why not help someone else that looks like they might need help? I think that goes a long way.

And then the other thing too, on the day of, I think it’s, let’s all, we’re all in this together and we’re all on team couple. And I think that’s where people, you know, get wrong. It’s like, I’m the photographer and I’m the most important person at this wedding. Then it’s the wedding. I’m the wedding coordinator.

I’m the most important, you know, everyone’s trying to figure out a pecking order instead of, hey, We’re on team couple, you know, like we’re all there for the couple and let’s work hard for that couple, you know, together and and whatever that takes, you know, for all of us to have a successful wedding. I think that goes a long way.

You know, and that’s where I think a lot of people forget, and unfortunately, I pick on photographers a lot when I, when I do speaking, but they’re the ones that will close themselves off and not include themselves like, you know, when, when we’re doing our dinner, you know, like we get fed and we’re usually in a different room here in the United States, like they put us in a different room or wherever, and they’re feeding us is like, you’ll be there and You can’t see me on the video, but they turn their backs to everyone else at the table, and we’re all like, okay, and they’re having their own conversation, which I think is fine, but like, be welcoming and like, talk to people and get to know, I mean, it’s literally like a 20 minute plus time of the wedding.

Like that’s a time where you really can get to know someone and you might make a connection. The grossest thing I will say with that is a photographer, literally took her shoes off, socks off and put her feet up on the table. And I was like, I did not want to eat my dinner. It was the grossest thing.

thing I have ever seen. So anyway, don’t be that person either.

Becca: I was gonna say, maybe don’t be that person if you want to make friends and build a relationship, because I can’t imagine you want to work another wedding with them anytime soon.

Kevin: And it’s, and we all started, we were all, we were like, what the? You know, we were like,

Becca: what’s going on?

Each to their own, each to their own. Okay, the final venue, or sorry, the final supplier relationship I want to talk about is probably the one that some people find the most controversial, but I think can also be the most powerful. And that’s building relationships with people that do the same thing as us.

Have you done that over your career? Have you found that? Or have you found people to be adverse to them?

Kevin: No, I actually, so it’s kind of interesting. So that venue that I told you that I work at with, you know, for the lady that I’ve been at for a long time. So we’re, our company has evolved over the years and we do a lot of lighting, drapery, decor, chandeliers and kind of stuff.

And so we’re one of two exclusive lighting vendors at her, had her venues. I have a phenomenal relationship with the other supplier and that’s on there. And it’s. They’re from South San Francisco, which is, you know, it’s kind of by the San Francisco airport. And I’m out here. I’m literally about eight minutes from the venue.

So if it’s a smaller wedding and they don’t want to make the trip out here, they refer me. I will say I started now where I refer them for any, anytime I hear San Francisco people want us to do lighting, drapery, chandeliers. I refer them, you know, immediately because I don’t want to work in the city. They love working in the city.

You know, and we just and anytime we see each other at a networking event, we always make a point to say hello. My son is now 20 years old and has been working in our business and the wife of that other business has really made a little friendship with my son and always ask, you know, seeks him out and sees him and talks to him and, you know, You know, so it’s, it’s, you know, I think there’s a lot of power in that.

There’s another business in my market that literally started a year after me and we have become the two, like it’s either people are referring his company or my company or both, you know, kind of thing. And we, I have a great relationship with him to the point where I, you know, I’ll send him referrals like we stopped doing school events about almost 9, 10 years ago and you know, anytime a school calls us like, hey, we got a great DJ for you and we send them over there, you know, kind of thing.

And so, you know, I think there’s a lot, you know, and even for them, they we’ve gone really big and drapery lighting and decor. So if it’s something. Way outside their scope, they refer, they refer us, you know, and I think there’s a lot of power, like even with that like when I say, Hey, use, you know, that other company in South San Francisco, they’re phenomenal and they’re going to do a great job for you, I think when that, that client’s going to go to them and that they’re going to have a higher success I’m booking that piece of a business because, you know, it’s, it’s being referred from a peer to peer.

I think that goes a long way. So I think, I think you got to know all of them, you know, and you get to know the good and bad and ugly, you know, and I, and I think, you know, who I think really does this well is the wedding coordinator category and the and even the photographer category because you’ll see a lot of times is, you know, You know, a wedding photographer that has her own business, but she’s assisting a different photographer that day.

I mean, assisting another wedding coordinator that day and then vice versa, they’ll, they’ll help each other out. It’s, you know, because on a day they don’t have weddings, they’ll go and just be an extra set of hands behind the scenes kind of thing. I see that with photographers sometimes you know, one is a second shooter for another one and vice versa, you know, so I think those categories do it really well.

Becca: Absolutely. And I think it, it’s a really healthy thing to do. I think if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, I can’t be friends with anyone that does the same thing as me, you’re misguided and it absolutely can be some of the best relationships. Some of the best business relationships can be with people that on paper are your direct competitors, but actually can be your friends, your confidants and refer work to you all the time.

Kevin: What? And they understand your pain points, you know, like, because their pain points are your pain points. I’m going to be honest with you, you know, and the other thing you got to remember is you can’t do every wedding, you know, it’s impossible. So you need to have people when you’re booked that you can refer, you know, and vice versa, you want people to then send a referral when they’re booked, you know, so I think it goes a long way.

You know, especially when you see a piece of business come in at a, at a venue that, you know, you know, unfortunately you’re not available that day, but you know that, you know, X, Y, Z, you know, whoever vendor will do a great job. You can say, Hey, we’re not available, unfortunately for your wedding date, but here, here’s a good recommendation.

And I think that goes a long way.

Becca: Yeah, it definitely does. And I think it builds trust with that couple as well, because they know that you’ve got their best interests at heart and actually they then may come back to you for another event in the future. Kevin, I’ve loved this conversation. I love talking about all things relationship building and networking and you’ve, Drop some really great tips made me laugh as well.

I’m never going to forget about the photographer with their feet on the table. That’s going to haunt me for the rest of the evening. So if that is you listening, maybe don’t do that again in the future. Kevin, if people want to find out more about you, if they want to connect with you, maybe even network with you, where’s the best place for them to find you?

Kevin: Sure. So we’re at fantasy or wedding is the wedding education blog I run. And then it’s wedding IQ or at Wedding IQ for Instagram and then at fs ES events for Fantasy sound.

Becca: Amazing. I’ll make sure I put all of your links in the show notes before I let you know go. I always end the podcast with the same question, which I’m gonna pose you now, now, which is, what’s one thing you wish you’d known sooner in your own business?

Kevin: To not be afraid of change, I think is, is I for the longest time would fight, change, fight, change, fight, change. And I think now I have been, you know, more open to it, you know, like because you can’t do the same thing over and over again the same way. So you gotta evolve. And I’m just like that. I’m a very loyal person.

So like, you know, I, if you know me, you know, like there’s a few things that people know about me. Cause I posted out on social media Southwest airlines, which is a huge airlines here in the United States. I am Mr. Southwest airlines. I, I am Mr. Apple. I own everything Apple ever made. You know, and so you know, so I’m pretty brand loyal when it comes to stuff like that.

So it’s, it’s kind of funny that way, you know, and so you know, so I think just being open to change is, is something that I think. And be open to like a new idea so that when I started hiring staff at first, I was like, no, this is how we do it. And I think being open to another person’s idea might get you to a bigger profit, a bigger, you know, might bring in some more pieces of business.

So I think that, that, that when you ask that question and you sent it earlier, I was trying to think of like, Something profound, but I was like, no, it’s just like, I’m a stubborn old grump and I gotta be open to change. So that’s, that’s the biggest thing. So, and the other thing I learned too, one more thing is like, I’m a weirdo.

I love a nice straight line of, of tape. When you tape cords, and I’m very strange with this, and if it’s not per, so it’s like I, if people don’t do it the way I do it, I would lose my mind, and I’ve learned as long as it’s taped down, as long as no one can trip, it’s okay, but I’m, but if you ever see my tape job, it’s perfectly straight.

I, I don’t, I don’t, it, it’s just one of my weird things, but that, that, that, that doesn’t help everyone in the industry.

Becca: I love that though. You’ve, you’ve learned to let that go. And Kevin, quite honestly, if you hadn’t adapted to change, you’d still be in the record stores every single Thursday while everyone else is downloading from iTunes.

Kevin: So true. I do miss those days. Those were good days.

Becca: Kevin, it’s been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time.

Kevin: No, my pleasure. Anytime.

Becca: I love that conversation with Kevin. Wasn’t he fabulous? And he really did make me laugh. I hope you’ve learned something from today’s episode about how to build better relationships.

Be brave, get out there, go meet some people. But remember, if you ever see me or Kevin at an event, do not throw your business cards at us. I’ll see you next time.

Becca xo