Business networking in the wedding industry is an effective and low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions. It is not just an exercise in collecting business cards! The wedding industry relies heavily on word of mouth and referrals, so networking and getting your brand and business out there is particularly important.
Usually, face to face networking groups are the preferred option, but with websites such as LinkedIn now available, networking can now also be achieved online.
Here are our 10 top tips for successful networking:
1. Who should I network with? – Target groups and contacts relevant to your aims. If you only work within the wedding industry then try and find groups that are specific to that. If you provide a service that expands wider than that, try a general networking group.
2. Planning – Try and find out which other businesses are attending and which ones you are most interested in speaking to. Think about what it is that you want to say to each one and also what you would like to achieve from meeting them. Have a look at their websites, social media and even try and connect with them before the networking event.
3. First impressions count – How do I look, what should I wear? As it is a business networking event, then a business dress or very smart/casual is usually what is required. Your appearance is a representation of your business.
4. Introduction – Describe yourself concisely, who you are and what it is that you do. If you have a USP, use that as part of your introduction. A firm handshake is always good, and avoid cheek to cheek kissing at this stage.
5. Help others and you will be helped – If you are offering help to other businesses, what is it that you would like in return? If help is not offered, then be brave and ask for it.
6. Integrity, trust and reputation are vital for networking – It’s OK to mention how long you have been in business, as experience and knowledge can go a long way. Also, mention other businesses that you work with that will add credibility to you. Remember not to undermine your competitors to others and also not to gossip, as you never know who the other person is connected to.
7. Arrange a follow-up meeting – If you have established rapport with someone then don’t be afraid to suggest a follow-up meeting. Have your diary with you, so you can get something secured there and then.
8. Positivity – Listen to what others have to say and contribute where you can to the conversation in a positive manner. If someone is being negative, do not mirror them, as you will probably walk away feeling like it has been a wasted conversation.
9. Be focused – If you know who you want to connect with, remember to leave enough time to speak to them all. Refer to any notes that you made before the event and ensure that you have achieved what you came for.
10. Life balance – Being able to talk about other things apart from business is good. It gives the impression that you are well-rounded person and also shows your true personality. Just be aware that sometimes conversations can go off on a tangent, so be prepared to be the one to bring it back to business.