The first two steps were about more than just checking out what’s happening in your area though. They will have also given you an insight into the local influencers working in your field, potentially a list of professionals with the same career goals. Getting to know some (if not all!) of these people is your next job.
Building a professional network is a CRUCIAL step in establishing your business. By consciously getting to know others working in your space you yourself become known. And in the same way, by helping others and by referring customers to them then they will in turn start to do the same for you.
But how do I network?
Well it’s actually pretty straightforward. And as we said a great place to begin are the lists of other MUAs and people working in the industry you generated in steps 1 and 2. It’s time to introduce yourself to them. You can do this in person if the opportunity presents, through a friendly introductory e-mail, by reaching out through social networks such as Twitter or Facebook.
Now for some the word networking often carries negative vibes of people trying to get to know you so they can sell you something/ask for favours/get introductions to your network. That does happen, but the best thing you can do to build solid relationships in your network is always begin not by asking “What can this person do for me?” but “What can I do to help this person?”.
Armed with this question, approaching complete strangers to chat about their work can feel like a really positive thing. And if you do indeed make an effort to selflessly help your network, you will inevitably start to reap the rewards of the goodwill this generates.
Good networking begins… Online
While meeting someone in person is always the ideal, increasingly social media is where people start. Here’s a quick guide to four of the main contenders for your time:
Create a business account for Twitter.com if you haven’t already. Find relevant people using #hashtag keyword searches, such as #MakeupartistNorwich #Makeupartist #Makeup #photographer #fashion or simply type in names directly ie: Lisa Eldridge (You should probably follow her anyway, she’s one of the biggest makeup artists in the world). If you like their work reach out and tell them so. Retweet their tweets. Recommend other makeup artists you think they might like and enrich their Twitter experience. They’ll love you for it.
Create a Facebook page for your business, and start to follow other local makeup artists, photographers, venues you hope to work in etc. Say “Hi” to them as well. Let them know you admire their work (if you actually do)! Sharing and liking their posts can also get you on their radar.
You can also join makeup networks on Facebook (although usually you will have to be an individual rather than a business), where you can often find tons of advice, make new friends and sometimes even get work.
Oh…and something a lot of people don’t know, you can search using #hashtags on Facebook pages too, which can help you find people talking about topics you’re interested in.
One way many MUAs build an online presence is to blog – writing about what they’re doing, what makeup they’re using, what clients they’re working with, advice and tips etc. If you Google specific topics you’ll very often find blog articles in the top search results.
You can follow these blogs, either by signing up if available, just checking back periodically or using a RSS Reader such as Feedly.
There are blogs everywhere. Tumblr.com , Blogger, WordPress, BlogLovin … the list goes on. Keeping an eye on the blogosphere, following people you love and checking out what they’re writing about is a great way to stay in touch with what’s happening in the world of makeup, weddings, fashion, photography, film, tv and music.
Leaving comments and sharing posts you’ve enjoyed on social media can again be a way to get on people’s radar before you reach out to say hi.
LinkedIn is gaining momentum in the art world now. It’s only become popular for networking as an artist in the last couple of years. It’s a very professional platform and a great way for people to see your CV. It’s also a great way to see other peoples CVs – you’ll find many people you have or would like to work with in your industry are on there.
Once you have an account, people in your LinkedIn network can ‘Endorse’ your expertise. This means that when potential employers and clients are searching for you, they will see others ‘vouching’ for you, kind of like a reference.
Once you’re on LinkedIn make sure you keep your profile up to date and looking professional!
Stay in Touch!
There are many places and ways to start a network, but the factor that will separate you from the crowd is how well you maintain that network.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’d needed help with something, and you knew someone perfect who could help you, but you haven’t spoke to them for five years and it would be too weird to just call them out of the blue. Well this is the power of actively maintaining your network – you make sure these kind of situations don’t occur.
Yes that’s right – I’m suggesting that if someone is in your network that you make contact with them at least once every six months. It may be just to say hi, perhaps you saw something that reminded you of them, maybe it’s their birthday, but keeping those lines of communication open is critical if you want to be able to properly reach out in the future.
How you manage this maintenance is up to you. You can create reminders in your phone or email system. You could put a note in your diary. You can even use the built in function of LinkedIn. But do this and you’ll instantly go from networking novice to networking ninja!
If you’ve used social media to build your network, it’s also important to update your accounts, write, add photos of what you’re doing, maybe even create your own blog. All of these things will keep people aware of what you’re working on and allow them to see opportunities for collaborations.
It sounds like a lot of work and indeed if you adopt the mindset of helping your network it can be! But the rewards will be great. Eventually it will be habit and you’ll have a great network that provides friendship, support, and even the odd job!