You’ve chosen a career in beauty, and you’re filled with dreams about where your choice might take you: a job at the coolest salon in town, Insta fame as a beauty influencer, educating for your favorite product company, working with celebrities, owning your own place someday, there are so many possibilities! And while you have to finish your courses and get your license first, it doesn’t mean you can’t start making moves now. To do so, it’s all about making connections. No matter where you are in your journey, networking should always be part of what you do every day. Here are tips for how to network while you’re still in school, and once you graduate.
Talk to Guest Speakers at Your School
Representatives from some of the best salons often visit cosmetology schools looking for potential employees. “Honestly, I wouldn’t waste my time applying to a salon that hasn’t been to my school to talk about their business,” says Scott Massad, President & CEO of Gene Juarez Salons and Spas. “If they’re great, they will want to get in front of you at some level.” When your school hosts a guest speaker, do some research before they arrive. If they’re from a salon that interests you, be sure to find a way to have a one-on-one chat to ask questions and to make a good impression.
Attend Career Fairs
The above also holds true for area career fairs. These events are also opportunities to mingle with businesses who are looking to hire great people. “We send our educators to career fairs,” says Stacey Hodges, co-owner of the four Salon Disegnos in the Atlanta area. “This gives prospects an opportunity to talk to other stylists in the company, rather than the owners, to figure out if it’s a place where they will fit.”
Go Where Like-Minded Professionals Go
Trade shows and industry events like America’s Beauty Show in Chicago, Premiere Orlando and the North American Hairstyling Awards in Los Angeles attract industry leaders, educators and stylists who are committed to education and excellence. The larger shows attract thousands of people—and thousands of opportunities to network! “Get out there and things will start to click,” says Matrix Artistic Director and ULTA Beauty Vice President Nick Stenson. “You’ll meet people, you’ll see what’s out there.”
Target Salons That Excite You
Go online and research salons in your area. A salon’s website will tell you a lot about their esthetic and salon culture. When you’re out and about, start paying attention to the hair you see. “At the mall, the grocery store, the movies, when you see a great color or cut, ask them who does their hair,” suggests Paula Malloy, Vice President of Hair Cuttery. “You’ll likely begin to get the same five or 10 salon names. Book a blowout at those salons and while you’re there, ask questions. See how you feel in the environment. If you like it, introduce yourself to the owner and let her know you love the salon and you’re pursuing a cosmetology career.”
Build Your Social Media Profile
We all know how important social media is in everyone’s lives and for hairstylists, the visual nature of Instagram can be a career-maker. Nowadays, it’s practically a virtual portfolio or resume. By posting their work and building engagement, many young stylists are achieving full-book status in record time. In addition to perfecting your cutting and coloring skills, familiarize yourself with before and after hair photography, hashtags and all the other must-dos of cultivating a substantial social media presence.
Look the Part, Talk the Part
As a style and image expert, you are your own best advertisement. Every time you leave your house, think about the type of clients you’d like to work with, and make sure you fit the image. If someone asks about your beautiful highlights, steer the conversation to the fact that you’re a hair colorist in training. And, if you notice someone whose look you admire, complement her and make a new contact for a potential client.
Just Say Yes
Sometimes an opportunity comes along completely unexpectedly. And when it does, embrace it. For example, students at a cosmetology school in San Antonio were recently invited to stuff goody bags at a major educational event in the area, in exchange for free tickets to the show. Those who volunteered met dozens of the industry’s best educators, and had the time of their lives.
Photo Credit: Getty Images