One of your responsibilities as a wedding professional is to attend industry events, meet other vendors, view new venues, experience different caterers food and most importantly, network.
Networking is supposed to be light chit chat to get to know the other person and see if you can work together in a mutually beneficial capacity. It can be difficult to learn how to network and I will admit, I am not good at making small-talk, but it absolutely amazes me that so many people do not know what NOT to do.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had to listen to someone try to convince me just how wonderful and successful they are. At one recent event, every single person I spoke with told me their life story. Eight different people! Not one question about me, no mention of the event or any other semblence of conversation. I have to admit, I resented them monopolizing my time like that.
So to help you make industry friends, not foes, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you network:
DON’T stick to only people you already know. You can always grab a coffee together after the event.
DO introduce yourself to new people. It can be scary to walk up to a stranger, but you already know you are in the same industry, so there is mutual ground. Ask them what they think about a new trend you’ve been seeing lately.
DON’T talk about politics, religion, anything controversial or guaranteed to spur strong opinions. That is what your friends are for.
DO exchange business cards with people you like. You never know when an opportunity to work together may come up.
DON’T monopolize people. If you see someone’s eyes starting to dart around, set them free.
DO taste the food and drink. Shucks darn it, its your job!
DON’T drink too much. You are representing your company in a professional capacity.
DO talk about the event you are at (positively.) Only stick to good things about the event you are at. If you speak negatively, you are giving the impression that you are a negative person.
DON’T gossip or slander. It is a very small world, you never know who knows each other and you are showing the other person that you are not trustworthy. They will conclude that if you can talk about someone else to a stranger, you will talk about them too.
DO have an elevator speech ready. You should be able to tell what you do and how you are special in 30 seconds or less.
DON’T tell your life story. This is not the appropriate time. If you must use a stranger as a sounding board, pay a therapist, it is their job to listen to you.
DO ask about the person you are speaking to. Find out what that person does and what makes their service special.
DON’T brag or assume you are more successful or experienced than the person you are speaking to. Just because the other person is secure enough not to boast or compete, it does not mean they are not successful. “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” ~Lao Tzu
DO attend as many events as you possibly can. You will be a better, more-connected professional for it.