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Monday, February 4, 2013

Network Makes the Dream Work

      With the show season already in full swing I want to talk about the most important aspect of attending these shows. The networking. In order to become successful you don't have to be the smartest person in the room. As a matter of fact if you are, it's time to find a new room. The importance of networking is to surround yourself with people smarter than you are. Who know the things you don't know, that if you did know, you could do better, be better and market yourself better. In Harvey Mackey's column Career Advice from the Masters he writes "If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I’ve met over a lifetime, I’d say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts. A network replaces the weakness of the individual with the strength of your network."

Some people are allergic to networking, I had this challenge early in my career. I would seriously break out in hives. But a mentor encouraged me to approach people and not be afraid of asking to add them to my network. I'm so glad I took his advice. I have met so many amazing people in this industry once I let go of that fear. Building a network is building a bridge to a successful future.

You never know what you will need along the way in this crazy business and your network opens up so many doors that may have been shut tight. When you meet new people understand they are giving you their time because they believe you may hold something of value to them as well. Don't be a hoarder of your knowledge and information. Networking is a two way street. If people sense you are only a taker your networking efforts will suffer. I had the opportunity of spending some time with a dear friend in my network today Miss Maisie Dunbar. Maisie is a huge role model and femtor to me and I cherish the time we spend together. I introduced myself to Maisie at a show years ago and we became fast friends. We share a common mindset. Maisie is one of the smartest business women I know and shares her knowledge selflessly. She is authentic and transparent because she truly walks the talk. Even though I originally thought I was taking a few hours off today with her we ultimately end up talking about the beauty business. We talked about the frustration with some fellow nail techs that don't understand the value of investing in themselves. As business femtors it is a huge pet peeve we share. Many want to whine and complain about how slow their books are or how hard this business is without the slightest regard for their role in the situation. We chatted about where we are in our business and personal lives and the common thread of committing to excellence and not settling for anything less. I would have never met Maisie if I had not been at a show furthering my education.
I got sick and tired of struggling in business, so I knew I needed to know what I didn't know. So my question this week is, what are you willing to commit to in reaching for your dreams and goals? Before you take off in too many directions ask yourself if you have done as much as you can, invested as much as you can afford to surge ahead. How much time have you given the true work that needs to get done to rise above ordinary? Asses where you are and ask yourself what efforts have I made, truly made, to make things happen. So as you head out to the trade shows this season make yourself a list of who you would like to meet. What questions would you like to ask them. What do you bring to the relationship to stay in the game? Are you educating yourself to be of value to the equation? At the end of the show day there are only so many hours to get things done. We all get the same 24. How are you going to make yours most effective to break through to success?
Here are a few networking basics.
1. Join your local community center. Many centers post events well ahead of time. Something is bound to catch your interest. Libraries also bring in speakers on a variety of topics. Attend the event with plenty of business cards.
2. Have a Facebook presence for your business. Even if you are an employee of a salon. Many area businesses post events in your town. Choose a few to attend, with plenty of business cards.
3. Reach out to the local schools. They are always holding events, fundraisers and charitable events. Offer to attend and set up a booth donating proceeds to the cause. Have plenty of business cards.
4. Attend trade shows, as many as you can. With your business cards.
If you attend an event with a friend or colleague divide and conquer, you already know them. Get business cards or contact information from everyone you meet. Make a small note about what you talked about or what you promised to follow up with. It makes things so much easier when you get home. Keep in touch with these contacts, you never know when they might need your services.

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