Clients choose event coordinators based on their ability to manage and execute every detail for any type of event--and in order to be a successful event coordinator, it’s important to have vendors and service providers to coordinate!
This is why it is imperative to build and maintain strong relationships with other event industry professionals. Whether your clients need a cost-effective catering company for their corporate event, or a picture-perfect photographer for their wedding day, they lean on you for recommendations and reliable resources.
Finding and maintaining industry partnerships are two sides of the same coin. On one side, you have to know where to look and how to evaluate each resource. On the other, you have to know how to make a partnership worthwhile to you and the vendor. Both of these tasks are required to expand your contact list and establish professional relationships that last.
If you are looking to boost your connections and build your clientele, consider implementing the following tips into your networking strategy:
1. Cast a wide net.
When building professional partnerships, it’s important to approach your search from multiple perspectives. First, it’s always good to have a few big names in your pocket. Look for the go-to vendors and providers in your area, as they will likely be able to offer you a variety of services for a single event. Their well-known reputation will also be attractive to your clients and other service providers.
Once you’ve locked in a few reliable full-service vendors, expand your search beyond general needs. Instead of a bakery, search for local bakers who specialize in cupcakes or caterers that are known for their vegan options. Instead of tech companies, search for a specialist in atmospheric lighting or VR event technology. Chances are, they will have a wide selection of products or services to choose from in their niche, making them a relevant resource for your clients seeking contacts within that specialty.
2. Give and take.
Professional relationships are only as valuable as their mutual benefit. If you want to make connections that last, consider offering a discounted rate on your services to their clients or offering a bit of pro bono work. This lets vendors know that you’re invested, and not just seeking a one-sided partnership.
All event companies and entrepreneurs are looking for business, and in order to lock in that referral, you have to make sure the vendor values you and your company over the rest by driving traffic to their business. It’s easy to get lost in the noise, but generous investments almost always lead to returned favors and long-term industry relationships.
There are a number of ways to drive traffic to some else’s business while endorsing your own. Cross-promotion is one of the most beneficial online tools that event professionals can take advantage of. Sharing information about your partners on social media can be as simple as tagging them in your post or mentioning them in a comment. Referring people online is easy and paves the way for shared audiences and a wider reach.
If your audience sees that you support other local businesses and that you have a number of resources to pull from, they’re more likely to consult you for their next event. Cross-promotion can also lead other vendors to your platforms, expanding your partnership pool even further!
4. Make time for relationships.
Like any relationship, professional partnerships require deliberate, ongoing care. The more you invest personally in the connections you make, the more likely they will be willing and excited to work with you. While the set-up process is often the busiest part of any event planner’s job, try to take time to meet each vendor, introduce yourself, and ask for their business card. If you attend conferences or trade shows, have your contact information on hand so you can build your network--and then be sure to follow up.
As you build stronger personal relationships with others in your industry, you begin to develop exclusive partnerships with professionals who want to come alongside you and events happen. Additionally, the more you invest into your connections, the more confidence you will have when referring your clients to vendors. If you know your industry partners well, you will know exactly where to point clients for success.
Event coordinators serve as a liaison between clients and vendors, so it’s crucial to find and maintain valuable industry relationships. It’s all about who you know, right? Be sure to know as many people as you can, and your client base will grow and your event business will thrive.
Billy Hicks is the president and CEO at Event Rentals by Hicks, a full-service event planning and rental provider in Memphis, Tenn., serving the Mid-South for more than 30 years.