Networking with Heart

The world is going through some big changes right now, and our lives have been put on hold for the most part. It’s the perfect time to do you – read that book that has been sitting on the shelf, unopened, for years, manifest your dreams + goals, call an old friend, and learn something new that can help you and your business thrive.

Here at Wedding Collective, we are all about learning from our wedding community, and we hope to do the same for all of you! In fact, our own founder/CEO, Shauna Pointer, recently shared some of her wisdom, alongside Amy Weir with Delineate Your Dwelling, at the community at the amazing “Love Your Community” event at the Hyatt Regency ABQ on February 7th, 2020. The event was created on behalf of a road trip with Natalie Franke with Rising Tide Society and hosted by our local lovelies: Kayla Kitts Photography and Julie Haider Photography. In case you missed it, we’re here to share her wise words about networking + fostering genuine connections.

Let’s start by imagining…

“Imagine the first time you were putting yourself and business out there at an event that involved people (real people in the flesh).
Were you nervous, anxious, excited? Did you try on like 5 different outfits, rehearse your so-called 30 second elevator pitch that so many hardcore networkers encourage? Did you feel you like didn’t belong? Weren’t good enough? Intimated by the thought of not knowing anyone in the room? Remember how you wanted to make a good impression and connection? We are in a small business community of working with real people. And networking with heart is about the people behind their passion and their purpose.”

Shauna Pointer, Founder/CEO of Wedding Collective NM

Many of you will have experienced these emotions and thoughts, and you’re not alone! It’s important to remember that we are all human, and our mental processes are very similar. Shauna explains that even if you are a veteran business owner, it’s never too early or too soon to put yourself out there in a networking setting.

She also emphasizes the importance of creating a “tribe” comprised of your fellow community members. These are the people who are always showing up for you, supporting you, and rooting for your success + happiness. This is key, because without each other, we have nothing. By encouraging support for each other, all things are possible for even the smallest of businesses – and hey, that might be you!

“I want to encourage you to seek out others that need shepherding, encouragement, and pull them into your tribe and genuinely connect them with other like-minded creatives. Networking is about real connections and getting to know the people behind the passion.”

Shauna Pointer, Founder/CEO of Wedding Collective NM

We love our vendors + our couples, which is why we are focused on cultivating relationships with creative crews and bride tribes. However, it is important to keep in mind that a genuine and lasting relationship with anyone doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time and authenticity. Here are Shauna’s “tactical tips” to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t shove a business card at someone that you’ve just met for the first time. Take genuine interest in their passion and services over yours.
  2. Be a Go Giver – And GIVE because you love to, not because it’s a strategy. But because it’s a way of life. Givers naturally
    attract others. Give guidance, give advice, give time and energy, and when an opportunity pops up – give good referrals.
  3. Focus on one person at a time – don’t try to “work the crowd”.
  4. Don’t just ask for business referrals, make friendships that turn into referrals.
  5. Seek out others that possibly came by themselves and pull them into your group. Shepherd them into your flock.
  6. Abundantly place other people’s interests over your own.
  7. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Be yourself, not what others expect you to be. Don’t be like me at my first event – trying to act older, dress older, say what others wanted to hear.
  8. Be someone else’s raving fan. Be their cheerleader – online as well as in person.
  9. Allow someone else to make a great connection with you. Think of referrals and others you can introduce them to + and they will be endeared to you when they have an opportunity to reciprocate.

We’re thankful that you are a member of our tribe. During these chaotic times, we all need a little help from our community, so reach out, support, and show up for the people around you. Nothing gets us through hard times more effectively than working together… from a distance, that is! #SocialDistancing

What Local Engaged Couples Have to Say About Planning a Wedding in New Mexico

So, if we’re being honest with ourselves, most people in New Mexico know Perfect Wedding Guide for our wedding shows. Which makes sense, considering how many hundreds of engaged couples and local wedding professionals come together to make shows like the Diamond Dash, Bride’s Night Out, and the Wedding Gallery possible. We’re not really complaining, promise, but we actually have a lot of love and appreciation from some of our smaller events, like the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer!

The 2019 edition of the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer flew past us just this last week. (Of course months of planning, collaborating, and designing goes by in a dizzying but beautiful flash!) All we want to talk about is all the amazing nuggets of knowledge we learned, but wait…

What even is the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer?!

Great question, reader! This particular event was conceptualized to fill the gap between local engaged couples and the wedding professionals who serve them. (Sound familiar?) Essentially, the Bridal Board + Vendor Mixer is oriented like a research or focus group. We invite around 10 engaged or recently married couples from the local community to come share their insights, triumphs, complaints, compliments, woes, worries, and wonders about the wedding planning process in New Mexico. 

Then, with bellies full of a complementary, gourmet dinner, the wedding professionals from all over New Mexico take note, adjust their practices, ask questions, and, hopefully, grow! It’s one of the few opportunities you have in any business-client relationship to truly hear and communicate with one another. It’s how we’re able to keep the eclectic New Mexico wedding market moving and evolving in the right direction.

Ready to learn what the engaged couples who have come before you have to say about the wedding planning process in New Mexico? Let’s jump in with our 3 main takeaways.

wedding professionals speaking focus group bridal engaged couples

1. Inclusivity is Key.

Another word for inclusivity here could be clarity. When we asked the couples, “What is the most important quality you are looking for when hiring a wedding professional?” the conclusion was the same across the board. Couples look for those who exude kindness and personality, and vendors who actually listen to their vision without imposing their own ideas on the couple. 

When we asked the couples what the vendors they choose did to earn their business, what we heard reaffirmed these values. They appreciated (and went on to book) the professionals who didn’t exclusively brag about themselves, whose websites were clear and communicative, and whose work accurately represented the couples they want to work with.

For example, if a wedding professional exclusively promotes straight couples on their website and social media channels, the chances of reaching LGBTQ couples are pretty much nil.

To sum: be clear, be kind, be inclusive, and listen well.

wedding bridal couples engaged professionals new mexico santa fe focus group

2. Stick to Email, Folks.

Yes, the digital world is ever changing, and it’s so tempting to make texting your main form of communication. (You can do it from bed, from the gym, from the couch with Netflix playing in front of you, so we totally get it.)

But, because lots of couples create a specific email address for wedding planning, keeping all communications in one place is best. There’s higher visibility of conversations in email as well, so accountability comes much easier.

Also, hate is a strong word, but our couples felt strongly about this: they hate phone calls. Like, really and truly. Most couples are at work during a business’s hours of operations, or they’re at home with their partners and families.

Remember: stick to email.

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3. Yes, Social Media is Still Important.

Your website should still be the home of your business, but social media is where the vast majority of couples look for wedding inspiration. The two top contenders, which you might be able to guess already, are Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram is a great platform to utilize, according to the local couples, because it’s easy to return to feed posts for references — though they love seeing stories, especially of behind-the-scenes previews for styled shoots and weddings. Pinterest is beneficial for businesses as well because it’s so visually-oriented. Then, there’s always the concept of pinfinity, too!

(Pinfinity = the fact your pins continue to be recirculated by pinners long after you post them, whereas Instagram posts are usually only seen within the first 48 hours of posting.)

Here’s your excuse to log on, friends, and show the world what you’re working with.

floral centerpiece flowers wedding business wedding market new mexico santa fe albuquerque rose

A very special thank you to all the incredible local businesses who made this awesome, collaborative event possible: Embassy Suites, for generously hosting us and feeding all our guests a marvelous meal; De Novo Pastoral Services for being our informed and entertaining emcee; Beth Waldron Photography for capturing all the fun above; Estella Floral Design for our darling centerpieces; Funky Olive Designs for our pretty little invitations; Cello for Weddings for serenading all our guests with delightful live cello music; and Black Swan Events, for transforming the ballroom into a conducive, inspiring space.

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