Competition exists in every industry, but it seems especially harsh in an industry that is supposed to be built on community and hospitality. Too often, event professionals operate on the pretenses that everyone is against them—and, therefore, they must be against everyone else.
Unfortunately, this mindset isn’t just harmful to one’s feelings. It’s also damaging to their businesses. After all, industry referrals that come from within your network are more likely to be pre-qualified and have a higher chance of converting into paying clients.
So, what’s the deal? Why all the vitriol?
It’s time to turn the tired notion of cutthroat competition on its head and start seeing our “competitors” as our greatest colleagues in business.
Here’s how that serves you and the greater good:
You are one-of-a-kind—and so is everyone else.
While you might think someone is out to take your business, the reality is that everyone has a unique set of lived experiences and knowledge that sets you apart from the crowd. If you’re a planner, you can serve clients that another doesn’t want to or cannot—and vice versa.
Say you focus on minimalist, intimate weddings. If a client comes to you with a never-ending guest list and a Pinterest board filled with grand décor ideas, they aren’t a fit for you! However, they may be the perfect fit for another planner in your network. When you focus on collaboration, you can build an honest, trustworthy, and reciprocal referral network that is invaluable for all parties.
It removes pricing from the equation.
Event professionals who isolate themselves from the rest of the industry have a tendency to focus on pricing. They wonder how their prices measure up to other quotes their clients are seeing. Are they charging too much? Not enough? This mindset leads to a constant insecurity about their worth and whether they are approachable in the market.
On the other hand, “competitors” can come together and discuss pricing to remove it from the equation altogether. When a prospect receives several quotes with the same price point, you know that they’re selecting based solely on personality, aesthetic, and vibe. They are choosing the best option for their needs and, ultimately, that's best for everyone as it leaves the door open for the others to book a better fit.
You get to establish lifelong friendships.
On those days when everything seems to go wrong, you will have your network to fall back on. When you get a big win, you will have your network to cheer you on! There’s something special about having friends that share your experiences and understand exactly what you’re going through on a regular basis.
Yes, you have your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your friends outside the industry—but they don’t really get it. They may be empathetic, but they don’t know the heartbreak of finding out a wedding couple has broken up or the joy that comes with a glowing testimonial. Feeling solidarity with your industry peers is unmatched.
If you’re interested in building your own community, here are a few steps to begin:
Start by nurturing your relationships.
Relationships are the building blocks of a flourishing community and, if your area doesn’t have any networking opportunities that are a fit, it has to start with you. Reach out to other industry pros on Facebook Messenger and get the conversation going. It’s much less formal than an email, so it allows people to feel more comfortable and at ease.
Then, get to know them! Learn who they are, where they came from, and why they’re in business. I’ve found that the “why” is one of the most important things you can learn about a person. Knowing what drew someone to the industry (and why they’ve stayed!) can tell you a lot about who they are inside.
Ethics is also an important consideration. I want to surround myself with people who lift me up, so I like to know where someone stands socially and whether their values align with mine. However, don’t be so quick to disconnect from people with different experiences as they can bring new perspectives to the way you see business and life.
Keep growing your network.
Starting small with a Facebook chat or even a Facebook group is great, but it needs to go beyond that if you want to see value come from your network. Eventually, turn those conversations into Zoom meetings or coffee dates if everyone is comfortable meeting in-person.
Use those touchpoints to cultivate the relationships by getting real with one another. Talk about the struggles you face, but talk about the success as well! It might sting the first time you hear someone booked a client you really wanted, but you need to work through that fear-based scarcity mindset.
We exist in a world where success is possible for everyone. Where’s the fun in hoarding all the wins? Celebrate each other’s wins and commiserate with each other’s losses—together, you can all find your own version of success without taking away from the rest.
Community over competition isn’t just an inspirational saying, it’s a way of doing business. Competition will always exist, but the power of community will always be greater than the challenge of competition.