Build Your Business by Building a Professional Network
By ASCP Staff
There's no denying the power a strong professional network can have over your career success. Whether you work for an employer, own your own spa or salon, or are an independent esthetician renting a suite, networking with like-minded colleagues will help you develop new ideas, stay on top of the latest trends in skin care, and lead to referral opportunities.
To become successful in skin care, there are tricks and techniques you should instantly apply to your business and networking is one of them. Networking is a never-outdated technique in any profession. It is a great business activity where two parties can gain mutual benefits and develop long-term relationships. Networking in the beauty sector allows you access to opportunities you might be unable to find on your own, can keep you up to date on the latest skin care trends, and lead to client referrals. When networking is done well and consistently, it will provide a competitive edge throughout your career in the beauty industry.
How to become effective at networking
Look for the right people.
Your network should include anyone who can help you grow professionally. It can include past and present coworkers, bosses, colleagues from beauty industry associations, or alumni from your skin care school. It can also include your Facebook friends and LinkedIn colleagues. Since you are in the beauty industry, you will want to attend as many beauty networking events as possible. These events can include trade shows, conferences, or an educational workshop. Many of these events will have ample opportunities to network and collaborate with other estheticians, product manufacturers, and successful spa owners.
Your local chamber of commerce can also be a good resource. The chamber’s website lists upcoming events. Making those face-to-face connections is a great way to meet people and get more knowledge about who they are and what they do.
You can look for a career-centered networking group that limits the number and kinds of professionals who are allowed to join. Your ideal group may include other estheticians, hairstylists and barbers, nail technicians, massage therapists, and other beauty professionals. The idea is to meet on a regular basis to let them know the skin care services you offer, where your business is located and what kind of clients you’re looking for. They will share the same information with you, so you’re helping each other out. They may have clients looking for an esthetician. You may have clients looking for a massage therapist. It can be a very reciprocal relationship.
Getting to know your local community and connecting with other beauty professionals in your area is another option. Google Maps can help you identify like-minded businesses. Connect with the professionals via email or social media to arrange a time to meet and discuss your respective businesses and share collaborative ideas.
Mix and mingle.
When you attend a networking event, you are there to network. Don’t be a wallflower! Remember, you want to make quality contacts, which means you don’t just walk around frantically handing out your business cards to anyone and everyone. The best course of action is to start a conversation with someone, ask about their business and their background, and if it’s a good fit, ask for their business card and ask if they would like yours. You’ll find that many of the participants have the same goals you do and will be glad to exchange business cards.
Another option for a networking hub is Meetup (meetup.com), which draws individuals together online with the goal of arranging in-person local events based on what you’re interested in. At last count, more than 140,000 Meetup groups garner more than 2 million RSVPs to their events every month! You can also Google beauty events in your area or check out Eventbrite for a great source for affordable (and sometimes free) tickets to beauty events.
If you’re a bit shy about in-person networking, get your feet wet with online industry forums. It’s not as personal but casts a much wider net. There are a couple of social sites, like SkinCareProfessionals.com and EstheticianConnection.com, that are specific to professional estheticians. They allow users to engage in conversations with others in the profession, post and comment on each other’s pictures/work, read blogs, join subgroups, and read industry-related news. Joining moderated Facebook groups is also a way to connect with fellow professionals online.
Expand your horizons.
When you think of networking, you may only think of those in the skin care industry. Expand your horizons and look for other networking opportunities, such as geography. For example, if your spa or suite is located in or near a strip mall, you might partner with other businesses in the mall to promote each other’s services. You can work with these businesses to cross-merchandise items or services. Maybe you can offer your clients a treat from the coffee shop next door after their microdermabrasion, and coffee shop customers can enter a drawing for a complimentary facial from you. It’s a great way to cross-promote.
It’s never too early or too late.
These tips will help to make your efforts successful and help you build relationships and networks. A good, reliable network can bring in new clients, potential partners, business and career opportunities, and seasoned mentors. It's never too early—or too late—to invest some time and energy in your network. The best way to improve your networking skills is to put yourself out there and give it a try.
How do I start a conversation when I’m networking?
If you don’t know what to say when meeting new contacts, ask them about themselves. Focus on their business and the services they provide. Ask where they received their skin care training and how long they’ve been in business. People love to talk about themselves, and it opens the door for further topics.
After the networking event, then what?
Follow up the next day with a phone call or text, or invite a new contact out for a cup of coffee. Focus on the people you really connected with.
Any other networking tips?
Avoid jargon with contacts you meet who aren’t in the skin care industry. It’s fine to say, “I’m an esthetician, and I specialize in acne treatments.” However, saying, “I’m certified in microneedling, TCAs and Jessner’s” may be confusing and meaningless to people who don’t live in your esthetic world. Also, be careful of your time. Some people only want to sell you something and aren’t interested in developing a mutually beneficial relationship. Avoid them and avoid being one of them.