Establishing and building relationships is crucial when you are a small business owner.
I mentioned here before that I regularly schedule time to meet with my peers in the wedding industry. I do this not to try and persuade them to refer me to their clients, but so that I can begin to build a relationship rooted in respect.
I approach these meetings just as I would approach a consultation with a potential client. I make sure to dress in my nicest clothes, I smile, I tell jokes and I try to allow them insight into my personality and character. Surprisingly, just as I do in my potential clients meetings, I do not try to sell my business. I know, that seems odd but I handle interactions this way for a reason.
I am my business. I pour every ounce of my personality, values, hopes and dreams into Lauren O Events. In every meeting that I have with my peers I trust that just being myself is enough. For me building and establishing a rapport is more beneficial than soliciting leads from them.
Unfortunately, the perception of the “get to know you” meeting is not always a good one. So many times I’ve reached out to vendors only to be met with hesitation or in some cases silence. That is why I decided to list a few do’s and dont’s when building relationships with vendors.
Do – Bring a small gift. For early meetings I like to stop at my favorite Mom and Pop bakery in New Britain and bring my hosts fresh baked donuts. If we are meeting in the evening I usually bring a bottle of my favorite wine or sangria.
Hint: Check out their Instragram to see what they like. You don’t want to show up with a bottle of wine if your vendor friend is not a drinker.
Don’t – Show up with multiple copies of your client collateral. I usually bring a few extra business cards to meetings but I never bring a stack of my client collateral to hand out. If at the end of the meeting they offer me their card, I hand them a few of mine. I do this because I do not want there to be any pressure or expectation that they will take my materials and hand them out to clients.
Do – Check them out a bit before you go meet with them. I like to skim through their Instagram or Facebook page to learn a little about their business. Showing up with at least a basic familiarity of them and their business shows that you are interested in learning about THEM and you’re not just there to push your business on them.
Don’t – Show up and start asking questions about their business model, marketing strategies, client experience or other secrets of their business. This is probably the biggest don’t of all them all. Wisdom comes from years of experience, training and practice. If you are interested in learning how they became a success or what has or has not worked for them, say that in your email and be prepared to PAY for the information.
Are you a fan of the vendor meet? Have any positive or negative experiences? Share them!
Until next time, happy planning.