The pandemic has affected a lot in the wedding industry over the last few months. One of the most fundamental impacts is how wedding professionals network. Expos to trunk shows and every kind of collaboration in between,may have been canceled, but we’ve got helpful insights for you on how COVID-19 changed the way people network — and what you can learn from it to grow your business.
HOW COVID-19 CHANGED THE WAY PEOPLE NETWORK
Before COVID-19, annual conferences and micro-events as well as professional networking tribes within the wedding industry were seeing an increase in popularity. Unfortunately, with the need to stay separate for the health of our communities, that was shut down very quickly.
- In-person events were canceled or put on pause around the country — and world.
- Social distancing and related protocols keep events to a minimum number of people even as states begin to open back up.
- Wearing masks and sanitation requirements means those same opportunities to be in a shared space with potential customers and industry peers aren’t as available.
- Even as places and events begin to open up, there’s an expectation that at any moment we may need to do the whole process again. It’s in the back of people’s minds, which means all those types of events may be on hold indefinitely.
The good news is that networking, whether that’s with clients or wedding industry professionals, will never go away completely because it’s ultimately about building relationships, and that is needed now more than ever.
NOT EVERYTHING ABOUT NETWORKING CHANGED
While in-person networking may not be possible at the moment, with all this isolating at home, the need for authentic relationships is only increasing. Fortunately, there are many tools to help you make networking genuine, enjoyable, and profitable for your business.
There are a few things about networking that haven’t changed — and never will.
- The desire for genuine connection with others.
- The need to build mutually beneficial, collaborative relationships in the industry.
- The need for the product and service you provide.
The ability to make those connections and build those relationships hasn’t changed either. What has changed is the channel and the format, but the heart of networking is still the same.
Plus, there’s no better time than now to reevaluate your networking strategy.
HOW TO NETWORK POST-COVID-19
Now is the time to make the most of people’s willingness to reach out and connect with others — especially online. There’s a genuine desire to collaborate with, celebrate with, and do good work with people in communities across the country.
In fact, that’s what Wed Society is all about. As a resource for wedding professionals by wedding professionals, our mission is to connect, educate, and inspire wedding vendor communities.
In a season when face-to-face events were closing, we created virtual opportunities for this vendor community to connect. Check out our upcoming events here.
Every personality is different in the way they like to network, but whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, here’s a list of ways to network post-COVID-19.
TIPS FOR NETWORKING
- Get used to doing things online.
For the foreseeable future, a lot of your networking is going to need to be virtual. It’s important to get comfortable with and get good at using online tools. From Zoom calls to Facebook Rooms, LinkedIn, and more, lean into all the technology available.
- Check in with people.
We’ve gone beyond sharing our business card and now we’ve got a shared experience to connect us all. Reach out to both your clients and peers that you know — and those you haven’t heard from in a while. Ask how they are.
- Watch how your communities are building each other up and engage with them.
Professional organizations or local vendor social groups that you are apart of are likely already making a space online to help each other. Be an active participant in helping people build others up.
- Take your existing networking online.
Be purposeful about connecting with your current network of clients and or wedding industry peers online. That may be starting your own Facebook Room or private group. Perhaps it’s simply connecting with them on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. You know what works best for you, but don’t miss out on this opportunity to develop your online network.
- Be active on LinkedIn
We’ve talked about leaning into technology, but LinkedIn deserves its own spot on the list. This is especially important when it comes to making connections in your industry.
Make sure your profile is up-to-date. Build your contacts by first reaching out to those people you already know and then begin to reach out to individuals whose work you admire. This isn’t about amassing a large number of random connections. This is about building relationships and building a network. Add value to the space by thoughtfully engaging with the content there as well as creating your own. In addition to all that, don’t overlook giving meaningful recommendations when it comes to endorsing the skills of others and always include a personal note when reaching out to a new connection.
What has been the biggest change in your networking experience? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Corrie McGee
Photo by Penelope L’Amore Photography