I’m so excited about today’s topic! Today, I’m sharing how I’ve been able to build authentic and genuine vendor relationships. This is a topic I’ve been excited to talk about because it’s had such an impact on my business. Not only are these amazing vendors where most of my referrals come from, but they’re some of the best people I know – and get to work with! Getting to know other vendors in the industry has been such a huge blessing for me. These aren’t just transactions. These are actual relationships. Not to get anything out of it but to get to know them as a person. I know that building relationships can be difficult, so I hope you find a few tips in this blog that will help you feel more comfortable reaching out and making those connections.
Let me share with you how to deepen relationships with vendors. Although I am always searching for genuine, person-to-person connection when reaching out, I know that it has also blessed my business. By connecting and building these relationships, I stay on the forefront of these vendors’ minds. As couples look for referrals, my business often comes up. I don’t want to say always – I’m not guaranteeing anything! But it does happen. And I’m so grateful! So, here’s five ways to reach out and build those authentic relationships with local vendors in your area!
Make a List of Vendors You Love & Reach Out
First of all, I would encourage you to make a list of vendors you love working with or would love to work with in the future. Once you have that list, I would simply email them! Of course, you could also reach out on social media, ask for a coffee date, or send a message.If you’ve already worked with them, reaching out can be as simple as asking how they are, mentioning the wedding you worked together, and saying you can’t wait to again. That’s it! It can be as simple as that. Reconnect with them. Now’s a great time – see how people are doing and build your authentic relationships in this slow season (thanks, COVID-19!)!
Remember, stay genuine and your goal should always be to really want to connect with other vendors. It’s NEVER about what you could get out of the relationship. It’s always about truly wanting to know them, their business, their story. If you’re not interested in getting to know someone as the person they are, then don’t reach out.
For the ones you don’t know, I would reach out and introduce yourself. I know I’ve done that with photographers especially. And because of that, I’ve met friends all over the state and even found some of my second shooters this way! It is possible to build relationships – and use technology to do so, especially with vendors. And definitely now. Get their information and decide how you’re going to reach out to them.
Offer to Help
Another great idea is to offer to help… this is a great tip for venue owners/coordinators! Regardless, if it’s a venue I’ve photographed at or one I love and haven’t photographed yet, I will reach out and introduce or reconnect and ask if I can take a tour of the venue. I want to meet them and ask if they can show me around. While I’m on the tour, I’ll take photos and then email them after the tour. For example, there was a local venue where I hadn’t shot a wedding at yet. But I emailed them about an upcoming engagement session and asked if I could schedule the session. I offered to send a small gallery of images over after I visited – and in response, they waived the fee to shoot and now they’re using my images all over their social media and website! Whether it’s photos of the property, offering to shoot an updated headshot, or simply saying hello, this little act of kindness can go a long way!
Get to Know the Vendor Team
The next thing I’d recommend is actually introducing yourself to your client’s vendor team before the wedding day. I send my clients a questionnaire a few months before the wedding to gather the vendor team’s names, websites, emails, and instagram handles. Since you don’t often see the whole team on the actual wedding day, reaching out by email can be a great way to connect easily!
After I get the response from my clients, I send an email with all of the vendors on one email so we’re all connecting together. I will introduce myself as the photographer and let them know I’m excited to work together and tell them ways we can connect (cell phone, website, instagram) and keep it super simple. The responses are always quick but they’ll engage with me! You’re not interfering, not bothering them, or interrupting their day. I think we all want to be connected for our shared client and want to provide a great experience for them. As a bonus, on the wedding day, you’ll recognize and know each other a little bit better, too!
And don’t forget to share the timeline with them! This has been helpful too, because sometimes things get missed from my client, or things are changed, so I might get responses from the DJ or venue coordinator with any updates. It’s no problem and we do it months in advance so we’re all on the same page. This also helps serve my clients and avoid them from being the middleman in between me and the other vendors!
Blog the Wedding & Share with the Vendors
After a wedding is live on my blog, I send an email to all of the vendors letting them know about the blog and that I loved working with them! In the email, I encourage them to share the blog on their own social media. I even provide the list of Instagram handles for them (I do all the work for them!) and make it so easy for them! Within the blog, I always include their name and hyperlink to their website in the blog so anyone viewing can connect easily.
Share the Wedding Gallery
The last thing is once I deliver the gallery to my clients, I email the full gallery to my vendors. I always double check my clients are okay with the gallery being shared (and almost everyone has been), so I send it! The majority of the time, these vendors don’t receive galleries from wedding days which makes me sad. There’s no way for them to promote their businesses otherwise. So, it’s such a huge blessing to be able to share that gallery on social media. They’re going to be posting and tagging you on social media, which also helps you reach their followers too!
Phew, I know that was a lot. And it seems like I’m talking to these vendors a ton… which I am! It’s easy and fun, and it’s blessed my life (and business) ten fold, so it’s definitely a great use of my time. Here’s a quick recap of my tips to create authentic relationships:
- Make a list of favorite vendors that you have worked with or want to and reach out with them.
- Offer to help (photos for venue, updated headshots, etc).
- Get contact information from your clients (3-4 months before wedding) and introduce yourself to the vendor team.
- I will blog and share with the vendors, making it easy for them to share on their end.
- Share wedding day galleries with them after the wedding day!
So that’s it! Those are my five ways to build authentic relationships with vendors. It has been huge for me and I hope these are great, tangible ways you can connect with vendors yourself! Know that these relationships will last. I love connecting with other creatives! Knowing that I’m building wonderful working relationships and friendships with them all is just THE BEST!
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