So you've taken a styling course, you've practiced on family and friends, you've set up your website and social media sites, and now you're ready for paying clients. But how does a stylist actually start getting those paying clients through the door? What I'm going to tell you may bring you out in a cold sweat, especially if you're an introvert like me, yes, I'm going to use the 'N' word, NETWORKING!
Ok, take a deep breath and bear with me, because no matter how much the thought of networking might make you panic, it's a crucial step for stylists to start building their business and client list. When I first started my styling business, I hated the thought of going to networking events, and having to pitch my services to complete strangers, but after overcoming my fears and taking the leap, it became clear very quickly that the key to being successful wasn't just about what I know, but about who I know.
So what's the best way for stylists to approach networking? First, it's important to identify your niche and your target clients. This will allow you to identify local networking events where you are more likely to encounter potential clients, or make contacts that have access to your target clients. If you're looking to work in men's corporate styling, then a working mom's networking event may not be the best use of your time.
Once you've identified the best networking events for you, then the next thing you need to do is prepare. You don't have to go over the top and prepare a formal speech about you and your services, especially because a lot of events are more informal cocktail or coffee events, but you will need to have a pitch prepared for when people ask you about what you do. A pitch doesn't have to be long or word perfect, just focus on selling your services and showing potential clients the value to them. Unless you're given time at the event to do a small presentation, look at your pitch as a conversation, just make sure you include your key selling points.
Once You've prepared your pitch and talking points then the next thing to think about is what to take with you. If you haven't already had business cards printed, then you'll need to do this before you attend any event. Even if you haven't formalized your branding, you'll still need something to hand out so jump on the computer and print off a basic card with your contact details. If you have brochures already printed then make sure you have plenty with you and give them out to as many people as possible. Even if the person you hand it to isn't a potential client, just remember that they know other people who might be.
Now, as a stylist, you are a walking advertisement for your business, which means that you need to pay attention to what you wear. If you show up in yoga pants and a sweatshirt then it may not be the best way to promote your services. Think about the timing and location of the event and choose and outfit that makes you feel confident and that will show off your skills. For many stylists, dressing themselves can be more of a challenge than dressing their clients, so use your skills and knowledge and apply them to your look for the event.
And, finally, don't overthink things and don't get stressed out! The more events you attend the more comfortable you will be and the more you actually may start to enjoy them. The first event is always the hardest, but when you leave with a list of potential clients or business contacts that may be able to boost your business, you'll be glad that you went, and you'll be excited for the next!
Happy networking everyone and don't forget that if you're ready to start your career as a stylist then our online certificate programs are the best way to start, so enroll now!