So, you want to be a thought leader?
As a wedding pro, it’s important to build a brand that showcases your expertise. Because when your brand has a great reputation, it’s much easier for you to earn the trust of couples looking to hire you. But just as your brand grows over time, so can your goals. And if that new goal is to build your personal brand in new ways, establish yourself as a thought leader or earn the reputation as a wedding industry expert, we’re here to share some foundational steps you can take to get there. Read on for where to start and thoughts from a few of our WeddingPro Educators who have been exactly where you are right now.
How to build a personal brand and become a thought leader
Building a personal brand as a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. It actually takes quite a bit of time because you have to first become an expert before helping others do the same as a coach/mentor or becoming someone who gets asked to speak at conferences and contribute quotes to publications. So, after you have earned your stripes (so to speak) and honed in on an area of expertise, here are some important things to do as you work to become a thought leader.
- Ask yourself, “Why do I want to become a wedding industry expert?” Is it because you want to help other wedding pros? Are you thinking about adding new products and services to your offerings? Take some time to think about this because your motivation and calling are important
- Document your goals and write a mission statement. These will act as your north star that you can keep coming back to whenever you need
- Continually invest in your own education because industries, best practices, trends and tools all change over time—and it is imperative that you keep on top of it all
- Start to build your reputation on the marketing channels you own first (your blog and social media posts), get yourself set up on an email marketing platform and then think about where you can add value via other people and brands, like being a guest on blogs, podcasts, webinars and lives.
Once you’ve built your base as well as set your goals and intention, here are a few more tips to help you grow your reputation as a wedding industry expert.
- Be strategic about expanding your network. You’ll want to connect with people who have courses or communities if your goal is to help educate others, editors at magazines and blogs if you want to build a more national brand as well as PR professionals and conference organizers if you want to get on the speaking circuit
- Consider taking a public speaking course or brushing up on your writing skills if you are looking to build your personal brand through speaking engagements, guest blogging, etc.
- Have a professional headshot taken so you have that to share when it’s requested and write a bio to go along with it
- Understand what goes into pitching yourself or a topic. Here is a step-by-step guide to help!
Advice on becoming a wedding industry expert from our Educators
Find a mentor who nurtures your passion
“My first piece of advice would be to be genuinely authentic and interested in what you want to educate your peers on. If your brand and what you do are things that you genuinely love, it’s much easier to be authentic and get excited to share that knowledge with others. Authentic and interested is about being available for conversations with industry newbies, doing your homework, constantly learning, and being passionate about your industry and its growth.
My second piece of advice is to find a mentor who is already in the space you are trying to move into. A mentor won’t just give you name recognition with conference hosts—they will help you ensure that the information you are wanting to share has (1) takeaway value, (2) cohesion, (3) measurable learning objectives and (4) you do it in an engaging way.” – Brian Green of By Brian Green
Earn client trust by being your authentic self
“If you think getting couples to trust you with their special day is no easy feat, imagine getting a wedding pro to trust you with their livelihood! Both are huge honors and personal choices. As it is with wedding clients, your pro audience must be able to connect with you—this means presenting yourself as authentically as possible at every interaction. Whether it is your quirky style, conversational manner or niche experience, showcase yourself in a way that puts you in a position where people want to learn from you. Get to know yourself as well—find a detailed topic that you can be an absolute rockstar at, then show up and show off!” – Terrica of Cocktails & Details
Consider diversifying your press portfolio
“Start building a press portfolio dedicated to better serving your personal brand. You may have weddings that have been published (and that’s great!) but diversify to opportunities that help you showcase your expertise and thought leadership strengths. A great place to start is Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a free resource that delivers general media opportunities straight into your inbox from writers around the world. Consider dedicating time to pitching yourself as a guest to podcasts, in and out of the industry.” – Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting
Find more business opportunities through self-advocacy
“Once someone has decided that they want to level up their positioning in the industry by becoming an educator or a speaker, the first step is to tell people that’s what they are doing and that’s what they want. People won’t be able to help you out with opportunities unless they know what you want and how they can best support you. When I made this same decision in 2017, anyone in the industry I spoke to, I would tell them that I wanted to do more speaking engagements. Slowly but surely, opportunities for webinars and podcasts started trickling in and as I gained experience and credibility, I was able to leverage that to in-person speaking gigs at regional events and eventually national conferences.” – Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events
As you work to build a strong personal brand and establish yourself as a thought leader, make sure it works with your business’ branding! Here are tips to help with brand consistency across all your marketing channels.
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