There are lots of studies that reinforce the idea that diversity is good for business. From increased creativity and innovation to a better understanding of your audience and ability to come up with solutions, surrounding yourself with people who can look at things through a perspective different than your own is an asset when it comes to building a thriving business—in any industry and including ours. But, building a diverse network for your wedding business doesn’t happen overnight or without thought; rather, it takes intentional effort and relationship building in order to get to a place where your wedding vendor network is as rich, creative, and diverse as it can be. So today, we wanted to not just share networking tips but also expert advice from Lauren Grech of LLG Events. Read on to brush up on your networking skills, build a robust network, and an inclusive business all at once.
Lauren Grech is an event planner living in New York City. She is also a professor within NYU’s Tisch Center of Hospitality.
Why having a diverse network is important
Surrounding yourself with people who are different from you is important for many reasons. And, in addition to ones that apply to people in any industry, there are some very specific reasons why having a diverse vendor network in the wedding industry can help you reach your goals. A diverse network can:
- Empower you to give strong referrals to your couples looking for pros who align with their values and have experience planning weddings in their culture
- Help you invest in your own education since you can learn about different cultures, best practices, and customs
- Give you what you need to grow your business (whether that be by connecting you to more ideal clients, growing into new markets or reaching any of your other goals)
- Help you build an inclusive brand (in fact, it is essential to doing this)
- Help strengthen the entire wedding industry
Pro-tip: Take your first steps towards building an inclusive brand and diverse network by educating yourself about inclusive language you should be using.
How to approach networking in the wedding industry
The thought of networking can be intimidating to lots of wedding pros (regardless of whether it is at an in-person event or via virtual networking), so Lauren shared her four phase approach with us to help. If you have ever stressed about how to meet new people and build real relationships with other wedding pros in the industry, these networking tips are sure to help you build one with confidence:
Research – It is important to approach any networking opportunity with a plan and you can use social media as your starting point. Research the pros you are excited to connect with, visit their website to learn more about them, and find their contact information. From there, you can start with an online introduction (make sure it is a personal one) and let them know what about their work, brand or personal style caught your eye.
Follow up – Most networking opportunities fall flat because people forget to follow up. But, more than just sending an email saying, “It was nice to meet you,” it is important to have a goal in mind as well as a small ask that brings you closer to it. That ask might be to schedule a call, take them out for lunch or assist at an upcoming wedding.
Building a relationship – When it comes to networking tips, this is perhaps the most important one. Because, when you are trying to build your wedding vendor network, it requires relationships that are built on trust. Be consistent in your communication with others and send updates, see how they are doing, share resources, and ask how you can support them on a regular basis.
Making an ask – Once you have built trust (and a real relationship with someone), you can think about making an ask—this is why you are investing effort into building a strong and diverse network after all. Just be sure to make it clear why the collaboration or request benefits them as well.
Ways to build a diverse wedding vendor network
There are lots of ways to connect with other pros, and networking in the wedding industry isn’t limited to formal networking events. Whether you find ones to attend or decide to host your own, here are some of our favorite ways to meet other people and build a diverse network at the same time:
- Collaborate on events or styled shoots so you can learn each other’s approach and style
- Attend conferences and networking events in order to meet lots of people in one go
- Create a space to share ideas and resources. Mastermind groups are a great example
- Host FAM trips to bring other pros to your venue and let them experience it while connecting
- Regularly update your vendor lists to make sure you are connecting with and supporting as many people as possible
Ready and excited to network and diversify your own network? Join us at COR on November 2-3 in NYC!
Photo Credit: Banga Studios