As we redefine what “business as usual” looks like in the event industry, this year’s wedding boom is keeping creative professionals’ plates full and focused on serving engaged couples. Needless to say, the first quarter of the year may feel like the “calm before the storm”—even as we’re busy marketing and booking all of the couples who are newly engaged from the holiday season.
Between all of the sales calls, marketing campaigns, and planning meetings, this quarter is also a vital time to revisit your network. Cultivating industry relationships will open you up to more referrals, collaborations, and other opportunities that can move the needle for your business.
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While you may not have the time to dedicate to multiple networking events each week, you can still invest in your existing relationships to remain top-of-mind and provide meaningful support to industry peers.
Let go of the pressure of stuffy cold calls and business cards destined for the trash bin. Instead, focus on intentional gestures that demonstrate your empathy, thoughtfulness, and willingness to be a team player with these relationship management strategies.
Surprise them with a smile
Who doesn’t love receiving a surprise delivery on an otherwise-normal day? There’s a reason gifts are a love language—they show the recipient that you’ve been thinking about them! When it comes to surprise and delight in your network, the “why” is more important than the “what.” Don’t get caught up in spending a certain dollar amount or sending a perfectly curated gift.
Instead, consider who you’re surprising and pick a small-but-meaningful token that will make them smile. It could be as simple as a $15 gift card to their favorite coffee shop, a notebook in their brand colors, or a set of templates they’ve had their eye on. It truly is the thought that counts—your recipients will feel appreciated no matter what you send.
Show your support
Many business owners have moments of loneliness, even if they have a thriving network. It helps to know others are looking out for you, even when you haven’t asked for it. So make sure to show up for your industry colleagues! Reach out regularly to check in and see how they’re doing, both in a personal and professional capacity. Then, ask if you can provide support in any way.
When they see your kind intentions to help, they may find it easier to open up to you about what’s on their mind. Perhaps they have a new business idea bouncing around their head and they request feedback after you’ve earned their trust. For all you know, that simple exchange could turn into a powerful partnership opportunity! Be kind to those around you, and you’ll find that you receive the same support in return.
Send qualified business
Referring leads to trusted peers is like sending them a blank check simply because they deserve it. You are effectively telling them, “You’re great at what you do and I’m confident this client will be in great hands with you.” All they have to do is close the sale and you’ve helped them increase their revenue simply by making a recommendation.
However, the keyword here is “qualified.” Sending over leads that are clearly not a fit tells someone you don’t know them or their business well enough. Then, they end up wasting their time and energy on dead-end prospects, so make sure you are confident about the match before making a referral.
Host an industry get-together
If you don’t have time in your schedule to get all dressed up and head off to frequent networking events, consider setting up your own gathering to fit your needs. A short virtual happy hour or lunch break with four or five people offers much more value than skipping networking efforts altogether.
The beauty of hosting your own networking opportunities—whether virtual or in-person—is that you can keep it small and hand-select the people you want to invite. This approach allows for more meaningful conversations, as well as the ability to introduce creative partners that you think will hit it off. If it becomes a regular occurrence, you can switch up the guest list each time to dedicate intentional time across your whole network while potentially playing matchmaker for your industry peers.
Over the next several months, do what you can to pour into your network before the busy season picks up for the year. Now is your chance to position yourself to earn more referrals and opportunities for 2023 and beyond. If you only have half an hour each week, spend it engaging with your network on social media, reaching out to new contacts via email, or sending a sweet gift. Every gesture matters, so make your time count!