Today I’m sharing with you the cheapest way to advertise and grow your wedding business – networking.
I know you don’t have a huge marketing budget, especially when you are starting out, so in today’s episode I’m going to be sharing the secrets of how to use networking to grow your wedding business for success.
I am going to be showing you why networking matters, and sharing ways and places to help you take action and start growing your network.
Mentioned in today’s episode:
Becca: [00:00:00] Let me ask you a question. If I was looking for a wedding cake maker today, whose name would pop into your mind? How about a wedding florist or even a wedding? DJ life is often about who you know, and not what you know. And when other people ask that question, you want your name to come into their mind first.
I’m Becca Pountney wedding business marketing expert, speaker and bloggers. And you are 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 want to talk to you all about networking. Yes. I know that word sometimes conjures up awkward thoughts in your mind of standing in awkward rooms or standing around a table and having to present who you are to a [00:01:00] room of people or someone throwing loads of business cards at you.
But I wanna show you how networking can make a huge impact on your business. People often say to me, they don’t have much budget right now for marketing. They’re just starting out. They have to do everything themselves. And I always say that the quickest and easiest way to build your wedding business and the lowest cost is through networking and building connections.
So that’s what today’s episode is all about. I’m gonna start by sharing with you. Why I think networking is such an important marketing tool, and then I’m gonna give you some of my top tips. So first off networking, doesn’t have to be. Awkward and scary. You can make networking however you want it to be.
But it’s really important to know the significance in life of who, you know, not what you know. Now this is something my dad taught me from a really young age and I’m thankful to my parents for that, because it really has opened many doors for me. Now. It feels awkward when people say that. Cause we don’t like to think about how connections can get us places, [00:02:00] but in reality, we all know deep down that that is true.
I learned this from a young age, when I wanted to do my first work experience as a girl at school, I was in kind of year 11, 10, 11, something like that. All my friends wanted to do their work experience at like the local school or at the vet. I told my parents I wanted to work. In a television station, because at that point I wanted to be a TV presenter.
And so my parents used their contacts and we had a friend down the road who worked for the news station and they worked their magic using their contact. And my work experience at the age of 15, 16 was at the TV news station. It was incredible. Now I know I wouldn’t have got that opportunity without having those connections so you can see why connections are powerful.
They can open doors for you. And it’s exactly the same in your wedding business as. So that’s the first reason we wanna prioritize networking and building connections in our business because networking and connections always bring opportunity. The more people, you know, the more [00:03:00] people that you build a connection with, the more opportunities can come your way.
So for example, when I worked in television, often, we would be looking for people to contribute to the program. And the first place we would look is the friends and the family of the people who worked in the office. So obviously if you know someone in. Place often that can give you one step ahead of someone who doesn’t know you, if you make an approach to a TV station and you’re a total stranger, well, your chance of being listened to are much smaller than if you’re a friend of someone who works there it’s the same in the wedding industry.
Isn’t it we’re always asked for our opinion on different kinds of. Supplies for weddings. I’m asked all the time, do you know a florist? Do you know a cake maker? Exactly. Like I said, at the beginning of the episode and the more people that know your name and the more people that know who you are, the more opportunities are going to come your way.
Now you can also make your own opportunities in this regard. So if there’s something you want to do, there’s a magazine publication you want to be in. There’s a TV station you want to appear on. Perhaps there’s a venue you want to be listed at. Maybe there’s a wedding [00:04:00] planner you want to work with, or a conference you want to speak at.
You need to make your own connections and make your own opportunities. So do the research find out who’s already there. Find out who already has the contacts in those areas and start building your network and building connections. When I wanted to graduate and work in television, I knew that I needed more work experience under my belt other than just that year 10 11 work experience that I had at the news station.
So during my degree, I set about trying to find some work experience. Now I didn’t have any more connections and working in TV is a difficult industry. So I knew I had to go out there and make my own opportunities. So what I did was I found my favorite show on TV and I watched it on iPlay and I wrote down the names of everybody who worked there on the credits.
And then I set about, and I just emailed every single one because all of their email addresses were email@example.com. So I emailed everyone on the credits and asked for an opportunity. I asked for some work experience. I said I was willing to come up to London and help on the show. [00:05:00] Most people ignored that email, but one person.
Replied. And they gave me a day’s work experience, which turned into a paid job, which turned into the start of my career in television. I made my opportunity through the networking and through the connections by reaching out by being brave. So you’ve got to create your own opportunities, networking creates opportunities.
So make sure you’re meeting as many new people in all walks of life as you can at all times. And if there’s a certain opportunity you’re looking for, then start doing some research and find the right people to build genuine connections. The second reason networking is such a great thing for your business or building connections.
As I like to say is because it’s the lowest cost form of advertising. As I mentioned earlier, people often say to me, they don’t have much budget for marketing. They don’t have money to spend on Facebook ads or directories at this point because they’re just starting out. Building connections is basically free.
It doesn’t need to cost you [00:06:00] anything. Now there may be some costs involved. If you want to go to a conference to try and meet more people or go to a low cost networking event in your local area. If you come to my events, they’re free. So that really doesn’t cost you anything. It might cost you a little bit in petrol to get to an event or to drive a little bit further, but ultimately it’s not costing you a lot of money.
However, it is also one of the most effective forms of advertising. If you can be known by lots and lots of other people in the industry, and they know you and they like you, and they know that you’re good at what you do. They will go on to recommend you to other people. I see this in my network all the time.
People come to me, join my members club, because they don’t really know anyone and they start getting involved and they start meeting people. They start coming to events, they start showing up in the Facebook group showing up at the trainings and everyone starts to know who they are. And then this starts to lead to them getting opportunities and getting bookings because when their couples ask them, do you know a florist, do you know a videographer?
Do you know a DJ? Do you know a photographer? Their name starts [00:07:00] being shared around and that’s costing those people very little. Okay. It’s costing them a tiny amount each month to be part of my network and to build those connections faster, but networking isn’t high cost. You can also do it online. You can join Facebook groups, you can contact people on Instagram.
You just gotta be brave, reach out. And like I said earlier, make your own opportunities. As I said, at the beginning, when someone mentions the word wedding florist or wedding cake maker or whatever it is that you do, you want your name to be the top of as many people’s lists as. Now to do this, you’ve gotta keep on showing up because otherwise different people come into their lives and different names will start popping into their head.
But if you can be the person that everyone knows, I guarantee you as long as you’re a good person and you’re good at what you do, it will start resulting in people, contacting you to make bookings. And it’s not just within the wedding industry, that this is important. If you know, lots of people on the school run or in the gym and their friends and family are getting married, guess what?
You’ll get referrals. There’s a fabulous, uh, friend of [00:08:00] mine in the village where I live, who makes balloon arches. And she’s one of the most well connected people. I know if we walk down the street, she knows everyone. She says hello to everyone. And this has absolutely catapulted her balloon business.
Everyone recommends her onto people. She doesn’t need to do a huge amount of marketing because the word of mouth marketing from the amount of friends and connections she has in this area is incredible. And she’s really successful. So build connections, be a good person, be friendly everywhere you go, because I guarantee you, it will result in work for your business.
So now, you know, that networking is an important part of your business. It’s low cost, which is great. And it brings you work in, and also it’s gonna always bring you new opportunities. I wanted to share with you some tips and ideas about how you can practically go ahead and do this for your business. So you might wanna grab a pen of paper right now, so you can write some of these thoughts down.
So the first thing to say is that you need to show up in the right places. Now I highly recommend trying to do some of your networking in person. [00:09:00] Why? Because it’s a lot easier to build a connection quicker in person. And it’s a lot more memorable. Now I know that might make you feel nervous, but you can do this.
You’re great at what you do. You’re a good person and it doesn’t need to be scary to go and talk to other people. In fact, it will actually open doors and avenues for you. So here’s a few ideas about where you can go to find. People you need to put yourself in the right places. So first up is formal wedding networking events.
So I sometimes run some wedding pro get togethers. They’re very informal. They’re free to come to. So keep an eye on my social media or in my groups. Cause I normally post details of these events. In fact, I’ve got one tonight, the night that I’m recording this. However, if you haven’t got one from me in your local area, reach out to me, I’m happy to try and organize something or have a look around and see if.
Else is organizing them. There are other wedding industry groups and supply networks that organize events up and down the country. I haven’t always been to them. So I can’t vouch whether they’re any good or not, but if you can get yourself along to one, go and see and see who you can meet in the room.
These are really [00:10:00] great opportunities to meet with other like-minded people, both people that do the same as you and people that do different things to you, chat with them, find out more about them. Talk to them about what you do. Find out about what they do and start to build relationships and friendships with them.
I’ll give you a few more tips in a minute. The second place to go is wedding conferences. So there’s not loads of these in the UK. There’s a lot more in the us if you’re listening there, but do some research into if there’s any wedding based conferences. I hold my online summit every year and sometimes I do an in-person one as well.
So watch this space for information about whether that’s going to happen, but get yourself along to some of these wedding conferences. Yes, you’re gonna get loads of the talks and you’re gonna learn some stuff and you’re gonna have to pay for a ticket. But the best thing about these is the people you meet.
You’re putting yourself in a room with other like-minded people, other people that are willing to pay, to learn how to grow their wedding business, which means they’re like-minded, which means they’re likely to want to build relationships and connections and value that. So if you go to a conference [00:11:00] yes, make the most of the sessions and take notes, but also make sure you’re making.
Biggest opportunity when it comes to the coffee breaks, the lunch breaks and the tables you sit in. If you go with friends and just sit and talk to your friends all day, you’re not gonna grow your network. Whereas if you try and purposely move around and sit with different people, it will make a huge, huge, huge difference to who you meet on the day.
Now the final place. I think you can go to build some of these wedding industry connections is wedding fairs, wedding expos, wedding shows, whatever you wanna call them. They are great because you know, there’s guaranteed to be suppliers there. Now you can do this in two ways either. If it’s a show you’re exhibiting at, make sure you go round and talk to the other suppliers when the show is quiet.
So normally at the end of the day is a good. Or even if you’re not exhibiting at a show, you can still go along. Now, don’t go along to a show and do this at peak time because people will be too busy to speak to you. But if you know, the end of the day is typically very quiet. Go along to one of these wedding shows at the end of the [00:12:00] day.
Be up front, go round and chat to people. Make sure you tell them early on that you’re not looking to get married, so they don’t do a big sales pitch to you, but just say, I’m just coming to meet some other wedding pros in the local area. I’m interested to see what you do. Tell me about what you do. If it’s quiet at the show, they’ll be so happy to have someone to talk to because it can be boring towards the end of a wedding show when there’s no couples to talk to anymore.
And it’s a great way for you to go and build connections. In all three of these examples, you are guaranteed to find other like-minded wedding industry people, whether it’s at a networking event, whether it’s at a conference or whether it’s at a wedding fair. Now, bear in mind. Sometimes people don’t wanna talk and that’s fine.
If you get that vibe from them, just move on. It’s nothing to do with you. Some people just aren’t ready to open themselves up and don’t understand the value of connection. So maybe don’t spend loads of time with those people, move on and find people who are on your wavelength, because you’ll have a much better connection that way.
So once you found the people, how are we gonna start practically building the connection first up, you need to get involved whether this [00:13:00] is online in a membership group or in a free Facebook group or at the event, there’s no point standing on the sidelines or being quiet. If you are in my membership, for example, make sure you’re showing up to the calls.
Show up when it’s live chat to people, reply to comments, post in the group. Do things so that you show up, come to the events, come to the Christmas party, even if it’s a bit of a way for you to come, it will make a massive difference to your business. Get your face known by people so that when people meet you, they know who you are because you’ve shown up.
If you just are passive participant in groups online, no one knows you exist. And yes, you might get the information from the groups, which is great, but you won’t get the connection. And it’s at the same an event. Don’t go and stand in the corner on your own, even though it’s really difficult. If you struggle to make conversation, go to where there’s drinks, that’s a really great place to go and meet people, go and hover by the drink station, make yourself some drinks and then talk to people who come over to make a drink as well.
Look around for people who look like they’re standing on their own and go and keep them company [00:14:00] or go and speak to the event organizer and ask for help. If it’s one of my networking events, I always say to. If you don’t know who to talk to come to me and I will introduce you to someone. And that takes that awkwardness away of having to go over and say, hello, first up.
But you have to get involved. If you put yourself in these places and don’t get involved, you are not going to be able to build the connection. Secondly show up often. There’s no good. Just going to one event and then hoping you’ve built connections for a lifetime, because you’ll be forgotten. Other people will pop up.
You need to make sure you are out there as much as possible show up regularly online show up to events regularly. Contact people that you’ve met, those events drop into their Instagram stories, send a reply to one of their Instagram stories, send an emoji, just remind them you exist. So that if someone asks them that day, do you know a cake maker, a florist, a DJ, a photographer, it’s you that’s top of their mind?
Why? Because you’ve been in contact with them. They’ve seen your name online. They’ve met you at an event and you’ve dropped into their DMS with a little emoji and a reply to their [00:15:00] story, your top of their mind. And that’s where you want to. Thirdly, when it comes to actually building connection, the best thing you can do is ask them questions.
If you’re at a networking event, or even if you’re dropping into their DMS or in a Facebook group, don’t be there to talk about yourself. No, one’s interested in your sales pitch, ask them questions, find out about them. Ask them about their wedding business. Ask them about how long they’ve been going, ask them about their struggles and what they’re enjoying about their business.
Ask them about ways you could collaborate, ask them the questions don’t even mention much about yourself, unless they ask you in return. People will remember you much more, if you are interested and genuinely interested in them, their life and their business. And then remember some of those details. If they tell you something, jot it down somewhere, remember it.
So next time you have a conversation with them. You can have a personal conversation with them. You can ask them how their wedding anniversary trip was or how that struggle in their business is going now. Or if they tried [00:16:00] that thing you suggested when you met up making a genuine connection is all about listening over talking.
The next way you can make an opportunity for yourself through these connections is by finding a way to collaborate. This can be really simple. I’ve got a great client in my group called Steph she’s a celebrant, and she’s really good at making these collaborative opportunities go and check her out on Instagram.
Or if you can’t find her I’ll link to her in the show. She does live videos on her Instagram, where she invites other suppliers in my membership to collaborate with her on them. This is great for her to get to know them because she’s jumping on a video call with them. She’s giving them an advertising opportunity and she’s making herself memorable.
She’s also thought of some other ideas with her Instagram, where she’s been interviewing people and putting their responses and giving them some promotion on her grid as well. Do go and check them out. I’ll link her in the show notes. You can make your own collaborative opportunities. If you wanna make a good connection with someone.
[00:17:00] Invite them to do something with you. I do this all the time. Maybe you should come on my podcast. Maybe we could do a blog post together. Maybe I could put you on my blog. It’s much better for me to give someone opportunity rather than just say, please remember that I exist. It’s it’s helping them. And obviously it’s helping me as well.
So think about what opportunity you could give to someone. Could you showcase them on your Instagram? Could you share them on the story, even something simple as taking a photo of you both while you’re at an event and tagging them and saying loved meeting X person today at the wedding fair or at the wedding conference, these are really great opportunities because then it’s sharing each other on your social media pages and you’re helping build that connection.
Or maybe you have a blog on your website and you could offer them to do a guest blog. Perhaps you’ve got a style shoot coming up, and there’s a way you could collaborate on that. Think about the collaboration opportunities you could create in your business so that you can offer them to people when you meet them.
Now, be careful with this strategy. You want to make sure you’re [00:18:00] collaborating with people. People who have a similar ethos or are on brand with what you do, depending on what that collaboration involves. But it’s a great way to build a deeper connection. And you can do this with people that you feel like are way too big for you to be connecting with.
So if there’s a big wedding planner you want to work with or a venue, think about ways you could collaborate and offer them some kind of collaboration. Hey, um, I love your venue. I’d love to come down and. Photos so that I can write a review about you on my wedding blog, a great way to get in with a venue and a great way to build a network and a collaboration with the people who work.
And the final way to build genuine connections and to get going with this networking stuff is to help people and genuinely help people, ask people what they find hardest in their business and see if there’s a way you can help. If you see someone popping up in a Facebook group, asking a question about technology and you know, the answer reply to them, offer to jump on a zoom call with them and help them out offer to send them a direct message with more information.
Be [00:19:00] generous and helpful. If you are at an event with someone, ask them, um, what they need help with. See if they need help with connections that maybe you can connect them with someone, perhaps you can say, oh, I’ll introduce you to some other people at this event, because I already know more people help them out and they will be thankful to you and remember you and will want to repay the.
You can never be too generous or too helpful in the wedding industry. Trust me, even if someone does exactly the same as you do, you can never be too generous or helpful share with them. Share ideas, share inspiration. There’s enough work for everyone out there. And if you do the same thing, you can refer work onto each other as well.
When you’re fully. Booked. Okay. Let’s recap then make sure you’re getting involved. Show up regularly at events or online and get involved with conversations type. Hello, write posts, reply to posts. Talk to people at an event don’t remain silent. Ask questions, be a good question asker and a good listener, rather than just talking [00:20:00] about yourself.
All the. Find collaboration opportunities that you can suggest to people, whether it’s being a style shoot together, being on a blog, sharing each other on social media or something else. And remember, you can never be too helpful to someone else. Be kind and generous, be a good person and help people out.
If you help them solve a problem. They’ll remember you for a really long time and be thankful for it. If networking and these things feel really scary to you, then reach out to me on Instagram and I will give you some more tips to help you joining a network. Like my paid for membership is a great way to fast track those connections because you’re putting yourself into a group of people that are willing and open and wanting to make connections with you is a really good way or attend an event.
One of my events, or find an event in your local area and be brave show up. Have your business cards with you and be ready to talk to people and think about those collaborative opportunities. You’ve got this. You absolutely can do this. Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert or somewhere [00:21:00] in between, there is a way you can network.
If you try any of the tips in this episode, I would love you to tell me, let me know, send me a direct message on Instagram. And if you’ve enjoyed this episode, please go ahead and subscribe to the podcast and leave me a rating below every little helps. I’ll see you next week.