I recently got married and enjoyed every minute of the day. You’re probably wondering ‘what has this got to do with networking?’ Well, the reason my wife and I had such a fabulous time is because everything was well planned and the people we chose to make it happen were brilliant. We found all of them through networking of one kind or another. The brilliant band deserved their PR opportunity – it’s hardly Hello! magazine.
Contrary to what I had been told, the day of our nuptials didn’t pass really quickly and I was able to savour every minute. I can remember every magical detail. My wife is an Operations Director and the wedding was in Sicily (where my wife Josie is from). Read on to find out how we did without a wedding planner, how we found some of the ‘wedding network’ connections and………did it really go smoothly?
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Why is a first impression so important?
Anyone that has been married will tell you that suppliers seem to add an extra zero when the word wedding is mentioned. It initially proved difficult to find someone with experience of planning a wedding in a small Sicilian town. When we did, we were distinctly unimpressed with the response of those we approached, even though some had been recommended. We decided to find our own venue, photographers, florists etc. I could go on yet we all know detail that goes into a “one-off” event is immense.
My wonderful wife dovetailed with her equally delightful sister in Sicily to find everything and everyone we needed by asking their existing contacts. Josie, Maria and I agreed we had to meet everyone face to face before we picked them. That wasn’t easy yet it was imperative because the day had to go without a hitch. And there were a lot of cogs in this wedding wheel.
Does ‘word of mouth’ always work?
Just one example was our want for two photographers who had worked together before. If one couldn’t travel we wanted a reserve and we found such a pair in Cambridge via word of mouth. These were one of few UK based suppliers. Coincidentally, I had been asked to work for Best of Cambridge who had heard about workshops I had delivered for Best of Richmond. I was able ask my Cambridge contacts about the photographers too and that gave me even more confidence. We went on to make sure I delivered the workshops and met the photographers on the same day. My wife makes these things happen!
Everyone played their part in the run up and the day itself was truly Magical. The only glitch on the actual wedding day was when one of the hairdressers turned up late. This pushed everything back and would have left one of the bridal party with an odd set of locks. Luckily, the embarrassment was avoided because the other hairdresser made good time and saved the day. However, this could have been avoided because ‘word of mouth’ had warned us.
What if ‘word of mouth’ is ignored?
People in business network in order to generate business via word of mouth. It sometimes takes the place of a first impression. My nephew-in-law (Carlo) had initially expressed his concern that the ‘late’ hairdresser had been late in the past. He heard this through the “grapevine” – the oldest network there is. For some reason, this went under my radar – ‘listen to Carlo and all young people’ is a lesson I learned from hindsight. Bad news travels exceptionally fast in close knit communities, much like online communities. So make sure the vast majority of your news is good news.
On the contrary, the well prepared hairdresser is considered a hero. His reputation has grown overnight and everyone that is asking about him is hearing good things. The wedding was also featured in the Sicilian press. We had no objection to this happening because the band were brilliant. When we met them they were full of personality just like they were on our Big Day. Guess where we found them? YouTube.
Wrap up: Word of mouth is a prelude to a first impression. Don’t forget to ask your existing contacts for help when you need something, they usually want to help you. LinkedIn, Facebook, twitter, etc. are all platforms people can use to introduce you or others – if they want to. The word of mouth you receive about other people is often unavoidable on these platforms, so make sure yours is good.
Top Tip; Always have a Plan B. Having a contingency photographer became a real benefit as my Mum fell ill before the big day and wasn’t allowed to travel. Yet she is looking forward to seeing how both our days unfolded in pictorial form. A happy side effect of contingency planning.
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