The excitement of getting your very first client is an amazing feeling. After all that's the whole reason you started this whole wedding planning gig, right?
Just as important, though, is developing relationships with your local professional wedding vendors.
So while you're waiting for your first bride to walk through the door, chart your course of action to develop an amazing list of professionals who will be integral in helping you create the weddings your clients want.
1. Get out there!
Introducing yourself to wedding vendors is critical since these are the folks who will become an endless source of referrals for you. Get out there and meet everyone, with an emphasis on everyone!
Think beyond your typical caterers, florists and photographers. Travel Agents, make-up artists, massage therapists, ballroom dance instructors…you never know where that next referral is coming from.
2. Introduce yourself to other wedding planners
Instead of thinking of your fellow wedding planners as ‘the competition', think of them as an endless source of referrals for your wedding planning business. Yes, referrals!
Imagine that you and I are both wedding planners in the same town. A bride comes to me needing help with just day-of wedding services. The thing is that I recently made the decision to work on full-service weddings only. Rather than turn her away, I call you and ask if you're interested and available to help her.
Or perhaps a bride requests your professional wedding planning services but you're already booked on her wedding day. Imagine how grateful your bride would be if you're able to recommend her to me, another fab wedding consultant.
You get the idea?
Unless (or until) you have an entourage of wedding planners working for you, it's unlikely that you can handle all of the wedding planning business in your town. Get to know the other ‘professional' wedding planners out there…you'll be so glad that you did.
3. Make a list of potential vendors
Your next step is to make a list of the specific vendors you'd like to meet. A good place to start is the local vendor listing on The Knot. Don't contact anyone just yet. At this stage you're just creating a list. Look at vendor websites, read bride testimonials and you'll soon get a feel of whom you'd like to know better.
Local bridal shows are another source for wedding vendors. Typically the show organizers print a program and list wedding vendor names on the bridal show website.
4. Schedule wedding vendor appointmentsSet a goal to meet a certain number of wedding professionals each week. Call each vendor and arrange a 15-minute appointment to introduce yourself. Taking the time to make the call shows them that you're a professional.
Don't just ‘drop in' unannounced!
I've found that most vendors get busier as the week progresses, so you may want to arrange for your appointment to happen earlier in the week. Of course, that may not always be the case. Each vendor you contact will let you know what time works best for them.
5. Research each vendor
Once you have secured an appointment with a wedding vendor, familiarize yourself with their company before your meeting. Check out the company website, their blog, Google them, read brochures, etc.
Although the point of the meeting is to find out as much as you can about the vendor's line of business, think about how you will answer any questions s/he may have about your wedding planning business. Be prepared to answer questions succinctly and with confidence. Nobody wants to hear you ramble on about yourself (except you, perhaps).
6. WIIFM:”What's In It For Me? (the vendor, that is!)
Yep, that's right; think carefully about what you can do for each and every wedding vendor you meet. Do you have a shared interest? Or someone that they would be interested in working with?
When you go out of your way for another vendor (or any person for that matter), you increase the likelihood of that person doing the same for you.
7. Ace the vendor meeting
For your face-to-face vendor meeting, dress as you would for a client meeting. No rumples, or wrinkles (on your clothing that is :)) Remember the adage ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression'. You are representing your business.
Bring extra business cards just in case your vendor asks to keep a few on hand to share with his/her clients.
Center your energy and attention on the vendor. Turn off your cell phone ! Even if s/he doesn't extend the same courtesy to you–so don't get flustered if phone calls, clients or staff questions interrupt the flow of your meeting.
- Some wedding vendors may not be helpful or welcoming. Don't take it personally–that's probably the way they treat everyone!
- Most vendors are friendly and generous with their time.
- Most vendors are eager to meet with you.
- Wedding professionals form a close-knit community, ideally all of them will get to know you.
- Vendors will become an endless source of referrals for you.