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Meghan Ely Photo by Aaron Watson Photography

How to Find Your Industry Tribe … and Why You Should Do It

Finding like-minded people in special events isn't just about knowing who will agree with you--it's about building strong, effective business relationships.

They will tell you in school how different the real world is. But when it comes down to it, we all just want to fit in and find our tribe of people that get us.

In the event industry, having a strong network can be the key to taking your business to the next level. Whether it’s referrals, business advice, moral support or creative help, your tribe is made up of people who are going to be there for you through the highs and lows of being a business owner in your community. 

So, how do you find them? Let’s take a look below:

1.                Find those who are like-minded.
Over time, you will find that there are certain vendors and fellow event professionals who seem to work and approach events in the same way that you do. Whether it’s their communication style, organization systems or taste in aesthetics, identifying like-minded people can be an easy way to quickly strike up a conversation and get to know them.

“When working with people who have similar work ethic and passion as you, there is a natural bond that happens. It's nurturing those relationships and making time for those people that encourages the relationship to become more over time,” explains Emily Sullivan of New Orleans-based Emily Sullivan Events.

2.                Stick to your networking.
Networking is not everyone’s idea of a good time. In fact, it can be downright nerve-racking for some people. However, if you can find the right event, there is almost no better way to meet people in your industry, and the good news is that many of them feel exactly the way you do about being there. 

Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Services of Livermore, Calif., and WeddingIQ shares some of the ways he was able to meet people at events and turn them into real relationships.

“If there were people I was consistently seeing out and about, I would make it my mission to get to know them,” Dennis says. “I tried to connect with them on a personal level before connecting on a business level. I focused on building trust and being genuine, and my tribe fell into place. They were my friends first, and then we connected as colleagues and industry professionals.”

3.                Be nice.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Work hard and be nice to people?” If not, write it down and post it on your office wall. 

Treating fellow vendors and entrepreneurs with the same respect and kindness you show clients should be at the foundation of your business. Your reputation is everything in the events industry, and word will get out quickly if you’re seen as someone that is easy to work with and a pleasure to be around.

“I have seen many people treat vendors like ‘the help,’ while treating their clients like they walk on water,” says Kim Sayatovic of Belladeux Event Design, New Orleans. “Clients are very important, but in most cases, they are a one-off encounter while fellow vendors are there for life.”

Additionally, having a good reputation among vendors is an easy way to get referrals.

“You will find that the better you treat your vendors the more they will refer business to you and the more you will refer business to them,” Sayatovic notes. “Succeeding in your industry isn’t always about who is making the most money, or who is working with the highest profile clients, but it is knowing that people trust you.”

With these insider tips in your back pocket, you will have no problem finding a group of people that you feel comfortable with and know are there to help you grow as a business and as a person!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. She is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

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