When most people think of networking, they imagine a stuffy room full of professionals. Each person is equipped with both a business card and elevator pitch. And the perfect handshake. This is a popular way to network, but there are many other ways to expand your contact list!
If you’re studying an animal grooming course online, face-to-face interactions with other students are limited. So you must find different ways to get to know your fellow groomers and instructors. Networking takes place both on and offline these days, so there’s hope for you yet!
Keep reading if you want to make the most of your online grooming school connections!
Networking is the way to score clients and referrals. Talking about your experience and your training in a friendly and professional way will grow your network. The key is to never force your professional life inorganically into conversations! If you are genuine and helpful, they will more likely think of you the next time they consider professional grooming services.
Not only will networking allow you to find immediate clients, but you can also grow your client list indirectly. Even if that guy at the pet shop you were chatting up has a groomer already, he might pass your name along to someone else. Opportunities rarely create themselves these days. Pushing the limits of your circle could find you on the guest panel at a national grooming conference!
What are your networking tools?
Having a professional website, social media presence, and portfolio is standard. Please don’t skimp on this! However, your best weapon is actually your personality! Having an outgoing, charming personality is essential to a successful career in grooming! Introduce yourself and your career goals on student forums and groups. Post your professional contact information and links at the end of your bio along with a good photo. If anyone else is doing the same, reach out to them! It’s far easier to do so online than in real life, so don’t be shy!
These tools are handy once you’re starting a business, too. Your website, portfolio, social media, and business cards should be current. You don’t want someone to dig up your card months later only to find that your contact information is out of date! Not only should you be positive and approachable when you’re around potential clientele, but some pets are super intuitive. They know a good egg from a bad one, and if you exude confidence, patience, and a friendly spirit, you’ll attract the pets AND their owners!
Who should you be networking with?
Your school’s students:
Now, why network with your peers in an online school, you may ask? It’s easy to see the value of networking when you’re out in the real world, but with your online peers whom you may not ever meet… why bother?
Don’t write off your online connections just yet. You can gain a lot from your fellow students! Most online schools provide forums and groups for students to get support from one another as they complete the course. If you’re active in these groups, you may find yourself stumbling into great friendships with groomers from around the world!
After you graduate, why leave those friendships and connections behind? You’ll need just as much support as you jump into the next chapter of your career! It’s a bummer not being able to grab after-class coffees with your peers, but it only makes your first meet-up more exciting!
After you graduate, you may look into joining an association. You can start that process while you’re still in school to ensure that you have a smooth transition into the industry. So, how can you start?
Associations host events all the time. While some of these events are for their members, others are open to the public! Why not attend these events and get to know the groomers who make up your local community? Joining an association isn’t required, but it comes with a host of benefits! On top of having access to great insurance packages, you’ll also have opportunities for further education, conferences, seminars, and grooming shows!
These conferences and events are huge for industry professionals. You can meet like-minded individuals and even your former course mates! You’ll develop your professional network more and network with groomers in other regions as well. You may not see the immediate benefits of connecting with groomers in California when you’re from Ohio, but it never hurts to leave a business card trail…
Networking after you graduate
The field of professional pet grooming is booming. After graduation, you’ll be making your foray into the real world, trying to land a job at a salon or even start your own business. But with so many other working groomers in your area, how can you lay down the prep work to start your career on the right foot?
Here’s a secret: make friends with your local groomers!
It seems counter-intuitive to associate with other animal groomers, but hear us out. While other grooming salons and independent groomers are your competitors, a little goodwill can go a long way! As the market grows, you and everyone in your community will set the standard for your area. Sharing best practices can only benefit everyone in the business and put more stock in the field of grooming. Who knows, you may even find yourself a new business partner!
Where else can we find good networking opportunities? Let us know in a comment!