Have you ever felt lonely in your business, as if you were going through it alone? While it’s common for entrepreneurs to feel this way, it’s not how it has to be—especially in an industry built upon collaboration. We produce events to help our clients embrace their community, so why wouldn’t we prioritize community in our own lives?
You might be thinking that you’re not ready to build a team to back you up. You might even feel like other industry professionals represent competition rather than a support network. But, these mindsets will only hold you back. Imagine how great it would feel to hear your peers serve as brand ambassadors and sing your praises rather than being the only one promoting your business day after day!
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Fortunately, your network is filled with people who are ready to tout your good name—and they don’t even need to be in the special events industry. All you need to know is where to look for these mysterious brand enthusiasts and, believe it or not, you do not have to go very far. Go ahead and try starting at one of these places.
Your go-to businesses
You are not just a business owner; you are a customer, too. We all have our favorite businesses that we’ve established relationships with, from your local coffee shop to the hair salon you’ve visited for a decade. Think about it: You are likely to refer business to them, so why not propose a partnership? Leverage these relationships by offering to send new customers and see how you can gain some exposure. Perhaps you can put your business cards out at your favorite boutique or host a workshop at your go-to floral shop. Most of these companies serve the general public, so you never know who may walk in and mention their upcoming wedding or event!
Businesses that share your ideal client
This is where you start treading back into the waters of the event industry, but don’t worry—you don’t have to work with your biggest competitor! Instead, look to event professionals that have vastly different specialties than you but target the same type of client. For example, if you specialize in boho-style photography, look out for designers that have portfolios filled with light and airy details. If you operate a luxe venue, connect with the planners and photographers that showcase corporate galas and black-tie weddings. When you match aesthetics with another brand, it’s a good sign you share a target audience—and that’s when the referral magic happens.
Businesses with complementary products or services
You can hone in even more by identifying complementary brands that would benefit from a partnership with your business. These may or may exist in the events industry, and you may even find that outside brands will appreciate your help introducing them to a new market. A photographer and a hairstylist may find a profitable partnership, or perhaps a venue connects with a masseuse for onsite services to enhance the client experience. Since there is never any competition involved, this type of partnership can be extremely beneficial for both parties.
It’s important to note that none of these avenues will turn into a community of brand ambassadors overnight. Building relationships takes time and effort, so don’t start introducing yourself around with the assumption that others will start promoting your brand. Commit to nurturing your connections through social media, emails, video chats, and in-person meetings (only when it is safe!) to establish a foundation for your partnership to thrive.
Turning to other businesses for support isn’t just good for your brand—it’s also good for you. In many cases, professional relationships become personal friendships and can make the entrepreneurship journey much less lonely. It helps to have like-minded individuals (that are not competitors!) to bounce ideas off, commiserate about challenges, and celebrate big wins together.
A successful event relies on teamwork and community; it’s time to take that to heart and start looking for encouragement outside of your business instead of only looking in it. Once you do, you will find that you’ve had a network of brand ambassadors all along—you just needed to tap into it and give back as much as you receive.