The Importance of Networking in the Spa Industry and How to Cultivate Connections

Does the word “networking” make your face pucker up like you just bit into a lemon? 

You’re not alone in that feeling, but the good news is, if you learn to network the fun way, not only will you look forward and anticipate networking opportunities, but you’ll actually see beneficial results. 

Now, if your idea of networking is going to boring events and passing out business card after business card, this is exactly the kind of networking I won’t be discussing today. Instead, I’m going to cover how to network in a way that is both fun, worth your time and energy, and actually helps you further your aesthetic career. 
And if you thinking I’m just blowing steam, I’ll let you in on my this aspect of my business: I actually consider my network to be my greatest asset.  
I started building and maintaining a strong network of industry professionals from the time I graduated aesthetics school, and I can trace back new clients, job offers, speaking opportunities, and even the success of my consulting business to connections that I made through my network.  
Those relationships that have been created, developed, and nourished over the years have been so valuable to me which is why I feel so strongly and passionately about the importance of building your network.  

So, how can you start developing your own network and expand your professional opportunities? Let’s start with the why. 

Why Networking Within the Spa Industry is So Important

Regardless of whether you’re a spa owner, solo aesthetician, or you work for a spa, the one thing that is universal among every aesthetic expert is that we need a strong network to truly thrive in our careers.
Now something I want to distinguish is that, I’m referring specifically to face-to-face networking because while networking through online communities and platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook can also be very beneficial, nothing beats getting to know someone in person and gaining a clear understanding of how they can fit into your network. 
For example, when you’re talking with someone online, your conversation is likely to only go so far, but when you meet someone in a small, personalized setting, you’re better able to forge a true professional relationship where you can get a feel for how your connection with this person will better serve your clients, grow your business, and vice versa.  
Also, by attending in-person events you’ll not only get your name on the map, but your company’s as well, and you’ll be making lasting impressions on individuals, which helps others remember who you are, what you do, and how you can be of service to those that they work with.  
By putting your business, and yourself out there, you are attaching a face to the name. However, there’s one important consideration you have to keep in mind when it comes to successful networking, which is carefully selecting which networking opportunities to take part in to maximize your time.

How To Participate in Networking Events and Expand Your Professional Opportunities

Yes, networking is a time and money investment - totally worth it - but you just want to make sure that you’re choosing events that are a good fit.  

Events where you can provide value to the others there and, of course, they can provide value to you.  
When you’re looking for networking opportunities, a few things to factor into your decision in attending include the potential for building referral relationships, if there will be a learning component to the meeting, and whether you’ll have the opportunity to make connections with leaders in your industry or local community. 
For example, attending an event with other professionals who are not necessarily aestheticians, but involved in other aspects of the industry, such as hair stylists, nail technicians, plastic surgeons, and cosmetic nurses can provide a plethora of referral or partnership opportunities for your business. 
In these types of referral or preferred partnerships, each of you brings your own customers to the table, which allows for an expanded client base, and it makes you more valuable to the clients you currently serve because they know they can turn to you for a reliable and high-quality references on other aesthetic services they might be interested in. It’s a win-win. 
And when it comes to attending networking events with a learning component, this factor helps with staying informed on larger-scope industry trends as well as gleaning insights on other niche fields within the aesthetic industry that you may be able to cater to your own business. 
In addition to staying up-to-date with the teachings of your own industry, you’ll also have the chance to meet and create relationships with industry leaders, who are most likely leading the teaching portions of these events, and who have their own vast network. 
Not sure where to even begin to find an event to attend?  
I would start off with a simple google search of networking events in your area. Sites like MeetUp and Eventbrite will allow you to search for events in your area, too. And don’t forget about your local chamber of commerce or business networking groups like BNI.  

How to Handle a Case of Networking Nerves

So, now that you know how to go about finding networking events that are a good fit for you and your business goals, it’s time to focus on making sure you’re putting your best foot forward, which may seem impossible if you suffer from networking nerves. 
Listen, unless you’re a total extrovert and love networking, chances are networking isn’t something you get super excited about, so here’s a few tips to help keep your nerves in check:

  • Put your best foot forward by dressing in something that’s both comfortable and flattering. 

No need to get overly business-y. Most of us in the aesthetic industry aren’t pant suits or pencil skirt wearers, so no need to dress like that at a networking event. The more uncomfortable you feel, the more uncomfortable you’ll look. 

  • Come to the event with a colleague or someone else you think the event would pertain to. 

Just remember not to stick to them like glue all night, this can simply be a way to reduce nerves when you know you have someone to enter the event with and sit next to, but don’t forget to talk to other people, that’s what you’re there for. 

  • Have some business cards in an easy-to-reach place in your bag. 

Don’t feel like you have to hand them out, but someone might ask for your card and it’s nice to not have to fumble around trying to frantically find one. 

  • Keep a drink on hand, not necessarily an alcoholic one, water works best actually. 

This helps with giving your hands something to do, it naturally creates a more casual and inviting body language, and you don’t have to worry about getting dry mouth from nerves.  

  • Find events that fit a setting you’ll feel comfortable in. 

Does being in a huge conference-style room freak you out? Don’t go to events like that yet. Find events at smaller settings, like maybe at a local restaurant or a cool, intimate event space. (And if you can’t find events you think you would be interested in, this might be a good chance to explore hosting a networking event of your own.)

  • And of course, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re interesting to talk to and that this is just getting to know people. 

No big deal and no pressure for anything to come out of it, just see how it goes.  Everyone is there for the same reason - to get to know others in the industry so they can expand their network too. 

Now let’s talk about how you turn a networking event into a success after the fact:

  • You’ll want to connect with the organization or person who hosted the event and thank them for a wonderful opportunity to learn and meet others in the field. A thank you note goes a long way and after all the time and effort that went into planning an event, your note will absolutely be appreciated.  
  • Send a follow-up note to anyone you had a meaningful interaction with. Let them know you enjoyed getting to meet them, add in an anecdote about your conversation, or arrange a follow up to a potential opportunity you discussed.  This can be done via email and be sure to connect with them via LinkedIn as well so you have a face to go with the name.  
  • For anyone you may have only briefly connected with, link up with them on social media and send them a message, tweet, or comment mentioning how it was great to meet them. Even if you didn’t get a chance to talk in-depth at the event, you now have common ground and a place to start with striking up a conversation with them later.

Remember, the networking you do now is laying the foundation for future success, just like any non-business friendship or relationship, you have to foster it in order for it to grow, so don’t let your connections die at the networking event, continue to cultivate those relationships with time. 
Alright, now that you have a roadmap for networking done right, how do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments! 
I think it’s exciting that you never know who you might encounter or how the people you meet might provide unique opportunities for your business. 
So even though putting yourself and your company out on a limb might seem nerve-wracking at first, there’s no doubting that networking is worth the time and energy spent. 

How To Set Yourself Up to Reach Success with S.M.A.R.T. Goal-Setting

When I think of successful aestheticians who reach their goals, two words come to mind: S.M.A.R.T. and strategic. 

Notice how I didn’t say “smart.” 

While being smart and knowledgeable in our industry is important for being an aesthetic expert, the aestheticians who are thriving in their careers are the ones who set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Now, you may have heard of the S.M.A.R.T. Goal-Setting Method before as it’s frequently discussed in the corporate world and is a standard method across many disciplines, but just because it’s a popular idea doesn’t mean it’ll click right off the bat. 
As with any methodology, it takes understanding why you’re following this method and how to put it into action with your unique situation. So, today I want to break down the five components of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting and how to break down bigger goals into achievable steps. 
Let’s dive in! 

The Five Components of S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting

The best part about the S.M.A.R.T. Method is that it’s easy to remember because S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Here’s how each of those elements breaks down:
S is for Specific - You want your goal to be as specific as possible.
Think of it this way, if you’re going to visit a friend who lives in New York City, you could type in “New York City” into your GPS, and it would take you there without knowing their specific address. 
Specificity gives you direction. You have to know the end destination clearly before you set out on your journey to reach this goal. Otherwise, if you make a goal too vague you won’t actually know when you’ve reached it because you never explicitly defined your end destination.
Let’s use an example that may apply to you. 

Maybe you’re looking to advance in your career, and you want a new, higher position at a different company. 
Does this mean you want to change the field you’re in? Do you want to be in a managerial position? Do you want to make more money? 
Rather than saying, “I want a new job that’s a step up from where I currently am.” A more specific goal would be, “I want to land a position as a manager at a medical spa.” 
See? That second, more specific goal is much more clear on the actual accomplishment you’re trying to reach. 
For extra credit, you could even name the spa that you’d like to manage.

Now on to M for Measurable - A measurable goal is one that has a numeric value you can track. 
This unit of measurement could be time, money, number or products sold, a percent increase, the options are many, but having a unit of measurement is just another way for you to stay on track. 
Additionally, making your goals measurable gives you a good marker for being able to end one goal and start another. 
For example, your goal might be to increase product sales in your spa. But, if you’ve sold even one more product in a given time period than you did previously, technically, you increased your product sales. 
However, I’m guessing you would want to increase your sales by more than one unit, which is why having a measurable aspect of your goal is important. So, instead of merely “increasing your product sales,” your goal should instead be something like, “I want to increase my product sales by 25 percent.”
Once you’ve reached or exceeded that 25 percent marker, you’ll be able to know you accomplished that goal and can either set the bar higher or move on to another S.M.A.R.T. goal you want to set for yourself. 
Next up is A for Actionable - This is the part of the method that is the most time-consuming, but it’s crucial, so don’t skip or gloss over this part. 
Making your goal actionable means outlining every step you need to take from start to finish to achieve your goal. 
When you break down your goal into smaller line items, you’re able to take a step back from looking at your giant goal, which helps reduce the overwhelm that comes from merely thinking about that end result and wondering, “how will I get there?” 
With a longer list of small steps, you can methodically move through your list tackling one thing at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have reached your goal. 
Once we get through the next two steps of the S.M.A.R.T. Method, we’ll go through a complete example so you can see how this part of the method comes into play. 
Next up, R for Realistic - Realism is all in the eye of the beholder. What may be realistic for you to achieve is entirely different from what someone else can accomplish. 
When it comes to making your goal realistic, it’s important to keep in mind your previous experience, your know-how, and where you’re starting from. 
For example, you wouldn’t set the goal to speak at your industry’s biggest convention or conference when you’ve never given a live presentation or speech before. 
You might get to this point eventually, but setting a more realistic goal first, such as speaking at a local meeting for industry professionals, or speaking at a smaller, more niche conference, will allow you to achieve a goal that is more realistic. Plus, it'll help you gain the experience you need for your next-level goal of speaking at your industry’s largest conference if you want to take it that far. 
The important thing to remember with this aspect of the S.M.A.R.T. Method is that making your goal “realistic” doesn’t mean limiting yourself to small goals. You can dream big and set out to accomplish significant milestones, but set those smaller goals first and work your way up. 
Finally, there is T for Time-bound - Your dream needs a deadline. 
If you set a goal that’s not time-bound, that’s where procrastination sets in because you don’t have an idea of when you would like your goal accomplished by. This makes it easier to put your smaller, actionable steps on hold. 
Again, it’s important to keep your timeframe realistic as well. Many feats aren't achieved overnight, so make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by giving yourself enough time to realistically tackle all the steps you need to take to reach your goal while also making that timeframe tight enough that you feel compelled to work towards it continually.

Breaking Down Your Goal into Smaller Steps

Alright, now that we’ve got the S.M.A.R.T Method outlined, let’s walk through a quick example. We’ll stick with the one above about increasing product sales.
1.) Let’s get Specific -  We want to increase our spa’s retail sales. 
2.) How do we make that Measurable? - We want to increase our retail sales by 25 percent.  

You can also make your measurement a dollar amount here or even make the goal based on your commission rate.  

Saying “I want to make an additional $500 per month in product commission each month” may be a more motivating factor for you, and it still supports your specific goal of working to increase your retail sales. 
3.) Alright, on to Actionable - This is where we get super detailed. Let’s say you decide that you have set your goal to increase retail sales by 25% each month.  

For the sake of easy math, let’s say your average retail sales are $1,000 per month, so you want to add $250 to that to reach your goal. (I hope your retail sales are much higher than that, but if not I’ve got a very good idea what your first goal can be!)
Now let’s break it down even further. If we presume there are four weeks in the month and that you work five days a week, that means that you have to sell an additional $12.50 per working day to reach your goal. 
So, how do you do that?  
Are you going to call previous patients?  Use social media to promote a particular product? What specific actions can you put into place on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to make sure that you reach your goal?  
That is your action plan. 
4.) Moving on to Realistic - Is it realistic to say we could increase product sales by 25 percent? Definitely. 50 percent or 100% might be too high to start with, but this is totally up to you.  

I always say you don’t go from first to fifth when driving a manual - it’s a process, and making change is a process too.  
Also, nothing says you aren’t allowed to exceed your goal. 
5.) Finally, Time-bound - How much time do you realistically need to reach your goal? A month might be appropriate if your sales are on the lower side and you can make a big leap simply because you’re taking a lot of action, but if your sales are already pretty strong, but you want to take it to the next level, you might need more time. 

Maybe three months. Go with the timeframe that makes the most sense for you and your business. 
That’s it. That’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal in action! 

See how well-thought out it is? This will make your goal so much easier to reach because you have a plan to do it. 
The extra bonus of the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method is that you’ll realize that this practice isn’t limited to setting professional goals, it’s also an excellent template for setting personal goals.
The thing to keep in mind is that no big, lofty goal is achieved overnight, but by using the S.M.A.R.T. method to give yourself a roadmap and breaking down your big goal into smaller, more action-packed mini goals, you can consistently keep your momentum going forward and maintain a positive outlook.

Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish.  Now go on, get dreaming and start goal setting, the S.M.A.R.T. way!