I recently joined Brandee Gaar on her amazing She Who Dares podcast to talk about one of my favorite topics within the wedding professionals community – why can’t we be friends?
When I started in the industry, I was an innocent and enthusiastic newbie that just wanted to make friends with all my amazing fellow planners – and oh boy did I have a rude awakening. The first time I spotted the Wedding Planner of that Year at a party, I went right up to her with a naive enthusiasm, and the look she gave me almost literally shrunk me right on the spot! (this planner and I are great friends now, but we sure weren’t in that moment!)
It really made me wonder if we could have community and competition coexist in the same space – the answer is, you CAN! And as naive as I was, I was hellbent on proving it and being the catalyst to a supportive and connected community of planners that push each other professionally without the sting of jealous competition.
Just Do It
It wasn’t easy – it all began in one little coffee shop in LA with me and two other planners running Rising Tide meetings talking about a community that didn’t yet exist. All we knew is that we had a similar vision and the time to come together to make it happen! We wanted to turn our cold and competitive industry into a supportive and thriving community of planners and pros that could lean on and learn from each other – and we did.
You could have looked at us then and had NO idea we were having a business-related conversation – we looked like 3 friends that ran into each other at a downtown LA hipster coffee bar. Certainly not an organized bunch with a plan, but we had a mission – a mission to cultivate a reciprocal, honest, trustworthy referral network for fellow planners and pros to refer clients according to their niche.
Without a network like this, I would never have gotten my first wedding gig. A friend called me up, told me a couple she knew had $600 to make a miracle happen, and the rest is history. If my friend would have taken the L on the gig with a too-competitive mindset instead of looking out for the couple’s interest and budget, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now. I may have never gotten on the path I am today!
But, where do I begin?
Not sure how to start? My best piece of advice – and no, don’t come at me for the cliche because I’m being real here – be your authentic self. Be you, be kind, listen, and get your name out there. Show your industry your WHY to make you stand out. Sure, we as wedding planners all love weddings (duh) and love what we do, but every single one of us has a different “why.” WHY weddings? The more you ask, the better answer you’ll get, I promise.
If you really do want this within your industry – there’s no time like the present. This is such a powerful moment of rebirth in history as we reopen our world after such a bonkers 18 months we never could have imagined. We’ve all been through our own elements of change – for me, professionally, it’s been venues, people, rules, affiliates – so much change! We have all (hopefully) grown from this experience and will help build our world better – and that starts within ourselves.
Community Over Competition
The power of community will always be greater than competition, but it’s not always easy to maintain that status quo. Not everyone is a team player, and not everyone will have the same mindset or desire as you will. And not everyone will deserve your trust or earn it, nor will everyone like you and vice versa. Hey, that’s okay – that’s life! Just don’t let those negative Nancy’s discourage you from your mission!
If you work to put yourself out there and trust the right people, the community will come with the right business and the right message. Think about it – if you have clients desiring a specific vision that doesn’t fit your brand, but you have the perfect planner to refer them to (who will charge them a similar price point because you’re friends and won’t low-ball someone else’s quoted price for the sake of getting a client) – both the planner and the clients will LOVE YOU. It’s a win-win-win – you were looking out for the best interest of the couple, the planner that just got business will be happy and earn trust, and your brand will stay intact with two more allies that would love to refer your services.
Always remember to work in your sweet spot, your zone of genius. We have an entire community full of amazing and skilled planners, so if we insert competition back into our industry, and keep the ‘every-person-for-themselves’ mentality – we’ll stay stagnant forever. Don’t force yourself into someone else’s box – we’re all in this together!
How will you go out into the world to nurture your community?