This is a short except from my upcoming book Get Connected: Build Relationships to Drive Your Business which launches Wednesday, February 15th.
Getting onto the referral list of a local venue or planner can be great for your business. It means that many of the brides booking weddings with that venue or vendor will see your name on a list of trusted wedding professionals. It increases not only your reach, but also your reputation. Most importantly, it shows a bride that you are trusted to do quality work.
But how do you get on a referral list? It depends. Sometimes the stars align, and you find yourself on a venue's referral list with little to no effort. Mostly, though, it takes some work on your part and a lot of patience to get your company on a referral list.
Many different factors and circumstances go into getting on a list. It doesnt happen over night, but it can and will happen if you work at it.
Build strong relationships with the vendors you work with; impress them with your team-player attitude and gorgeous work that you are willing to freely share with them. Eventually you will find yourself getting added to referral lists. Vendors want to refer other vendors that are a great fit for their clients. If you make that easy for them, it will happen naturally.
Remember to always be professional and polite, but don't be afraid to move on to more fruitful potential partnerships if it appears your efforts are not going anywhere. Also, it might be a year later when a weddings manager finally begins to take notice of you. Never burn bridges, because you don't know how things will play out later, and all industries are small worlds.
Getting on referral lists is a big help to your business, but do not make the mistake of thinking it starts and ends there. Don't think that because you have secured a spot on a list you can rest on your laurels. Continue to prove to the venue why you deserve to be on that list. Take care of their clients, and take care of the venue.
Don't try to get on only one referral list; try to get on several each year. Venues and vendors referring you will come and go. People may love your work and refer you to every bride, but then they move to Las Vegas, and the gravy train halts. Or things are going great, so you slack a bit, and suddenly your referral business has shifted to the hot new photographer in town. Business comes and goes just like that.
I assure you that the great things for our business did not happen because we are “such awesome photographers” (or some other such magic that you don't have). These things happened for us because we work hard, we identify what we want, we make a plan, and we go after it. Some people think we are God's greatest gift to wedding photography, while other people won't return our calls. You'd think you get to a point where you “make it” and all the doors are automatically opened for you and you are invited to all the champagne parties. Nope, not even for us, and not for any well-known photographer you can think of.
You have to always be on your game, and you have to accept that sometimes you win big, but other times you miss a job you desperately wanted. Just remember not to take it personally, and move forward with your plan. It's a process.
Get Connected: Build Relationships to Drive Your Business is now available if you would like to get access to our entire marketing plan for referrals from vendors.