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Getting on a Preferred Partner/Vendor List (and How to Stay There!)

In the chaotic world of events, being listed as a preferred partner is like gaining a golden ticket to a world of endless opportunities. It's not just about getting your foot in the door, but also ensuring that door stays wide open.

Recognition as a preferred partner is a testament to your excellence in creating unforgettable experiences. So, whether you're a seasoned pro looking to solidify your position or a newcomer eager to make your mark, follow these four strategies to become a preferred vendor and ensure your business thrives in an ever-evolving industry.

Establish meaningful connections

Building solid relationships with fellow industry pros is essential in becoming a preferred vendor. Start by identifying those you admire and respect within your local creative community. Who are they collaborating with, and which coveted lists do they belong to? Often, you'll find that your community is tight-knit, and you might already have some mutual connections.

Initiate introductions by positioning yourself as a reputable partner. Attend local networking events and gatherings where you'll likely cross paths with potential collaborators. Making a great first impression increases the likelihood of being recommended when an opportunity arises.

Give it time

It's important to tread carefully when approaching a fellow creative partner about joining their preferred vendor list, especially if you're new or still need to establish rapport. Jumping the gun and asking for inclusion right out of the gate can be counterproductive for several reasons.

Firstly, it can come across as presumptuous and self-serving, potentially damaging a budding relationship before it can develop naturally. Secondly, without a history of collaboration or a demonstrated track record, you may not yet possess the credentials preferred partners typically embody.

Instead, invest time in cultivating genuine connections, contributing value to your partnerships, and proving your expertise through your work. As trust and mutual respect grow over time, the conversation about becoming a preferred vendor will likely be met with openness and consideration.

Treat events like interviews

Treating each event as if it were an interview for a spot on a preferred vendor list is a strategic approach for event professionals. Every project you work on is an opportunity to showcase your skills and demonstrate your professionalism, reliability, and commitment.

Event planners and venues often consider past performance and reputation when selecting preferred vendors, so consistently delivering outstanding results at every event will elevate your chances. Moreover, each celebration is a chance to build valuable relationships within the industry.

Treating each occasion as an audition leaves a lasting impression on event planners and fellow professionals, increasing the likelihood of earning referrals for future opportunities.

How to stay there

Once you've secured a spot on the preferred vendor list (hooray!), it's vital to understand that staying there can be just as challenging as making it in the first place. The reality is that there's a constant influx of both new and seasoned industry professionals vying for the same coveted positions, just as you once did. Many venues and event planners update their lists annually, if not more frequently, and you risk being replaced if you're not actively maintaining your presence.

To ensure your continued status, treat your fellow creative partners with the same level of care and attention you extend to your clients. Small, thoughtful gestures can go a long way in keeping you at the forefront of their minds, making them more inclined to recommend you for new opportunities.

Remember the 'surprise and delight' strategy as well. From heartfelt notes and small tokens of appreciation to thoughtful 'survival' packages during the busiest seasons, go out of your way to support others. These gestures don't need to be extravagant; even the smallest acts convey your genuine appreciation for their partnership.

By connecting with your community and putting genuine effort into each event, you'll be well on your way to securing your position on a preferred vendor list and ensuring you remain there for years to come. The events industry is competitive, but with dedication, professionalism, and a focus on building meaningful partnerships, your future will surely be filled with success and exciting opportunities! 


Kevin Dennis

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.