By ASCP Staff
You’re an esthetician. You spend all day in your treatment room, communicating one-on-one with your clients. You love the personal interaction. You love the intimacy and the peaceful feel of your space. No wonder the thought of networking with total strangers may
strike fear in your heart. If you think you are the only esthetician who has ever felt this way, you are mistaken. You’re just like the overwhelming majority of esties who would rather endure a root canal than attend a networking event.
In your mind, you picture walking into a networking event, which may be held by your local chamber of commerce or might be a grand opening of a business down the street. When you enter, you see people everywhere. They are laughing, talking, giving out business cards, and having a grand time. You suddenly feel sick to your stomach. Can you do this? You have your business cards in hand, and you know that you will meet many potential clients, but suddenly, you want to turn around and head home.
Take a deep breath. When you think of networking, you may conjure up visions of awkward, unnatural conversations. You envision being a wallflower that no one approaches or talks to. If this is how you feel, it’s time to change your perspective. Networking can be a natural, easy, and even (gasp) fun experience.
Why Should I Network?
The real purpose of networking is the act of connecting. It doesn’t have to cause panic attacks, or make you feel pressured. You are just looking to make connections with people who may be useful to you and you to them.
If you think about it, you network every day without realizing it. Your skin care clients are all different people with different jobs. They might be a fashion designer, a bank teller, or own a hair salon. If one or your clients is looking for a new hairstylist, give them the name of your other client who owns the salon. And guess what? You just successfully networked!
A few misconceptions about networking are: You have to make meaningless small talk with a lot of people; you have to aggressively hand out business cards to everyone you encounter; you have to hard sell your skin care services to total strangers to network successfully.
Now, doesn’t that sound easy? Once you change your perspective, you’re ready for the next step.
It’s Not All About You
Well, actually it is about sharing the skin care services you provide and where you work to help grow your business. But the first step to accomplish that is to connect and be helpful to others. This will help you in the long run. When you focus on helping others, it takes the pressure off you, and everything changes. What are some connections you can make that will benefit others? Who can you introduce to your clients that may start a valuable business relationship? If your client is looking for a real estate agent, do you know of one you can recommend? If your nail professional is looking for a good family physician, you could recommend your doctor. Ask your clients to let that person or business know you referred them. Helping your clients with these connections will generate their loyalty to you and will increase reciprocal referrals from other businesses.
Don’t Use the Dreaded Elevator Pitch
Have you ever met someone that immediately launches into a detailed, memorized elevator pitch? Please, please don’t do this when you first meet someone: “Hi, I’m Louise! I’m an esthetician who specializes in antiaging and acne services for busy career women looking to improve their skin. I work at Spa-La-La on 6th and Vine.”
How would you react to that elevator speech? It sounds contrived and practiced, and is a total turn off!
Keep it simple and natural. Instead, try this, “Hi, I’m Louise and I’m an esthetician. I was noticing that you have such smooth skin. What skin care products do you use?” Now you have begun a conversation and no matter what their response is, you have a chance to talk about skin care and share with them some of the skin care services you offer. It’s a real dialog, rather than just spitting out a rehearsed pitch that may be awkward for them to respond to.
You’re Not Alone
You may think you’re the only one in the room who is feeling anxious about networking but rest assured that at least half the people in the room are feeling just like you. It can help if you focus on rescuing others that seem to be feeling even more anxious than you.
Look for someone who is standing alone and seems to be sort of lost. Just walk right up to them and say, “What a great place to people-watch. What brought you here tonight?” Or, “This is my first networking event. Do you have any words of wisdom for me?”
Making a Smooth Exit
When you’re networking, there is always the chance you’ll be cornered by someone who wants to tell you their entire life story and will not shut up or let you get a word in edgewise. The grade-school teacher was friendly when you introduced yourself, but after 20 minutes of listening to her complain about her students and showing no interest in you being in the skin care profession, it’s time to move on.
To make a smooth exit and not ruffle any feathers, make it seem you are doing the other person a favor. Try saying, “Well, I don’t want to keep you from meeting more people. It was great talking to you!” Then walk away. It’s that simple!
Network Every Day
Networking can be a daily habit. It doesn’t have to only happen at a formal networking event. You can strike up a conversation in line at the grocery store or tell a client about the wonderful new restaurant around the corner. It can mean getting to know people at your gym or where you volunteer at a local nonprofit. It can be chatting up the other parents at your daughter’s ballet class.
The more you network, the easier it becomes. The more connections you make and the more you help people, the more you will attract business of your own.
12 Conversation Starters
- If you get stuck and can’t think of anything to say, here are a dozen great conversation-starters.
- Where do you work?
- What was your first job?
- What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
- What’s the best job you’ve ever had?
- What would be your absolute dream job?
- What is your favorite restaurant?
- How do you define success?
- What qualities do you look for in an employee/employer?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- Have you ever had a facial?
- Where were you born?
- Do you have any children/pets?