Monday, February 21, 2011

Professional Networks Are Good For Business

Last week I wrote about how brides should use their network to find professionals who will do a good job. A similar thing is true for wedding pros.

A few weeks ago I had a day where I had nine tasting appointments scheduled. As I was writing up the contracts, I realized that eight out of the nine had been directly referred to me, either from other businesses, or from previous clients.

That's a good feeling, because it told me that I'm doing work that people trust. I'm very grateful to my network for sending business to me, and I want to make sure that I return the favor.

I ask brides who they're using in other wedding categories, and I refer them to people who I know will do a good job. Referring brides to other good professionals accomplished three things.

First, it helps the bride cut through the process of trying to figure out who knows what they're doing.

Second, it helps the other professional book business.

Third, it positions you as someone who knows what they're talking about.

I won't refer to people who I don't know, have never worked with, or whose work I don't like. If I don't know about another business, how can I vouch for them?

When I first started my business, I wasn't able to refer to a lot of different categories, because the cake wasn't something that people booked until later in the planning process. They'd usually booked everything before they got to me.

Now that I've been in business for 12 years, I get more people who want to book me earlier, and I'm able to refer them to pretty much every other business category. I even get people who haven't booked a reception site yet, and I'm able to give them advice on that.

I belong to a few networking groups, and I also pay attention when I deliver cakes to see what other people are doing. Use any opportunity you have to talk to other wedding pros and see how you can help each other out. Make it a mutually helpful relationship and be willing to refer clients to other pros, and you'll see your business increasing as they refer people to you.


 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

2 comments:

Wanda Lopez said...

Kara, loved this post. At this point in my life I am focusing in learning more about cake (baking, decorating, + more), so that one day I can be in a position like the one you are in today. Comfortable with your quality of work and referring to others like you. Great post!

Kara said...

Thanks, Wanda. It's important to have people who you feel good about working with. The bar to enter the wedding business can be pretty low, you get a lot of people who set up shop but who don't really know what they're doing. You have to be careful about who you refer people to. If I send a client to someone who does a bad job that reflects poorly on me, too.