I think networking is probably one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. I reached out to the top people in the beauty and bath industry to compile their advice for you. I asked what their best networking tip was. Read on and get networking savvy!
Michelle Rhodes – Mossy Creek Soap Networking is key in our business, but networking with the right people is more important. How do you find those folks? I believe in having a strong online presence. My new thing is Pinterest. I am a visual person and that allows me to collect a lot of pretty things in one place. I was excited to see have over 35,000 viewers a month. I get about 20% of my referral business from it.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson – Indie Business Network If you already like to network, you don’t need a tip. If you don’t like to network, here’s your tip. Make developing yourself as a person a priority and you will have all the incentive you need to network. If you don’t network, you will not develop as a person. If that is not a priority for you, no tip from me will change that.
Charna Ethier – Providence Perfume Because I started my business online, I feel social media is the best networking available for my business. There are many niche fragrance groups on Facebook, and connecting with fellow fragrance fanatics has been helpful and fun. I make connections, learn about the industry, trends, and suppliers. Instagram is great for finding likeminded individuals who have an interest in natural and organic products.
Debbie May – Wholesales Supplies Plus I do not engage in much networking for my personal, business or professional life. In the past I tried and found it clouded my perception for business while taking time away from my family. It didn’t feel productive. Instead of networking, I practice the following:
• Personally – I spend time with friends and family. I love volleyball. I have one daughter that pays at the collegiate level and a younger one that travels the country playing from Jan. to July. I like to take short weekend trips with family and friends.
• For Business – I engage in the practice of “Listening to Voice of the Customer” which allows us to work toward continuous improvement. I work hard to understand the nuisances of our business so that we can launch new products and programs to meet customer needs.
• Professionally – This spring I will have my Executive MBA from Baldwin Wallace University here in the Cleveland, Ohio area. The program has given me incredible focus for strategic planning for current and future ventures. Since many area business schools are corporate focused, I hope to help the next generation by being a guest speaker on the small business topics.
Charlene Simon – Bathhouse Soapery Be truly interested and involved in what other are offering. When I first started networking, sharing my business was all I had in mind. You know, had to get the word out! While getting the word out is important, you have to care about what fellow business owners/manager are trying to share. Being interested in others will ultimately make them interested in you.
Joan Morais – Joan Morais Naturals Be yourself. Choose a way to network that aligns with your personality. Some people are very social and others are not. Don’t try to squeeze into a social person’s shoes if you are not a social person. Figure out if you like to connect online or in person. Next, find a group on Facebook or in your platform and meet other colleagues.
Lori Nova Endres – The Nova Studio Get together with people… in person! Looking back over the 14 years I’ve been in business, my favorite and most valuable networking experiences were when I had the opportunity to get together with others in the soap/bath/body industry. For me, at the top of the list was going to the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild conferences (I think I’ve been to 6). I’ve made amazing connections and met so many people I had known only online… but it really takes it to another level when you meet people in person and can get to know them better. Other great ways to network are local meet-up groups (we had one for many years at The Nova Studio), and even taking boot camp style classes. These are wonderful because you get to be with a group of people who share your interests for several days, and can talk and get to know one another on breaks, over meals, or before/after class. Lifelong friendships and business connections are common in these situations.
Alana Riveria – Etta and Billie Be yourself! It can be so intimidating to meet new people whether it’s in a group or one on one. I found that I would get really shy and quiet (not me generally) when in large groups or new groups of people. Focus on smiling, being yourself and asking questions to engage someone. It takes the pressure off, I swear!
Roberta Perry – Scrubz Be honest. Don’t be afraid to share valuable information. The stealers of the world will steal your ideas, but they will always be a step behind, so share you, as well as sharing your brand.
Anne Marie Faiola – Brambleberry Be more interested in other people than you are interesting. The classic book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ has some solid strategies to become more likeable. Three of them are: 1. Get good at remembering names. Everyone loves to hear their own name repeated often. 2. Ask lots of questions; be genuinely curious. 3. Give authentic compliments when able.
Use the comment box below to let me know if you have any great network tips!
Benjamin Aaron – How to sell soap – Networking is a big buzzword in business circles these days. I could not agree more with its importance in the business world, especially in the soap and body care industry. Thanks to a globalized planet through the World Wide Web and the fact that we are indeed still a cottage industry, the ability to network and create new associates, colleagues and partners is much easier than ever before. And there is a technique to networking: Always Be Of Service. Send a new or aspiring industry comrade a customer. Rave about them. Do something genuine and meaningful for them. Sow seeds. It all comes back to you. Most importantly, listen more than you talk. I would venture to recommend that in almost every social situation you find yourself in, listen more than you talk. You get to take home far more feedback and learn from it than you ever would by being the one that does all the talking. This is especially true for your relationships with customers.
These are all really great ideas, don’t you think? Do you have any ideas you’d like to share?
Yours in Gratitude,