Achieving success is not for the faint of heart. There is no magic formula to obtaining wealth and recognition. No "passive income" that suddenly appears in your bank account once a week. Success takes work. Real work. If you're in the wedding and events industry, the most successful pros in your community know this well, and that part of this work is breaking through the industry clique barriers with confidence. Wallflowers don't light up the dance floor so let's explore how to up your game and put the spotlight on your events pro moves!
First Impressions Last
The importance of your first impression shouldn't be breaking news to you. It's the first chance you have to tell someone - through your words or your work - who you are, what you do and how you do it. One of the most practical yet oft-overlooked tools for this opportunity is the age-old business card. These little pieces of paper stock, wood or metal convey your most critical information. A well designed card can also tell your brand story and display your attention to detail. You won’t use nearly as many as you think (it is the digital era, after all) so pull back on quantity and upgrade in quality! Don't be afraid to think outside of the box - make them creative and luxurious. The pride in your work will show through not only in the card but in your confidence when you hand it over.
Dress for Success
"Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." This is especially true in our industry. If you want to be judged quickly at an industry event, show up with tipped-up heels and scuffed up, unpolished shoes. In a profession where our job is to design and deliver the "pretty", it's practically impossible to overdress. On the contrary, it's extremely easy to tank your brand and your business showing up entirely too casual or unkempt. An elevated wardrobe doesn't have to empty your wallet. You can find key pieces inexpensively at discount or big box retailers that can be equally dressed up or down with more unique finds that fit your style. And, if you need some expert assistance, most major cities have nonprofit organizations to help business people dress for success.
"Hi, My Name Is ____"
You might not be able to remember how you and your besties met. There's no doubt, however, the ice had to be broken first before you became BFFs. It's the case for all personal and professional relationships. In this industry, you'll be meeting everyone from new clients to venue managers, decor reps to day-of coordinators. Put some effort and investment into building your confidence to engage with different personalities. Take a public speaking class at your local community college. Or, join an improvisational comedy or theater meetup. Script a 30-second update or a hot tip and go live on Facebook. Any of these will help improve your confidence in introducing yourself. They'll help just as well in pitching your business to potential vendor partners or in positioning yourself as an expert in your field for a potential industry speaking engagement.
Get Two Mentors
Two heads really are better than one, especially when it comes to the value of mentoring. This might seem counterproductive but having different perspectives can help you target yours with much more efficacy. First, find a local mentor, someone who's not in your specific field. Look for someone who's been in the industry for some time and whose work you respect. Work with this person to make introductions to those in your local market you need to know. These individuals can not only help open doors for you, they can give you the inside skinny on local industry politics and how to navigate them successfully.
Your second mentor should be someone in your particular field, in a different market, and with a little more experience than you. This peer mentor can talk through more specific issues and ideas you have that you might not be able to or feel comfortable in talking about with those in your immediate market who, in some respects, represent your competition.
Breaking bread is one of the easiest and most effective ways to break down walls and break ground on professional relationships. Consider inviting a small group of pros to lunch. Nothing big or fancy, just a great opportunity to chat, learn about each other and take in a casual meal. Focus your invitations on those fellow pros you want to get to know. Mix the invite list up to make sure there's balance in business segments represented as well as in preexisting relationships. You'll meet some great people, build your confidence and brand yourself as someone to know.
You know as well as anyone that it takes work to achieve success. To be more specific, it takes work on your business and in your business to reach that success. Taking the steps to establish and foster your professional relationships are crucial parts of that work. So, peel yourself off the wall and get your professional relationships groove on with confidence!
Hero photo courtesy Amira Gray Photography