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Why You’re Not on the Preferred Vendor List

As event professionals, we strive for perfection, recognition, and opportunities to grow our businesses. Inclusion on the preferred vendor list of the right venues or creative partners can be the key to propelling us forward and helping us achieve our goals. If you’re having trouble getting your name on the list, you are likely wondering why, and what you need to do to secure a spot. Here are a few reasons why you are not on the preferred vendor list.

You asked too soon

Did you work one glorious event at a site or with a respected creative partner and immediately asked to be included on their lists? It’s one of the biggest mistakes you can possibly make. Looking overeager makes you seem inexperienced and, for lack of a better word, desperate for validation and for new business. No one wants to associate with those qualities, especially when offering referrals to their valued clients. Take time to build a professional relationship through extended contact and networking, and find a way to bring it up in a more general way. In the course of a natural conversation, ask them how they formed their list: it takes the pressure off when you ask how they did something, versus ‘why not me?’

Photo courtesy Corie Torpie Photography

You’re being impatient

Many businesses only update their lists once per season or even once each year. If you haven’t bothered to stay in touch and nurture your relationship with them, you’ve probably dropped off of their radar. Make an effort to extend small gestures throughout the year to those businesses with whom you hope to associate. Send a handwritten note once in a while, drop off some fun and useful logo’d swag, or send a gift on an obscure national holiday like “National Miniature Golf Day.” Keep it light, funny, and enjoyable for all.

“Inclusion on a preferred vendor list is an act of trust and it has to be earned.”

The other vendors don’t know you

You never know who the influencers on the lists really are, so you may be unfamiliar to someone key. If you want to be associated with a specific group of professionals, get to know more than one business on the list. Introduce yourself, and find out how you can be valuable to them by extending your own referrals without asking for anything in return. Attend networking events with them and partner on projects through local associations. Once your faces are familiar to others as a total package, your spot on the list can’t be far behind.

Of course, if your experience at a venue or with another vendor wasn’t as positive as you had hoped, whether your fault or not, you’ll need to demonstrate your quality of work and service over time and essentially prove that you can be trusted to deliver. Inclusion on a preferred vendor list is an act of trust and it has to be earned. Once you make it, keep your spot by being the consummate professional and generous source of referrals that you are.

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.