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A Crash Course in "Professional Networking"

Raise your hand if you are familiar with social networking. Maybe you have a Facebook profile or Twitter account. If you are currently engaged in these activities, is it for business, pleasure, or both? If you answered both, are you maintaining separate accounts or just one?
In everyday life we have very well established protocols regarding the separation of these activities. For instance, you would never allow your children to accompany you in the treatment room with a client or discuss your personal matters with her other than superficial pleasantries.

Likewise, your friends and family may not be interested in every marketing pitch or new sales promotion you are offering your clients. Therefore, it is wise to keep these two agendas separated.
 Unfortunately, because social networking is such a new environment very few people have adopted this philosophy and forget to apply the same protocols online as in person. Similarly, networking with other professionals is an altogether separate agenda and should be done in an environment that supports professionals and is not accessible by the public at large.
Aesthetic International Association’s (AIA) mission statement is “to raise the standards of education and public awareness of the aesthetic industry.” We are continuously searching for new and better ways to achieve this mission. For more than a decade we have been working on the creation of the tools you are going to read about on the following pages. In the last issue or two we have alluded to ‘it’, hinted about ‘it’, and even referenced that ‘it’ is coming.
Well, the time has come to let the cat out of the bag, if you will. Although you were not aware, during the course of the past decade we have launched pilot programs and variations of the tools that we are about to reveal all in the efforts of evolution and bringing about this revolutionary community. By now you probably want to know what exactly ‘it’ is and through this article our goal is to answer all your questions, beginning with the what.
What we have designed is very similar to social media. However, it is geared to serve a professional market. ‘It’ is a network of interrelated web communities specific to the aesthetic industry. Each community primarily serves a distinct segment of the industry and is interlinked to the others to increase Search Engine Optimization. Aesthetics International Association
The home site, for lack of a better analogy, is AIAProfessional.com. This, of course, is AIA’s website and where you will go for all things related to the association and your membership benefits. The official publication of AIA is DERMASCOPE Magazine, which has its own site, dermascope.com. The DERMASCOPE site is great for accessing archived articles, press releases, and puzzler answers. The new or newly revamped sites are AestheticsProfessional.com, (very similar to Facebook)
primarily for individual practitioners to network, share, and learn from each other; MySpaNetwork.com was created for consumers to be able to locate spas and salons using a variety of search methods; and ProfessionalSkinCareGuide.com is for manufacturers and distributors to post products and training and connect with industry professionals. Each of these sites will be described in-depth a little later in the article. So for now we will turn our attention to the big picture.

Initially you may be thinking, “Oh, great something else to put on my list.” Or, maybe you are thinking, “But I already have a website, why do I need another?” However, in a previous paragraph I mentioned Search Engine Optimization (SEO). On the Internet SEO is king. So what exactly is SEO? In simple terms it is the system that determines if you are listed on the first or 343rd page when someone does an Internet search. Google, Bing, and other search engines are the new YellowPages and the days of alphabetical listings are gone. It no longer matters if you are AAA Medical Spa or Yolanda’s SkinHairNails.
What matters on the Internet is relevance. In other words; how well does your site match any given set of words used during a search? There are formulas that make these determinations, most of which are convoluted to amateur Internet users and change too rapidly for you to keep up. However, three of the biggest priorities are the content on your site, the number of relevant links to and from your site, and the structure and navigation of your site. When you join the community of tools we have developed your content and linking score will be significantly raised by virtue of all the links that will exist and the content on all of the various sites. For example, when someone does a search using the following keywords “spa, dallas, tx” – MySpaNetwork.com should eventually come up in the top three results.
Once the consumer goes to MySpaNetwork.com she can search by products, specialties, locations, or name. There are currently tens of thousands of spas listed at MySpaNetwork.com and right now that listing includes name and address. Once you activate the account you can add much more (see section on MySpaNetwork.com for complete details).
If SEO is the primary reason you should join the Professional Network, the second reason would be continuity and connection. Once you join the community you will have access to all of the sites and use them in the various ways to stay connected. You will be able to chat with other professionals, market yourself and/or spa to consumers, and stay in touch with your manufacturer or even rate products and manufacturers. These communities are designed to work together and to complement and enhance traditional tradeshow experiences.
If you are anything like us, you are pumped up after a tradeshow. You are ready to take on the world with all of your energy and newly acquired knowledge, but after a week or a month your enthusiasm wanes and you fall back into your previous, albeit potentially tweaked, patterns. However, when you join AIA and start to utilize the Professional Networking tools you can sustain that positive energy longer and eventually it should take on a life of its own.
Now that you have a foundational understanding of what the Professional Network is and why it is important, we can focus on the details of each tool.

AIAProfessional.com

Aesthetics International Association

AIA, and likewise AIAProfessional.com, is the core of our network. There are three levels of membership in AIA: Community Member, Professional Member, and Certified Member. The Community Membership is free and it is designed for anyone in the industry that would like to learn more about us and “test drive” these tools before making a full commitment. This membership level is limited to the online resources. The Professional Membership, which is a $49 annual fee, is for industry professionals who are committed to professional growth. As a Professional Member you will receive full benefits, which include access to the online Professional Network tools, a one-year subscription to DERMASCOPE Magazine, discount programs, and much more. The Certification Membership, which is $125 annual fee, is intended for professionals who are committed to their own professional growth as well as to the long-term growth of the industry as a whole. Certified Members will have the same benefits of a Professional Membership but will have passed the AIA National Certification exam and will be eligible to serve on committees and Boards.
AIA’s benefits are divided into three main categories: Business Resources, Educational Resources, and Human Resources.

  • Business Resources: AIA’s business resources are aimed at providing spa owners and aestheticians with resources to help grow and expand their business. Some of the business resources include insurance coverage resources, financing and leasing resources, discount services, and access to the tools within the Professional Network.
  • Educational Resources: The educational resources are the center of AIA’s focus. We have developed a certification exam to standardize education in the skin care industry. In addition to the certification exam our education resources include the educational library, AIA continuing education program in DERMASCOPE, online calendar of events and classes, state board information, discussion forums, ask the expert, the Professional Skin Care Guide, and DERMASCOPE Magazine and its’ online archive of over 30 years of educational material.
  • Human Resources: AIA’s human resources are an assembly of the most elite professionals in the aesthetics industry. With your membership you will gain access to the Academy of Legends, Ambassadors, Board of Advisors, and Board of Directors. Each of these individuals has helped lead our industry where it is today. Your membership will provide you with access to their knowledge and expert advice.

AestheticsProfessional.comAesthetics Professional

As we have been saying, networking, both socially and professionally, is an important part of every profession. AestheticsProfessional.com brings you the networking aspect of a tradeshow, every day of the year in the comfort of your own home or office. With powerful tools that let you connect with your colleagues and other professionals, you can gain knowledge and information from a network of experts willing to share advice. Membership to AestheticsProfessional.com is free and by signing up, you become a Community Member in AIA.
So, what are the features of AestheticsProfessional.com? Well, this is the tool for individual professionals to connect with each other and is most like your social networking sites. For instance each member of this site will have all of the following.

Aesthetics Professional ProfileIndividual Profiles

Adding your profile to AestheticsProfessional.com is very simple. If you have a Facebook account, you can click the “Connect with Facebook” button and enter your Facebook login information. The site will automatically create your account and sync your profile picture and basic information from Facebook. It is that easy. However, it is not necessary to have a Facebook account; registration is simple. Fill in your name, choose a username, enter your e-mail address, and create your password. You will also have the option to include more information about your profession and education, but it is not required.

Activity Stream

The activity stream is a “real-time” list of activities of the users in your network. The activity stream highlights profile updates, group activities, wall posts, and new friend connections. On each profile page there is a mini activity stream that displays activities of only that user and yourself. AestheticsProfessional.com uses the activity stream to make it easier to stay up-to-date with what is happening within your network.

Privacy

We understand that not everyone wants to have all of their information displayed to everyone on the Internet. That is why we have given you privacy settings that allow you to control what information is displayed to who and what types of notification you receive.

Messaging

Your Community membership also comes with a messaging system, allowing you to easily communicate with other individuals in your network. Very much like an e-mail account, you will have an inbox where your message will be received and stored and a sent box to store your sent messages. Sending messages is made easier by the addition of your friends list on the write message page. Simply click the name of your friend or colleague, click the “Add as recipient button,” add your subject and message, and click “Submit” to send your message.

Groups


AestheticsProfessional.com allows you to create and join smaller networks or groups. Groups are a way of enabling a number of people to come together online to share information and discuss specific subjects. Within each group, its’ members have the ability to create discussions, upload photos, post to the group wall, and view bulletins posted by the group creator.

Keep yourself up-to-date with what is happening in your industry with a free Community Membership on AestheticsProfessional.com.

MySpaNetwork.com

My Spa NeetworkIf your spa does not have an online presence then your business is missing a crucial marketing tool. MySpaNetwork.com is a search engine for consumers looking for spas in their area. As a spa owner you can set-up your online presence in our search engine for free. You already have a website? That’s OK, the more places your company is on the Internet, the easier you are to be found. In fact as we pointed out earlier, linking your website to your MySpaNetwork.com account and vice versa will help optimize both of them in the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. In addition to an online presence, MySpaNetwork .com offers tools to help you market and grow your business.

The three levels of membership within MySpaNetwork.com are a Basic Listing, Advanced Listing, and a Portal.

  • Basic Listing: The Basic Listing is free and represents a spa that has not activated their listing within our site. The listing will have the location and
    contact information.
  • Advanced Listing: The Advanced Listing is also free and includes the essential capabilities needed to present your business online. Once you activate your listing, you can upload your company logo, a photo gallery, your location and contact information, and a brief 3,000 word description about your spa. Your listing will also include a Google Map of your
    spa’s location.
  • Web Portal: While your company can receive a free listing within MySpaNetwork.com, its exposure level is significantly increased if you upgrade to a Portal. The Portal offers the capability to have multiple pages of information. You can upload your spa menu, pages for each of your products, your contact information, a home page, and a photo gallery. Along with the increased exposure and content, you will also receive our newsletter tool for keeping in contact with your clients and up to five e-mail accounts “yourname”@MySpaNetwork.com.

 

Newsletters

The newsletter tool that is included with the Portal will allow you to easily create marketing e-mails and send them out to your lists of subscribers. Communication is very important in keeping your clients coming back as well as marketing to your potential clients. Our pre-made templates will help you to have a professional appearance and effectively communicate your message. This tool can help create great results when paired with the information available in your spa’s web portal.

 

E-mail

Now that you’ll be sending out e-mails to your clients on a regular basis, it is important to keep a professional appearance. Why send out your e-mails as “yourname”@yahoo.com when you could send it out from “yourname”@myspanetwork.com. With your Portal you will receive up to five e-mail addresses of your choice @MySpaSetwork.com.

 

ProfessionalSkinCareGuide.com

Professional Skin Care guide

Tired of waiting until the next tradeshow to start looking for a new product line? The ProfessionalSkinCareGuide.com is a comprehensive resource for aestheticians looking for professional skin care products, equipment, and training. The Guide provides detailed information about product manufacturers and training resources, enabling aestheticians and spa owners to fully consider their options and decide what best meets their needs.

 

The Search

The Guide provides an extensive search tool to simplify the process. Type the company name, brand name, or type of product, equipment, or training and immediately get access to the resources within our site.

 

The Companies

The companies within the Guide will provide you with pages and pages of information about their products and/or training. Each company may have a page for each type of product, training classes, locations, and dates, their team of personnel, contact information, and a newsletter signup form, providing you with enough information to fully consider your options and decide which products or training will meet your needs.

 

The Newsletters

The Guide offers each company inside the capability to provide newsletters to its potential and current customers. Now you don’t have to wait for the next tradeshow or event to find new products or get updates from your product providers. You can receive e-mail updates keeping you up to date by simply entering your e-mail address on any company’s newsletter page.

 

Ratings and Reviews

Each company within the Guide will have a rating paired with reviews, so you can read about other professional’s experiences with that company. As a registered user, you can also post your own rating and review of each of the companies. The companies will also have the opportunity to respond to any reviews posted about their company.
Whether you are just looking for information about a specific company before attending the next tradeshow or searching for new equipment for your spa, ProfessionalSkinCareGuide.com is your online resource for products and training.
There have been many hills and valleys, countless obstacles, and a variety of names and faces that have had a hand in bringing this dream to fruition. As with any good tool, we will continue to seek ways to make it better, more user-friendly, and more beneficial to our users. We hope that you are inspired by the possibilities. We urge you to join this revolution and help evolve the aesthetic industry. Once you have had an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the sites and spend time using all the tools, please send us your feedback, comments, critiques, and questions. We can keep up with technology, we want you to tell us if there is something you wish you could do, but cannot find.

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