Adopting a Mentorship Mindset for Industry Elevation
It wasn’t long ago that I remember sending my first email to State Coordinator of my state. I had found the Association of Bridal Consultants on my own via internet search. I purchased the Professional Development Course and silently worked my way through the course.
I didn’t hang any signs or worry about how to find clients. I completed the course, attended a live training in Chicago, and had my certificate in hand before I ever reached out to find other local planners. This was 14 years ago now.
Today, while I’m no longer actively serving wedding couples, I am actively mentoring and teaching wedding professionals from around the world! Why? Because adopting a mentorship mindset has allowed me the opportunity to give back to those who taught me.
I was less than a year in the business when (after I had been actively attending our local ABC chapter meetups) I able to conjure up the nerve to ask the leading planner in our area if I could shadow her for one of her weddings. She graciously said yes and has since been a trusted source of information and resources for me. She truly believes that mentorship is valuable and necessary for growth and the viability of our craft.
However, recent times have us “old folks” wondering if mentorship is really just the same as being taken advantage of, stolen from, or lied to. I’ve heard countless stories from wedding planners who have hired an assistant only to have them begin a competing company with their information. Or new planners pretending to be potential clients. Not to mention, the use of online groups for getting inspiration, requesting contracts, and asking for business advice. Many seasoned planners are finding themselves ready to roll up the welcome mat and not let anyone in – anymore.
The community over competition movement is often mentioned in relationship to the decline of mentorship and the blurring of etiquette lines in the wedding industry. I’ve heard stories from event professional where the statement community over competition was used to try to force information from a competitor. If we don’t work together how can we all rise the tide?
The greater question here is… Is there a happy medium? Can seasoned wedding planners mentor younger businesses without selling the farm? And how do new wedding planners ask for help without feeling needy or crossing a boundary?
The collective answer is a resounding yes! A colleague said something very impactful to me that stays in the forefront of my mind. “You only have to know a little more than someone else to be able to teach them something!” It was a powerful message.
This one statement radically changed my approach to education and mentorship in the wedding industry. And it could change yours too!
Here’s 3 reasons why:
Anyone Can Teach
That’s right. Anyone who has learned something can share that knowledge and experience with someone else. If we all adopted this view, the sharing of knowledge and experience wouldn’t need to be guarded. And naturally we would all feel as if we were being fed.
This means that even young professionals can share their knowledge with start ups. That those who have been in business 20 years have something to share with those who have been in business for 10. Your stories, your experience – they matter.
You Control What You Teach
You don’t have to give away your trade secrets to teach someone how to be fabulous at their job. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Teach them how to empower themselves to learn, develop, and grow. Lead them to helpful resources, communities and associations that can help them. Share what you did to build your business. You don’t have to share your contract or your production sheets to help them grow. Empower them to help themselves!
Everyone is Good Enough
If you’ve learned something and it can help someone it’s ok to share it, even if you’re new to the industry. It’s no longer good enough to roll up the welcome mat and not raise others up through education and mentorship. It’s also equally important that new businesses expect to glean everything off of old businesses. We are all responsible to do the work that it requires to mentor others. We are all responsible to do the work it requires to learn and grow our businesses no matter how long our flag has been flying. Because when we’re all helping each other and helping ourselves, ultimately we’re helping the industry as a whole.
You don’t have to hire every intern request that pops into your inbox. There’s still going to be people who didn’t realize they’d have to work every Saturday night while crawling around on the floor in a dress.
New planners, remember, you can’t expect help, mentorship, and advice from a seasoned professional to be freely given. Do the research, join the right associations, take the courses, go as far as you can on your own. Then ask targeted questions that only a seasoned professional would know. They’ll easily be able to see you’ve done the hard work. Likely they’ll be more available to help you.
It’s time empower each other to do better. I encourage you, when you see a promising business owner or someone working hard to do well… give them a chance. Take a moment to encourage them. Open your heart and your phone line to the occasional call.
If you’re new to the industry, do the work before simply hopping into an online community. Understand what information in sacred and shareable. Use google or get involved in a friend or family members wedding. It’s your job to do the work. Ask for the resources to help you learn something. Then do the work to learn everything you can. Once you’ve done the work ask more meaningful and valuable questions of your mentor.
Together we can…
Be kind. If you didn’t create it, it doesn’t belong to you! If you didn’t design it, you can’t use it unless you paid for it. Your business will be so much more successful when you create your own processes, designs, and procedures.
Be willing to share! As the industry begins to flood with wedding professionals the true value of adopting a mentorship mindset is in elevating the entire reputation of the industry.
I bet you’ll find that community and competition can work together. And with a healthy dose of a mentorship mindset, the entire industry will rise.
Kellie Daab, is a national author, speaker, and business strategist for wedding industry professionals. She is the host of the online media outlet and community Wedding Industry Education. Her flagship business, iDo Collective helps wedding professionals create brands they love, strategies that work, and processes they’ll use. With 13 years of experience in the wedding industry, owning a boutique wedding planning and consulting firm, working in high-end hospitality, and producing events for a multi-million dollar catering company, Kellie has worn the heels and carried the bus tubs. Today, Kellie can be found leading her community of wedding professionals from around the world by empowering their ingenuity and encouraging innovation.
April 18, 2018
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