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Podcast Show Notes

Can You Get Sued For Networking? Attorney Nicole Cheri Oden On The Legal Side Of Relationships In The Wedding Industry

June 4, 2024

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One of the best ways to grow your wedding business is through networking. The wedding industry is a relationship-based industry, but could the relationships you're building be putting your business at risk? Today, I've brought on Nicole Cheri Oden to talk all about the LEGAL side of networking.

Here's the tea: the legal side of networking in the wedding industry is often overlooked but it really is so important for protecting your business. Building relationships and referrals are key to growing a business, but there are legal considerations to keep in mind. Some examples we discuss in this episode include intellectual property theft, data privacy breaches, and disputes in cross promotions.

Ultimately, it is important to have written agreements in place, such as contracts and non-disclosure agreements, to protect your boundaries and intellectual property. Consulting with an attorney early on and having clear ownership provisions can prevent legal issues down the line.

Tune in to hear us talk all about: trademarks, copyrights, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), referrals, non-compete agreements, and so much more!

Podcast episode titled "The Legal Side Of Networking with Nicole Cheri Oden," from "The Power in Purpose." An image of a smartphone displaying the podcast is shown alongside sound waves.

In this episode with Attorney Nicole Cheri Oden:

  • 02:22 The Legal Side of Networking: Often Overlooked
  • 06:18 Building Relationships and Legal Considerations
  • 09:27 Data Privacy and Intellectual Property in Networking
  • 11:31 Legal Issues and Litigious Individuals
  • 15:13 Protecting Your Business: Written Agreements and Ownership Provisions
  • 22:13 Preventing Information Misuse: Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • 24:28 Joint Ventures and Collaborations: Contracts and Confidentiality
  • 25:27 Protecting Intellectual Property
  • 28:44 The Importance of Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • 31:37 Normalizing NDAs in Business
  • 38:31 The Changing Landscape of Non-Compete Agreements
  • 42:41 Understanding Contracts and Enforcing Legal Agreements
Nicole Cheri Oden talking about the legal side of networking

About Nicole Cheri Oden

A licensed attorney in the State of California for 12+ years, Nicole left Big Law to start her own virtual law firm – Nicole Cheri Oden Law, PC – to make trademark registration and boutique legal services accessible to small business owners across the United States.

After Nicole started working with fellow online entrepreneurs, she found many of them were overwhelmed by their legal needs. So she opened her digital shop, Legal Templates and More, to bring legal awareness and protection to small business owners.

Her attorney-drafted templates are customizable for almost every industry – making legal protection available to everyone!

Candice Coppola (01:11.438)

Hey Nicole, welcome to the podcast.

Nicole (01:16.996)

Hi, I'm so excited to be here.

Candice Coppola (01:19.15)

I'm thrilled to have you. It's always a thrill when we get to have an attorney come on the show and not give us legal advice, but answer some of our questions as best you can within the parameters of the law. So thank you so much for agreeing to come on today. I'm sure you get that a lot. You're a hot commodity in the business world because you help people navigate some of the challenges we face as business owners from the legal side.

Nicole (01:46.564)

Yeah, and I always have to kind of give that attorney disclaimer of, we're chatting, but it's not business advice. It's not legal advice. You want to make sure you chat with your attorney to discuss specifics about you and your business, especially jurisdictionally. A lot of it depends on where you're based and where you're operating. So something I always have to raise.

Candice Coppola (02:01.326)

Mm -hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. Well, I'm glad we were able to get that disclaimer out at the beginning of our interview. I'm thrilled for today because we're talking about a topic that I think most wedding pros don't even think about until it's almost too late, which is the legal side of networking. We don't often think that building relationships in our business that...

The legal aspect of that is something that we need to consider while we're meeting people and networking and working together. We're just so happy to be connected with others that I think we don't even give it a thought that we need to consider legal stuff until legal stuff happens. So it's like an in hindsight thing we think about.

Nicole (02:50.34)

Yep, unfortunately, you know.

especially with relationship marketing, it's one of the most important marketing tools for your business. I'm a firm believer in that referral -based building relationships. And I would even go so far as to say you don't really have a business if you're not building those relationships. So I completely understand it. But then I'm also on the back end seeing kind of some of the ugly underside of what happens when you don't consider some of the legal things that come along with that relationship marketing. I had an event planner client.

who was in the process of launching an online offer. And she had gone into a networking group and just, you know, very innocently shared her idea for her podcast and where things were going. And she hadn't really put anything into motion yet. It was kind of like one of those, I kind of started to map things out and think about it. And this was before she talked to me. And a week later, she saw somebody in her network had launched the exact same podcast with the exact same name, the exact same offer. And it was kind of like that stabbed to the heart of...

well, what do I do? Because we didn't take the steps to prevent that and to protect it before she shared. And so we ended up having to kind of pivot and go in a different direction, which I think honestly was the better launch. But it still hurts when you think that you're going into a networking space to share and build business and build those relationships. And somebody kind of turns around and does something that you know.

Candice Coppola (03:53.838)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (04:06.734)

the two.

Nicole (04:20.26)

hurts you. I mean, it does. It hurts you.

Candice Coppola (04:21.486)

I know it does. Well, as soon as you said she went into a Facebook group and was excited to share, I knew where the story was going. I knew where it was going. And I was saying to myself, my God, I feel so bad because you're so excited about something and you want to share it with your peers. And the last thing you expect is for somebody to nefariously and maliciously take what you're sharing and actually run with it. It's such a hard lesson to learn.

And unfortunately it happens, I think a lot more often than what people would consider. My first question as we get into this topic is, I guess, well, I guess we've maybe even answered this a little bit, but why should wedding pros be thinking about legal considerations when networking or just socializing? We're just building our businesses together, meeting new people, referring back and forth. Like, what would you say if you had to sum it up? What would you say is the biggest reason why we should be concerned?

Nicole (05:19.972)

I think it's just having your ducks in a row, like having that solid foundation built for the when, not the if, because it's inevitable that something is going to happen to you as a business owner that doesn't feel right, and it feels icky. And you have to kind of have that structure in place beforehand.

you know, legal is still changing. It's still keeping up with, especially the online industry. A lot of businesses are becoming more global because of the rise of the interwebs and data privacy legislation is also kind of chasing the tail of that rise. So another thing that I see a lot happen is, you know, in the wedding industry, a lot of these trade show events and things are big and people bring their business cards or their QR codes now, which are a big thing. And people swap.

information and then you go home and you upload all those email addresses to your CRM and start adding them to your marketing emails and that's not great guys. So it is, it is. I mean, the general data protection regulation or GDPR came about in May of 2018. If you haven't heard of it, it's definitely something to pay attention to. And that kind of set the stage for

Candice Coppola (06:18.158)

That's illegal actually, you can't do that.

Nicole (06:32.708)

this snowball effect of data privacy legislation getting enacted around the world, really. I mean, California followed suit. That's where I'm based. And so I'm very used to the very stringent legal protections here. But other states have followed suit as well. Connecticut, Utah, Virginia, everybody's kind of enacting their own legislation to really control how what's called private information is handled and processed. And that includes email addresses and names and mailing addresses. And so.

Candice Coppola (06:41.134)

Mm -hmm.

Nicole (07:02.244)

You think you're just kind of growing your list and sharing information, and you could be ending up in legal hot water. So it's one of those things, legally, you kind of have to pay attention and be aware of it every step of your business growth. It just doesn't go away.

Candice Coppola (07:10.094)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (07:17.358)

Yeah, it's true. Well, what you're saying is essentially you want to think about it before it becomes the problem so that you've already thought about it and taken whatever precautions and measures you can take in the eventuality that somebody does something, whether they copy you, they steal from you, they mess up at a wedding and somehow you're brought into that mess up, which I'm sure we're going to talk about.

Nicole (07:30.5)

Mm -hmm.

Candice Coppola (07:44.302)

There's a long list of interesting scenarios that you never think will happen until they happen. And you never know when you're meeting a litigious person. Like you never know when you're meeting somebody who is going to do something that you think most people wouldn't do, like steal from you or sue you for something or pursue you for using their email address in a way that legally you're not allowed to, even though maybe you just

sent one email and it was very harmless, you just never know who your, I guess your opponent is in some respects. And so you need to take good care of your business and your intellectual property.

Nicole (08:25.636)

Exactly. And especially with the rise of data breaches, unfortunately, a lot of these nefarious characters are targeting small businesses. So you may think, I don't have to worry about that. It's just an email address. How does that affect me? But if you're also collecting payment information or other things on the back end that somehow that breach, they could worm their way into your system, then you're exposing yourself to lawsuits. And people are going to be very unhappy having their personal information floating around out there in the hands of

Candice Coppola (08:54.318)

Yeah.

Nicole (08:55.542)

of who knows who. So it's those things that you always think it's not going to happen to me until it does. And then you're like, I wish I would have thought about this or addressed it sooner.

Candice Coppola (08:57.39)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (09:05.294)

Yeah, well, we're taking care of that for you today. We're at least going to run through some common scenarios that you might experience or maybe you've already experienced and get Nicole's advice on what you should do and when you should consult an attorney and maybe how to go about doing that based on some of the different scenarios. I think what I would love to do is maybe throw some common scenarios at you that wedding pros experience and maybe we can kind of talk through.

Nicole (09:07.3)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (09:34.51)

from your perspective, what your best suggestions would be or advice. I don't want to use the wrong word because none of this is legal advice. It's just only suggestions. But I think that might actually be really fun to kind of talk through some of the legal pitfalls we see when we're collaborating with other vendors. I guess my first one would be around

cross promotions. Wedding pros do a lot of cross promotion together, whether you're cross promoting each other's businesses, or maybe you've collaborated on a styled shoot or like an event for couples to attend. What are some of the legal considerations we should be making when we're engaged in like cross promotions with other vendors?

Nicole (10:19.78)

Yeah, so I mean, I guess one of the things to consider is, is it something that you're hosting with another person, some sort of event that you guys are putting on together, or is it more of like a referral type relationship or a marketing swap? I mean, it always kind of comes back to having a really solid written agreement in place for either.

option. I know a lot of people feel like written contracts are very legally and they're very formal and you know they may feel like they're overkill for something you know just like a marketing event that you guys are going to do online or maybe it's a show somewhere that's going to be just a couple of hours and you don't think anything bad is going to come of it. But having a very clear rule book.

Candice Coppola (10:55.246)

Right?

Nicole (11:05.508)

in writing that you both can revisit that outlines what does payment look like? I mean, if it's a paid opportunity, who's getting paid? How are they getting paid? When are they getting paid? If you're sharing intellectual property, which is a big asset of all of our businesses, you have to think about all of your copyrighted materials. I mean, if you're sharing formulas or processes or guidebooks.

Even just your brand name. I mean, if you've built a really big following and your trademarks are a key piece of your business, you want to make sure it's very clear who owns that intellectual property, irrespective of the joint hosting of an event. And having those very clear boundaries, I like to call them boundaries, established upfront so everybody knows what's coming from whatever this event is or the marketing swap or the referral agreements.

just so everybody has somewhere to go. If you do have a dispute arise, because it's gonna happen eventually, it may not be now, it may not be in 10 years, but eventually you're gonna have someone that's unhappy or sees things differently and having that place to go and kind of, okay, well, what did we agree to here is a really good starting point.

Candice Coppola (12:13.678)

Yeah, putting things in writing is important in general. And wedding pros know this because so much of what wedding pros do is communication and writing to affirm details. And you want paper trails to affirm that you sent things, you received things. And so we know how important those paper trails are, but sometimes that goes out the window when we're in the spirit of collaboration or connection or having a great idea and even working with somebody who you're quite close with or friendly with.

That paper trail goes out the window. So I think it's really smart advice to have some kind of when you're doing cross promotions or working on events together to have something in writing. How would somebody who is nervous about broaching that subject, what advice would you give them to kind of give them a little bit of courage to put something in writing and ask their friend or their colleague to be a

to sign it or to put input on it and do something legally like that.

Nicole (13:16.388)

Yeah, I mean, I think this is one of the most important conversations I have with my clients because some of the worst disputes I've seen come from family dealings or with best friends because they thought, hey, I don't have to worry about this. And then things went sideways. I think it really is just flipping the script about contracts. I think so many business owners view them as.

So legalese, so kind of formal and stilted. And if you kind of think of them as boundaries and just protecting your boundaries, but also protecting the boundaries of the person that you're working with so that there's expectations and it sets the tone for the relationships that everybody's on that level playing field and respectful of what is being expected from them and from the other person and timelines and all of those things. It kind of feels a little bit more empowering.

versus so stressful and so scary because you're launching this contract. And I think if that is your view, if you're feeling a little bit scared about launching a contract, sitting down with an attorney for a half an hour just to walk through what your expectations are. So you can put them in, we call them layperson terms. But just so you can say, hey, I'm not trying to make this super formal. I'm not trying to make a set up for litigation. I'm actually trying to prevent litigation so that if things do go south.

we're not ending up in a courtroom, we can just head back to the contract and figure out, you know, how can we settle a dispute? Because if you map out how disagreements are going to be handled, maybe you have a provision in there that talks about, hey, we're going to engage in good faith negotiation before we even decide if we're moving into mediation. You know, maybe we are going to go sit with a mediator that's somebody that we know, somebody that we're comfortable with from one of our networking circles to just kind of hammer out whatever the disagreement is. I think it just...

calms you and it makes you feel much more centered and empowered going into that working relationship.

Candice Coppola (15:10.702)

Yeah, you're absolutely right. One of my favorite pieces of advice that I picked up along the way while I was a wedding planner, always nervous to answer the questions of clients when it came to my contract, especially in the beginning. I got more confident as I understood my contract and felt very confident in it and also had this piece of advice, which was a contract is a two -way street. And so it's not just built to protect me, although there's plenty of provisions in there to protect me as this business owner.

It also is meant to protect the customer as well or the person on the other signature line of the contract. And that helped me to reframe my mindset around legal agreements and contracts because it's meant to protect both parties. And so I think to your point, if you approach it like this is for both of us to prevent anything.

from happening or should something happen, a course is outlined that we both agree to follow. It's in everybody's best interest. And sometimes we have to step up to the plate and be that voice of reason and be the person who's looking out for everybody, including ourselves.

Nicole (16:18.98)

Exactly. And I think it sets the tone for the relationship. But it also, I think, breeds this level of professionalism in our industry. Because the other business owner is going to see how you handled that and how you navigated it. And they're going to internalize that and take that experience with them to their next relationship. And it kind of feeds this shift, I think, in industries in that having legal is important, but it doesn't have to feel so scary and so overwhelming.

Candice Coppola (16:45.87)

Yeah, very true. My next scenario that I see a lot of wedding pros faced with is their branding intellectual property. It's something that you mentioned earlier in our conversation. And so I'd love to know some of your thoughts about what we should consider when we consider branding an intellectual property. And maybe you and I should also say what that means, so that somebody listening understands what we mean by brand.

Nicole (17:11.268)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (17:14.286)

and intellectual property.

Nicole (17:16.484)

Yeah, because a brand and your intellectual property, they're two distinct things, but they're lumped together a lot. So your brand really is the overall feeling and experience that your clients and your customers get from working with you, from your business. Whereas the intellectual property is kind of the legal way to protect the brand. And so intellectual property really refers to kind of creations of the minds that are physically manifested in some way. And so from your trademarks, which are

you know, your brand names and logos and they can come down to things like smells and colors. There's trade dress that falls under that trademark category. Your copyright, I think we mentioned processes and formulas and methodologies and those types of things like your, if you create courses, if you create blog posts, all of those things are protected by copyright laws.

And then if you take it so far as to launch some sort of invention in terms of an actual software or those things, that would be protected by patents. So those are kind of the big three of intellectual property, which is legal protection for that brand, that feeling in different avenues. But I definitely think sitting down and working with an attorney early on is key when it comes to protecting your brand and also including provisions in your contracts and being very clear about.

Candice Coppola (18:24.143)

Yeah.

Nicole (18:36.1)

who owns what intellectual property, especially if it's like a joint venture or some sort of co -hosted event or retreat, being very clear about that ownership is key.

Candice Coppola (18:46.062)

Yeah. One scenario that's popping up in my mind that I would love your thoughts on is wedding pros often trade documents and information in reference to the event that they're all going to be at. And so for instance, how does someone who, a wedding planner sending their timeline to a photographer, how do they prevent that photographer from taking that timeline and using it to start their own wedding planning business or...

forwarding it to their best friend who wants to be a wedding planner and then that person then takes that document and builds their whole business around it. Is there anything we can do in those circumstances or to prevent that even from happening?

Nicole (19:26.916)

Yeah, so it kind of depends on where you are in getting ready for the swap of information. So if you're in the early stages and we're just exploring whether we want to work together and whether we want to move forward, but we know that in discussions, we're going to have to share some of the behind the scenes business information. Having a non -disclosure agreement in place before the discussions take place is one of the best things you can do. A non -disclosure agreement, it's also referred to as a confidentiality agreement, really is just a legal obligation to keep a secret. So it's saying, hey,

I have this proprietary information. Weren talks about hosting. Maybe it's a retreat or whatever it may be. And we're going to have to kind of share some of this behind the scenes information to see if this is a good match up for us to really run with this partnership, this joint venture. And I'm agreeing that it's mine. And I'm not going to share what you share with me. That's your proprietary information. And likewise, you're going to agree not to share what's my proprietary information. And it outlines. Go ahead.

Candice Coppola (20:10.414)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (20:21.582)

Is yeah, No, I was just thinking is there Anything because the client is the person in between right? So the client's sign it signing the vendor agreements and then the vendors just come together and work together So we don't necessarily have agreements between ourselves. So how does that all work or does it work at all?

Nicole (20:42.788)

Yeah, so having the joint venture agreement in place is really key for everybody that's going to be working on the event. So that's where, so if things are in works now, we've agreed, the main participants have agreed, maybe NDAs have been signed, but now we're bringing in kind of ancillary other professionals. That's where you have them sign kind of maybe a joint venture agreement about their participation in whatever the event that's going to be hosted.

is going to entail and that includes confidentiality language in there. Same thing that covers there's going to be proprietary information that's a flow of information from multiple people who are participating in this joint venture and you're agreeing not to run with it and use it for your own commercial purposes. So there's kind of levels and tiers of making sure it's all covered in contracts.

Candice Coppola (21:23.822)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (21:28.942)

Right. And to, I guess, keep going in that conversation, when for the client that you reference, that situation where somebody takes from you, and this could be a colleague that you know, maybe inadvertently or maliciously, or it could be a stranger on the internet, and it happens all the time. They copy and paste your website, and then they use it for their stuff, which is so annoying. And you need to get a lawyer involved to get it removed, and that's, we know that.

But like, what, is there anything we should be doing to protect our intellectual property from theft before it even happens? Anything smart that we should do to protect ourselves?

Nicole (22:11.588)

Yeah, so with your trademark, so that could be your brand name, your logo, if you've got a slogan, some sort of tagline. Really exploring trademark registration. Here in the United States, that means you're protected if you reach registration in all 50 states. And you can stop use even in states that you may not have made sales. We are a first to use jurisdiction. So that means maybe you've launched under a brand name that has become your trademark.

And you have trademark rights in the geographical location that you're doing business in. But.

If you haven't registered, I would highly, highly encourage you to explore registration because it's really trademark registration with teeth. It gives you the right to go into federal court and be able to obtain attorney's fees and damages for those infringers, those copycats. And like I said, it gives you the ability to stop infringers across all 50 states. It also makes the process easier if you have international clients and you want to expand into other countries, be it Canada or the UK or Australia or the European Union. It streamlines the process of it to be able to expand.

and register in those other countries as well. With trademark registration, I do typically recommend that people register as soon as they have something that they've got proof of concept and they're really building the brand registering sooner rather than later. With copyrights, it's similar in that you have copyright rights from the moment that you create that artistic form of expression. So it really comes down to blog posts or like this podcast recording or...

If you're drafting a course outline, you have copyright rights. A lot of my clients do wait until they have infringement pop up before they move forward with copyright rights and actually formally registering it. Some people will run out and register right away. But the difference is that with copyright rights, if you're making substantive changes, so if you're updating things frequently to keep up with the times and redoing your course modules and things, then you're having to reapply. It's not just, you know, if you're making tweaks to grammar and...

Candice Coppola (24:12.142)

Right, yeah.

Nicole (24:12.676)

those types of things, it kind of falls within the purview of the registration. And patents, not as frequent in the wedding space, obviously, but I mean, I've seen some wedding professionals that have launched patents based on software and things. So it is something to explore.

Candice Coppola (24:26.478)

Yeah. yeah. I mean, there's lots of opportunities, lots of innovation and nobody to innovate than a wedding pro to innovate in the industry and to create something. You had mentioned NDAs and I'd love to spend just a few minutes here talking about NDAs and maybe why they're really important to have when we think about the networking relationships that we're building with other wedding vendors.

Nicole (24:35.812)

Mm -hmm.

Nicole (24:52.932)

Mm -hmm. Yeah, so non -disclosure agreements, I think, are very underutilized. And I've seen an uptick in use recently of actually good non -disclosure agreements. People have kind of made them part of their process in terms of speaking with potential investors, in terms of speaking with potential collaborators. And it really does kind of

streamline things in terms of, hey, we're coming into conversations on a level playing field. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. And if we decide not to move forward with this business venture, whatever it may be, like we're going to go our separate ways and not have to worry about you running with my intellectual property and me running with yours.

Candice Coppola (25:32.338)

Hmm. And so such a good thing to have in, in, as you're starting to begin talks and relationships around any ideas that you might have, whether it's an event you want to do a styled shoot, something in your business, signing an NDA makes a lot of sense. Are the NDAs we sign exclusive to the project or the discussion we're having or

Can there be like an NDA, let's say you and I decide that we're gonna be working together for the long term and I say, hey, listen, I just would love it if we can each sign NDAs for each other's businesses. This is just covering our general intellectual property, ideas we share, et cetera.

Nicole (26:13.54)

So it depends on such a lawyerly answer. It depends. It depends on kind of where things are going, right? Because typically, nondisclosure agreements are geared toward specific projects or specific business ventures in terms of discussions about potentially running with specific ventures or projects. And they're time bound. So anywhere between 1 to 10 years, the sweet spot tends to be 2 to 5 years.

Candice Coppola (26:15.918)

Hehehehehe

Nicole (26:42.212)

It's important to know that you can't register ideas as intellectual property. There has to be some sort of physical manifestation. And so that's where the NDA is helpful, because maybe you're percolating on some of these ideas and you haven't really launched them. So if you share some of that, then it does protect you from that potential collaborator running with the idea, like in my example at the beginning of our chat.

Candice Coppola (27:05.102)

Right.

Nicole (27:06.852)

If you are thinking long -term projects like, hey, we're actually going to be starting a business together, and we know we're past the point of talks, like this is something we're running with, then you can incorporate some of those confidentiality provisions into your actual contract, the joint venture agreement. So yeah, it's one of those. It kind of depends on where you are in the process. Mm -hmm.

Candice Coppola (27:24.398)

Yeah, it depends on the situation, but those are two great options to consider and somebody listening can probably understand very clearly which option makes sense for them at this stage. Maybe we need to start normalizing NDAs being exchanged in business on a daily basis as we work together and to facilitate each other's goals and our own ends, just normalizing sending over an NDA and signing that in relation to whatever it is you're going to be discussing to protect.

Nicole (27:40.932)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (27:53.23)

both of yourselves from any misdoings. I feel like that's a conversation we need to keep having, at least in our industry.

Nicole (28:02.148)

Yeah, no, great. I mean, in terms of masterminds or group coaching programs or where there's a container of multiple business owners and there's going to be this free flow exchange of ideas, I think it's really important to have something in writing and that that's going to be respected. And there's consequences if it's not.

Candice Coppola (28:08.398)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (28:12.942)

yeah, yeah, 100%. I have a mastermind agreement. When you join my mastermind, we talk about your intellectual property and my intellectual property and the exchange of information within. And even so you can't even take screenshots of things and share them of other people's posts and stuff because it's none of your business and you shouldn't be sharing those things.

Nicole (28:38.02)

Yep.

Candice Coppola (28:38.222)

So it's important to have those agreements. You don't realize how important those clauses are and how important an agreement is until, again, somebody shares something that you shared publicly, whether maliciously or not. And then there's ramifications for that on your end, whether it upsets someone, a client sees it, somebody takes your idea. It's difficult. It's an unfortunate part of owning a business is like,

the legal side and having to figure all this stuff out. Because they teach that to you in school, Nicole, but they did not teach any of this to us. We're just making it up as we go along and listening to podcasts to try to figure it out.

Nicole (29:23.716)

Yeah, and I think that we all come into business.

Cause we're serving from our heart, right? We found something that we're passionate about and we're really doing what we love. And our brain doesn't switch to not everybody is going to have the best intentions for us. I mean, maybe some of us are guarded and that's always on our thought process, but a lot of business owners, that's not kind of the thing that's the forefront of their mind. And so that's where kind of reframing things again, like we're just respecting boundaries. We're setting expectations and kind of putting that at the forefront of our minds in every relationship going forward in business, I think is really important.

Candice Coppola (29:29.166)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (29:47.694)

Yes.

Candice Coppola (29:53.486)

Yeah, super important, just like you would with your couples. And that's what your contract is there to do when you're serving a couple. The same can be said when you're working with other vendors. I guess my last scenario here that a lot of wedding professionals will find themselves in is the legal implications, if any, of referrals and recommendations. Because our industry is so referral driven, and we want our friends and people who

Nicole (30:16.342)

Mm -hmm.

Candice Coppola (30:21.838)

are great business owners to be a part of the weddings that we're a part of. A wedding is such a interesting dynamic working on a wedding together. You want to be surrounded by the right people for your couple or the right partner. So we make recommendations constantly, especially planners. But is there anything that we need to consider when making those referrals and recommendations? And are there any legal implications that can come back to bite us?

Nicole (30:47.78)

Yeah, so I think there's things to consider from the person that you're providing the referrals to's perspective and also your referral partner's perspective. So with the people that you're providing referrals to, it's really important to be clear that while you're kind of making the referral and the introduction, you're not making any guarantees about the experience. Their experience is their experience with this referral partner. It's not the experience with your business. And just being very clear that that third party and that transaction, whatever it may be, photographer,

or flowers or whatever aspect of the event that they're working with them for.

it's independent of you because you can't guarantee no matter how close your working relationship with that referral partner is, no matter how amazing past experiences have been, life's life. And they could have a death in the family that disrupts things. They could have things going on in the business that make the experience less than stellar for the person that you referred. So being very clear, and I would say in writing, even if it's just in your introduction email that says, hey, I'm introducing you to so -and -so.

I've had wonderful relationships and worked with them before. This is going to be a separate experience, so circle back with me if you need additional referrals. But any questions, anything needs to be directed toward that referral partner is really, really key. From the perspective of the referral partner, I have a lot of business owners that enter into referral agreements, and they actually make it a formal written contract.

One thing that I do caution people about is it's akin to like an affiliate relationship, right? Because especially if you're getting payment from the referral, the Federal Trade Commission has a say in how that's handled and how you're marketing and how you're advertising and being very clear that you're gonna get a cut if there's a referral and they become a paying client and you're gonna see money back, you have to be very clear that, hey, like.

Nicole (32:43.044)

we're referral partners, I'm gonna receive a cut of the payment that you make to them. And so that's where having the written contract that establishes those expectations so you know exactly what you need to be sharing and who you need to be sharing it with is important.

Candice Coppola (32:55.47)

fascinating and obviously that should be in your client agreement and under so they understand the relationships that you have and also if you if you refer but you don't receive any commissions for those referrals I think that's something to note in terms of the relationships you have it could make your you know the person who's hiring you be like okay so all the referrals there's no she has no skin in the game.

She's just making the best recommendations, which is always nice. I feel like that ups your trust a little bit. Not that getting a commission should degrade your trust, but there is that question of, well, if you're getting commission, are you making the suggestion because it's in my best interest or because it's in your best interest? And that's where the Federal Trade Commission has stepped in, especially over like the last 10 years. And it's been like, because all of us influencers, right, we're getting paid to do stuff. And they're like, but you're not telling people that.

Nicole (33:38.211)

Yes.

Candice Coppola (33:48.174)

You're getting paid to recommend this serum. So like you need to make sure that it's very clear if you're being paid or you receive a commission that it's very clear that people know that.

Nicole (33:56.58)

Yep.

Well, and payment doesn't have to be an actual commission, right? It could be discounts for products. It could be free product. It could be, there's all sorts of different things that have value that you really should be disclosing to make that relationship as transparent as possible. And I find that a lot of clients and customers actually appreciate that transparency. I think in that, the age of kind of look at me marketing and the influencer, and I think that people are kind of,

sick of being sold to. So when somebody is transparent and they're telling them what's going on from the get -go, that level of trust, I think, is established. So just carrying that with you in your own business and how would you want to be marketed to, I think, is really important.

Candice Coppola (34:41.582)

Yeah. All right. I have one other question and this isn't on our list of questions. I'd just love to hear your hot take because it's been obviously something that people have been discussing quite a bit and in the wedding industry especially, which is non -competes and the changes that we're seeing at least in the United States were around non -compete agreements. I don't know if you're familiar, Nicole, with this story, but we had a wedding gown designer who...

Nicole (34:46.02)

Hahaha!

Nicole (34:56.036)

Mm -hmm.

Candice Coppola (35:10.382)

decided to leave the company of which her name and brand was under and because of the non -competes she signed, she actually wasn't legally able to use, take her name, her physical birth name with her. And so it turned into a very difficult situation. And I think it shined a huge light on non -competes. She's not the only person, but there's been several celebrities and well -known figures who've experienced a similar fate.

And so what say you, anything in the wedding industry that we should be thinking about when it comes to non -competes and the changes that are being made around them?

Nicole (35:47.46)

Yeah, so in the US, non -competes are effectively banned now. I mean, it's a no -go. The FTC issued the ruling. It's going to become law. I mean, it's going to be to the point of where employers, consultants, anybody who had non -compete agreements in any of their contracts are going to have to literally reach out to the people they contracted with and say, hey, my non -compute is no longer valid. And so there's going to be limited carve -outs where certain

if you're selling a business and there's specific carve outs, but overall, non -compete are a thing of the past. And this is something that I've started sharing with my clients and letting them know that I was never a huge proponent of having them in contracts to begin with. I have reviewed many contracts where they have non -compete language in them and we're just striking it out because it's not, especially if you're a freelancer or a consultant, non -compete language is not.

For you, that's where non -disclosure agreements are very beneficial. But yes, it doesn't matter the industry. It doesn't matter if it's paid, unpaid, if it's volunteer work, consultant, employee, they're banned. So it's something to definitely keep on your radar and start looking at your contracts. And if you've got non -compete language, it's time to get in with your attorney and have a little bit of a chat about where to go from here now.

Candice Coppola (36:59.95)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (37:04.75)

Mm -hmm. Yeah. And I think this even, as we sort of, I guess, maybe put a bow on our conversation and wrap things up, it illuminates the power of nondisclosure agreements and agreements that you create with other businesses that you're working with, protecting your intellectual property. Because in my mind, a non -compete is it's like, I'm not necessarily threatened by you competing.

but I don't want you doing it with all of my intellectual property and the resources that I've given you that actually belong to me that I've given you access to. And so the non -compete to me was always about protecting your own intellectual property. And if you do that, then there's really, you really, the non -compete, there's no need for a non -compete. But when you look at somebody like what happened to Haley Page, like, and her story,

That is where non -competes can become so damaging and so dangerous. I can't imagine what it's like to have your name no longer your name. So, I mean, it's just an interesting case and it'll be curious to see how that continues to pan out, but it is definitely going to affect us in the wedding industry as business owners.

Nicole (38:22.468)

Yeah, and I think it kind of shines a light also on how important it is to understand your contracts, like really sit down and understand what's in them, understand how you're protecting your intellectual property. If you're taking the right steps, whether it's getting things registered, keeping things in specific password protected portals who has access to that information, and just kind of creating some sort of standard operating procedure in terms of how you handle your intellectual property, which.

Candice Coppola (38:28.078)

Mm -hmm. Mm -hmm.

Nicole (38:50.916)

really to me is one of the most valuable assets as business owners we have is our intellectual property. So if nothing else is taken away from this interview, that's kind of my call to action.

Candice Coppola (38:55.182)

Yeah. Yeah.

Candice Coppola (39:01.358)

Yeah, that's a big one. Yeah, it's a big one. I wonder why I would love to encourage anyone listening to, first of all, get an attorney if you don't have one and to call your attorney and ask them if they can explain your contract to you and to walk you through the different components of it so that you can be a knowledgeable business owner who understands the legal agreement you're putting in front of your clients. And then any of the legal agreements that we have talked about today.

Nicole (39:18.596)

Yes.

Candice Coppola (39:30.446)

go and learn it from your attorney. I'm sure they would be more than happy to teach you and to explain things to you so that you fully understand. And then also just call your attorney when you have questions rather than calling them when you have problems. I feel like if you call them with questions and you just pay to have your questions answered and you understand and you're fully educated as to how things work, you may find that you have to call them for

problems less because you're protected, you understand your contract, you have a fair understanding of the laws that relates to it, and you can move in business the right way.

Nicole (40:11.876)

100%. I just had this happen with a client actually who had launched a course that was tied to kind of a coaching, a group coaching program. And she had a client who signed up and binged all the course materials and then went out the next week and soft launched her own, her own course that was essentially everything taken from, and we had a solid contract. So literally I had to just put together a letter that says, hi.

Candice Coppola (40:30.606)

huh.

Nicole (40:39.748)

I'm legal counsel and you sign this contract and here's your name and here's the date you signed. We've got the IP address you signed from, because we used an electronic signature provider. This says you can't do this. And my client's willing not to take you to court and chase damages as long as you're going to sign this other settlement agreement that says everything's coming down and we're no longer going to be part of the course and we're out of the coaching. And it was handled very, very quickly because when you have that legal backbone that you've built, that solid foundation, it's so much easier to handle.

Candice Coppola (41:03.214)

Yeah. Mm -hmm.

Nicole (41:09.124)

when you know the shit hits the fan.

Candice Coppola (41:09.166)

yeah.

100%. Yeah. And you also have to be willing to, and this is something that they don't tell you. And by they, I don't mean attorneys. I just mean like the business world or, you know, your Facebook group of how to do something in your business. They don't tell you. When you have a legal agreement, like you have to be prepared to enforce the legal agreement that you're making people sign. It's not, I mean, it is just a piece of paper and people can do as they please. And they disregard legal agreements all the time.

Nicole (41:30.212)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (41:40.75)

And as a business owner, this is something that you have to get the courage to understand, which is, is you have to be willing to go the next step with someone if they violate the terms of your agreement. And that is hard and it's frustrating. And you can, you're going to get angry and it's going to make you sad. And it might make you emotional because it can feel really difficult. It's going to cost you money.

There's nothing pleasant about it. Really, truly, there's literally nothing pleasant about it. But you have to be willing to go the distance.

Nicole (42:08.196)

Yes.

Nicole (42:13.988)

100%. And there's other circumstances where you may make a calculated business decision to say, hey, if I have a no refund provision and I just have this problem client that to me, my peace of mind is priceless and I'm just going to let them go and here's your refund because it's not enough for me to worry about. Then you make that decision. But it's knowing that you have that solid legal foundation to fall back on and you've got the ability to really stand firm. And I think that really says something.

Candice Coppola (42:30.03)

Right.

Candice Coppola (42:34.734)

Yeah.

Nicole (42:40.644)

outwardly too. Like you're putting that out into the universe. And I think that calls in clients and customers that are going to respect those boundaries a lot more as well.

Candice Coppola (42:43.342)

Mm -hmm.

Candice Coppola (42:47.982)

Absolutely, or they're going to have to get a letter from Nicole.

Nicole (42:51.524)

Yeah.

Candice Coppola (42:53.806)

which nobody likes receiving by the way and that's what's so nice about having an attorney. I love a good fight like I like I love like a good argument. I love to like you know, I can be aggressive sometimes so I don't mind like getting in someone's inbox and be like you're copying me. You need to remove this immediately, but there is also nothing better than having your attorney handle it for you and just removing yourself from the situation. The emotion of it the angst of it and having someone do it on your behalf because nobody wants to get in a letter from an attorney.

Nicole (43:23.076)

No.

Candice Coppola (43:23.246)

Literally, nobody does. I mean, you see that thing come in, you're like, no. You want to make it go away as soon as possible. And that's why lawyers can be so effective in big and small in big and small situations where you might need legal counsel. Nicole, I would love to know because you have a template shop, right?

Nicole (43:40.548)

100%.

Mm -hmm. I do.

Candice Coppola (43:44.366)

Yeah. Do you have an NDA template that our listeners can go and purchase and have on hand to just whip out without shame whenever they need someone to sign an NDA?

Nicole (43:56.74)

I do. I have a non -disclosure agreement in the legal shop that is easily customizable for your specific business. It'll take you all of 15 minutes to get all the information in there and launch it through. I always recommend an email signature provider like Dropbox Sign or whatever you use, but I think that's the best way to track signatures versus unless you're going to hand it to them and have them actually wet sign in person, but most people do business online. So, but yeah.

Candice Coppola (44:19.534)

Yeah. No, which is like, banks do that. We don't do that anymore. That's like the bank makes you come down and sign papers. We don't, we don't do that anymore. All right. So you guys are going to go to Nicole's shop and you're going to pick up her NDA agreement, which is going to help you in a variety of situations that we have talked about ones that we haven't talked about.

Nicole (44:27.94)

Exactly.

Candice Coppola (44:41.422)

And please make sure you're protecting your intellectual property. You're protecting your business. You have an attorney. If you don't have an attorney, you can certainly reach out to Nicole and see if she's somebody who can help represent your business. I'm sure there's things about where she's licensed and where you're located and all that kind of fun stuff. However, it's always worth reaching out to somebody that you know and like and trust. And that is definitely Nicole. Nicole, thank you so much.

for joining us today. I would love for you to share where listeners can connect with you outside of the podcast.

Nicole (45:12.868)

Yeah, so I am on LinkedIn a lot of the time. So I'm there, Nicole Sherry -Oden. I'm on Instagram, Legal Templates and More, which is my legal shop, or Nicole Sherry -Oden Law, which is my law firm. Same thing for Facebook. And I'm also on Pinterest, which has been a lot of fun for the legal shop, and that's Legal Templates and More.

Candice Coppola (45:32.334)

totally forgot to share with our listeners that that is essentially how I came across Nicole was we are both diehard Pinterest pinners and we use something called Tailwind and we're in some of the same Tailwind communities where you can take one of your pins, pin it to the community and then other community members will go ahead and pin it for you as an act of service and also as a way to fill up.

the numbers they need to fill up so they can keep putting their pins in there. It's the whole thing. Anyway, that's how I came across Nicole, and we have been pinning each other's content for probably two years now. And I came across this blog post that she wrote on tailwind about networking and the legal implications. And I was like, I have got to have her on the podcast to talk about this.

So also go and check out her Pinterest game because she's great at blogging, she's great at Pinterest, and you've heard me say how important these two things are in your business. And Nicole and I are living proof that Pinterest and blogging work. Big time. They work big time. Yes. All right, I'll link to all of this in the show notes. Nicole, thank you so much for your time today.

Nicole (46:30.372)

Yes. 100%.

Nicole (46:39.844)

Thanks for having me. This was so fun.

Candice Coppola (46:44.974)

Hey, let me hit stop. Yay!

Thanks for tuning into today’s episode of The Power in Purpose Podcast. I want to know– what was your biggest takeaway? Head to my Instagram to join the conversation!

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Is your brand experience attracting and repelling the right people? 🤔🤔🤔🤔

Branding and client experience are important as a wedding pro, and today, we are talking about where the two meet! 

In this episode, I’m chatting with Ally Baur of @allybdesigns all about the elements of brand experience, the role of branding in attracting ideal clients, the impact of templates on brand consistency, and the significance of customer service in the wedding industry. 

It’s an episode you’re gonna want to listen to if you want make sure your brand and brand experience is up to snuff.

Comment 133 below and I’ll DM you a direct link to listen! 

#powerinpurposepodcast #thepowerinpurposepodcast #brandidentity #brandexperience #weddingindustry #weddingpro #weddingpros #candicdcoppola #weddingproinsiders #clientexperience #brandstrategy #brandingtips
Today was a GREAT day to chop off all my hair. This is your sign to shed anything that’s not serving you. ✨

Special thanks to @naomihairsyou and @ronavictoriaa_ 🥰😍

#hairtransformation #hairchop #shorthair #bluntbob #blondebob #candicecoppola #hairbeforeandafter #barbados #summerhairgoals #chopoffyourhair
Can you get sued for networking? How should you be LEGALLY protecting yourself while building relationships within the wedding industry?

This is an interesting question we are exploring and answering in the latest episode of The Power in Purpose Podcast! My guest is attorney @nicolecheriodenlaw and she’s breaking down the steps you need to take to make sure you’re protecting your biz.

👇🏻 Comment the term LEGAL below and I’ll DM you a link this episode! 

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