Networking for Introverts: Using Instagram to Network
When you are in the wedding industry, networking with fellow wedding vendors and venue owners is a must. The relationships that you make with these vendors will increase the visibility of your wedding bases business, increase the amount of leads you bring in, and provides you with a group of peers that can give you advice, help you brainstorm, and inspire you. Being seen can also keep you on top of mind, making you a go-to when asked for vendor recommendations!
When you are an introvert, attending wedding industry networking events is something that can cause some serious anxiety. This also applies for people who aren’t quite introverts, but those who feel they are socially awkward or who get extremely shy when around those they are unfamiliar with.
Instagram is an awesome tool that wedding vendors can use to network with their fellow wedding business owners. Here are a few ideas on how you can use Instagram to network with wedding vendors and potential partners!
Using Instagram for Networking
1. Find (and follow) fellow wedding vendors on Instagram
The first step to using Instagram as a networking tool for your wedding business is to FIND your fellow wedding vendors. Start by making a list of vendors that you would love to talk to. These are the vendors that inspire you, the vendors that you are dying to work with, or ones who just seem awesome and you know you would like to meet them! You can create this list by searching on the internet or by using hashtag and location searches on Instagram!
Once you have your list, go follow them! Check out their feeds and start liking and engaging with their content. This is not something that can be a one and done type thing. This is something that needs to be part of your daily Instagram routine. After time, the vendors you are interacting with will start to take notice of you too. They may follow you back, they may start engaging with your content. Even if they don’t, they are at the very least learning who you are and being introduced to your brand.
Keep in Mind:
This list should always be evolving. Make it a point to find and research your vendors on a weekly basis. New vendors should be continuously added to your list, and vendors who may not align with your personal style or ideal client can be removed.
PS: Don’t be afraid to think big! Put vendors you look up to or aspire to work with on your list!
Pro Tip: Save these vendors into an Instagram Collection. This way you know exactly where to find the vendors you have been engaging with, and they won’t get lost in the shuffle!
2. Invite vendors to meet in person!
This idea may send shivers up your spine, but hear me out! If you did the tip above and have started a list of vendors to interact with (and are consistently engaging with their content), you are going to start building a relationship or two.
Take note of who has followed you back and who is returning the favor by liking or commenting on your Instagram posts. You can even check to see what vendors are viewing your stories. Once these Instagram based relationships start to form, it is time to take it to the next level! Send them a direct message and invite them for a cup of coffee or to go to lunch. This 1:1 interaction is way more doable than entering a room full of 50+ wedding vendors. Instagram can help you work towards meaningful vendor relationships that could blossom into amazing partnerships in the future!
Pro Tip: When you are first meeting a vendor for the first time, keep it friendly. Don’t go in expecting that just because you are meeting that you will automatically become a source of referrals for each other. Get to know a little more about each other both personally and professionally. Talk about possible shoots or ideas the two of you could possibly work on in the future.
3. Use Instagram to effectively propose partnership or collaborative ideas
Have you ever emailed or used Instagram to direct message a business who may not know you about a potential partnership or collaborative idea you have? Maybe you emailed a wedding venue you want to work at but have heard crickets in return?
Better yet, have you ever RECEIVED an email or message from someone wanting to partner with you? Someone that you have NEVER HEARD OF before?
These types of emails and messages are not typically well-received, and one of the reason is because it often feels so impersonal. Another reason is because businesses need to know and trust a brand before they commit to working with them. We also have to keep in mind how busy wedding vendors become during wedding season, so working with someone they know NOTHING about isn’t something they want to put the time into during a busy period.
The key here is that you need to warm them up and give them an idea of who you are. Instagram can help you with this process!
Before you even think of what vendors you can work with, think of specific ideas for partnerships and collaborative projects. Do you want to work with a wedding brand such as Azazie? Brainstorm the terms you are thinking of, so when you DO reach out in the future, you have a solid idea with specific terms to present. Is there a wedding venue that you really want to work with? What would an awesome partnership or collaborative project look like that would benefit both you and the venue? Maybe a bridal boutique needs photos, or a wedding businesses storefront needs designed. Having a solid idea will allow a business to take your request seriously.
After you have brainstormed your idea list, now you need to make a list of vendors who fit in with the ideas you brainstormed. Similar to how you did in idea #1, create a list of vendors, follow them, and start interacting!
Butter. Them. Up. Continue interacting on a regular basis. Make sure you are leaving meaningful comments on their posts and responding to their stories. Responding to their Instagram stories automatically gets you into their DM’s, which is a great place to be!
You can even feature their business in their stories! Use the send icon on a post to send the image straight to your stories! Just be sure to tag them and any vendors who need credit!
Once you feel like an Instagram relationship has been sparked, you can take the next step and reach out! This way, when you reach out they will recognize your name, know your business, and be more willing to think about your offer!
Pro Tip: Consistency is key. This is a process, and it may take time for a fellow vendor to start taking notice of you. Do not be discouraged, keep persistent! Interacting with feeds on a regular basis will have great payouts if you keep up with it!
4. Use Instagram to get to know businesses who will be at a networking event!
Have you ever met someone and felt like you knew them already because you follow them on social media? This is the same kind of idea.
Find out what vendors are attending local wedding networking events, and start chatting up a few of them on Instagram. This way, when you attend the networking event you will feel a bit more comfortable knowing that you have vendors you are looking forward to meeting (and who have already talked to you!)
5. Nurture relationships you have already established.
If you are putting these ideas into action, over time you are going to grow and awesome network of vendors and businesses. With that said, a relationship that isn’t tended to WILL FIZZLE. In order for your business relationships to last, you must remember to spend time loving on those who are already a part of your network. Instagram is a great way to do this. While it will never replace in person interactions, it is a place where you can pop in let a vendor know you are thinking of them. This can be through liking and commenting on their posts. This can be through interacting with their stories. Send them a quick “thinking of you” message, share their work on your feed! So many great ideas to let them know that you are thinking of them!
Wrapping it Up
There is definitely a few underlying themes here!
- Use Instagram to find vendors, whether it’s just so you KNOW OF vendors in your area or to potentially collaborate, Instagram is a great place to get you started.
- Use Instagram to spark IG relationships with your fellow vendors by authentically engaging on a regular basis.
- It’s all about taking that next step: Reaching out! Every relationship has a “next step”. If you simply interact without any kind of outreach, you can compare it to being “friend-zoned”. Once you feel that a vendor is noticing and interacting with you back,you will feel more comfortable about taking the relationship to the next level! Whether it’s meeting in person for lunch, getting together at the next networking event, or proposing a partnership, sending them that message