I know you’re guilty.  I’ve seen you (or someone like you) committing these networking sins at every wedding professional mixer, wedding show and industry event.

Don’t believe me?  Take heed of these common mistakes that can ruin your networking opportunities and cost you big time in lost referrals.

Mistake #1 – Hanging out with your friends all night.

I get it.  It’s fun to chat and yuck it up with your buddies in the wedding biz at a networking event, but you’re missing out on opportunities to build new relationships.

I’m not saying you should ignore them (although that might not be such a bad idea if they lead you down a road paved by too many margaritas and bad karaoke) but stretch your comfort zone and talk to someone new.

Make it a goal to come home with three new connections and your referral network will grow.

Mistake #2 – Talking about yourself.

What happens at a party when you get nervous?  You probably babble like a fool.  This is a bad idea at a networking event.

Just like at your sales meetings, you should be listening 75% of the time and talking 25% of the time.

Use your talking time to ask great questions so you can learn how to help the people you connect with.  This is the key to building lasting relationships.

Mistake #3 – Going without a plan.

Very few wedding pros absolutely love networking.  Most of us (myself included) have to psych ourselves up for the crowd.  I need to turn my Stephanie up to 10 to make it through unscathed.

Having a specific plan of action increases your networking results.

What do I mean by a plan?

  • Have a goal for how many new people you’re going to meet.
  • Identify specific wedding professionals who are working with your ideal clients beforehand.  Learn about them and come prepared to engage them in conversation.
  • Practice good questions and conversation starters until they’re natural.

Outlining a simple plan for your next networking event will reap dividends.

Mistake #4 – Handing a stack of business cards to someone you just met.

ARGH!  This one drives me nuts.

I’ve just met you, we shake hands and the first words out of your mouth are, “If you know anyone who’s getting married please refer me.”  Then you shove a stack of cards into my hands.

I’m too polite to tell you than I’m going to dump them in the trash when I get home.

Asking for a referral when I know nothing about you is like proposing marriage on the first date.  I mean, we just met!  My reputation is on the line with every referral, and I just don’t know you well enough yet.

Sure, hand me a card.  A single card.  If I want more, I’ll ask for it.

Mistake #5 – Spending all your time with the free booze and grub.

Food and drink is a perk of networking events, but don’t forget the real reason you’re there: to build your wedding business.

Eat when others are eating.  Don’t stuff your face and try to talk at the same time.  And for Pete’s sake, don’t get drunk!

Mistake #6 – Giving a boring answer to the question, “So what do you do?”

What do YOU say when someone asks you this question?

If you say, “I’m a wedding planner/photographer/DJ/travel agent/balloon artist” you are blowing it!

There’s nothing technically wrong with this answer…except that it’s completely boring and forgettable.

Don’t be lazy.  Don’t be vanilla.  Think up a bold, creative response that people will remember.  Practice your delivery and be ready to wow ‘em.

Mistake #7 – Not following up after the event.

So you do a great job of networking.  You connect with five of the most successful pros in town, with promises to meet for one-on-one lunches at a later date.  Good on ya!

But then you never call.  You never text.  You drop off the face of the planet.

I don’t care if you get busy.  When a girl gives you the time of day, you better call her back, buddy.

Follow up with those networking connections to nurture lasting referral relationships.

Networking Works When You Work It Right

Connecting with other wedding pros is the fastest way to getting red hot leads.  Don’t blow it by being a networking deadbeat.

What’s your pet peeve about networking?