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Starting a Networking Group – Part 1 of 3

Thursday Therapy ::: Images: Lynn Michelle Photography

I’m super excited to share a few tips I’ve learned over the years about how to start a networking group (and keep it alive)!  For the next 3 days we’ll be talking about the 3 biggest things you need to do to start a group:

  • “hit the pavement” and get yourself in front of wedding pros
  • how to physically launch a networking group
  • and, how to nurture that group so that it thrives!

Also, I’ll be talking quite a bit about the networking group I recently started in Dallas called “Thursday Therapy” – you might be wondering what this is?!  Essentially this is a casual, fun happy hour where Dallas wedding pros come together monthly to collaborate, talk shop, meet new colleagues and visit with old friends.  I got this idea from Michelle because she started a similar group an few years ago in Seattle called “Tuesday Toast”…it was such a great way to meet some awesome people in a non-intimidating environment that I decided to bring that idea to Dallas.

So first things first, in order to start a successful networking group I would recommend what I call “hitting the pavement”.  This is where you devote a significant chunk of time to putting yourself out there and setting up meetings with wedding pros.  In order to start a new group, it’s critical that you’re visible in your wedding community and have established a presence.

Here are a few tips and strategies for “hitting the pavement”:

  • Set a goal of meeting with “X” number of wedding pros per week.  You might have time to meet 5 new people a week, or 10…but it’s often helpful to set that goal so you can keep yourself on track.
  • Use a spreadsheet to track who you meet with – this is a great way to outline who you want to meet with, prioritize who to meet with first, and check them off your list when you’ve met. You’ll look back at your list after a few weeks and realize how much you’ve accomplished and how many new people you’ve met to expand your network!  We have a free excel template that you can download here and use to track your vendor networking.
  • This next point is critical – it’s important during these “hitting the pavement” meetings that you focus on relationship building.  This has been the key to success in my own Wedding Planning business as I have established my network and really focused on fostering my relationships with other Planners, Photographers, Florists, etc.  I try to frame the meeting to ask others, “What can I do for you?” instead of trying to sell them on me or my services.  This shows them that you “get it” when it comes to collaboration and want to foster a relationship with them.
  • During these meetings, mention that you’re interested in starting a networking group and gauge their interest!  Ask questions that will give you helpful info to use as you build your networking group:
    • What have been some of your best experiences with networking groups?
    • What do you think our city is lacking in regards to networking groups?
    • What type of structure do you prefer with a networking group (ie – lunch meetings, happy hour, etc)?
    • What time of day and what part of the city would you prefer to meet?
    • Etc, etc.

So go on, grab your shoes and head out the door to hit the pavement!:)  Join us tomorrow to learn how to easily launch a group!

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May 25, 2010 - 9:57 am

Barbie Hull - Fantastic article!! And thank you girls for starting Tuesday Toast – SUCH A great idea!!

May 25, 2010 - 8:18 pm

Lynn Michelle - I’m excited about future posts, this is so interesting!!!

May 26, 2010 - 9:06 am

Dawn - I was just discussing this idea with someone a couple of days ago. Can’t wait to read the series!

May 27, 2010 - 6:02 am

Starting a Networking Group – Part 3 of 3 » Sage Wedding Pros - [...] Starting a Networking Group – Part 1 of 3 [...]

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