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We frequently encounter questions such as: what is the best way to handle a disgruntled client? Why are we having problems mastering waxing? Where can we go for answers? Expanding your knowledge is the most powerful investment you can make to further your growth not only professionally, but financially. Education is a must from the novice therapist to the seasoned aesthetician. The opportunities to attend seminars, trade shows, and classes are available, but taking the time from work or spending the money is sometimes very difficult. Sometimes we need answers right away and waiting for the seminar is not a choice. What to do?

Who can we ask? Where can we get information?
Well, the answer is simple - it is readily available and it is free. The Internet has created an information highway for the world to use. Finding a solution is sometimes only a click away.
Computer savvy aestheticians are expanding their knowledge through Webinars - seminars hosted via Internet ("the Web"). Already, new Internet Communities have formed, with aestheticians in California interfacing with aestheticians in Kansas, freely exchanging their knowledge base. Some skin care companies are hosting networking websites to provide a service to their clients, while establishing a closer contact with them. Companies are realizing that it is to their advantage to show that they are committed to education as a support for aestheticians.
According to the Pew Internet Project, on a typical day approximately 70 million American adults use the Internet and 63 percent have Internet access either at work or at home. Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions revealed that, in January 2005, there were 637,741 searches for the keywords: skin care, facials, cosmetics, and day spa. Those four keywords represent a fraction of the possible combinations of terms that users type into their browser when searching for information. Try a test with Yahoo! or Google using keyword phrases such as body wrapping training, advanced skin care seminars, or aesthetic training. Substitute different words or different city names and look at the results. The information is out there.
Hannelore Leavy, President of DaySpa Association, remarked that less than 10 years ago research had to be done manually. Not 30 years ago but less than 10 years ago. The Internet really took off in the mid-90s and has been growing ever since. It sometimes takes a while for people to get comfortable with computers and learn how to use them properly, but they are a great tool. With practice, you will learn how to weed out the good and the not so reliable information that can be found on the Internet. There are many Search engines such as Google and Yahoo that are invaluable tools in finding information on every conceivable topic. The information for the aesthetic industry is also there - you need to do the research. Leavy and her team are developing an Internet career center to provide aestheticians with knowledge about their career path in the day spa and medical spa industries. Beauty schools and even higher education facilities often mislead students about their employment opportunities and earning potentials after graduation. So it is wise for young persons considering this career to research it thoroughly. They will be investing a lot of time, effort, and money, and should not be misled as to their potential for earnings, especially at the start of their careers. I have yet to meet one who started out making a 6-figure salary!
We must be very careful to convey the true picture of this industry through the information we provide by our organizations to aestheticians and other therapists as well as to entrepreneurs, investors and other start-up "dreamers". How has the Internet affected the aesthetician? We are still far from achieving the potential the computer offers us. We are behind other individuals and businesses. We must spread the word, teach, and encourage everyone in our industry to embrace the new technologies. But, a word of warning: yes, if you dig deep enough you will find your answers, but, as Leavy warns, double and triple check the information with cross references. There is a lot of false information and advice that is misleading and sometimes absolutely incorrect.
Debbie Doerlamm got her nail tech license and was doing a great business. She also had a great interest in computers since 1984 and felt that there had to be a way to put both passions together. In 1995, she became the founder and web host of www.beautytech.com. She was the first nail technician offering networking and information for professionals on her web site. She was prompted to do this because of the lack of information anywhere for nail technicians. The entire web site is free for professionals. You can use many networking tools, join chat rooms, find information about state laws and regulations, or check the class and trade show calendars. She has on her site several articles, both professional and consumer based, that are specifically related to skin care. Debbie states that the networking links at her site are probably the most rewarding. She feels proud to be able to offer therapists the opportunity to engage in a discussion with professionals likes Janet McCormick and Laura Root for FREE!
Another industry site, Salon Channel (www.SalonChannel.com) is one of the leading Internet search engine for the spa and beauty industry. This website has a completely different feel than www.beautytech.com, which is great because you can visit both sites and be receiving information from an entirely different virtual aesthetic community. Visitors can search for a company or product, find contact information, request free catalogs from manufacturers and distributors, search for a job, browse the message boards and calendar of events, or read industry articles and news. The site currently receives an average of a million visitors a month. Shirley Erickson Gorospe started up Salon Channel in 2000 as a way for those in the beauty industry to network and to do independent research. "It is one place to easily find all the professional resources that you need," she says. Shirley has worked in the beauty industry since 1994, providing education for aestheticians.
Salon Channel is a great source for networking. The site receives inquiries from over 36,000 aestheticians, therapists, hair stylists, and others in the beauty industry per month. The majority of offerings and services are free to visitors and no annoying registration is required. Manufacturers and distributors can be listed on the site.
Webinars are gaining popularity among aestheticians. Your personal computer gives you access to a vast amount of knowledge from industry experts. Spatrade.com is another website which provides excellent information and has hosted many Webinars with Nancy Wynne Borgeman, President of Preston Wynne Inc. She has said that Webinars are definitely more popular among managers and owners; but that therapist/employees in spas are still not widely using the web to educate themselves. Our first Webinar was last fall, and we found that just dealing with the technicalities of getting on the call stumped a fairly substantial number of the registrants. The Webinar participants also told us they preferred to have an archived presentation that they could reference at their convenience. The "live" aspect of it was less important than the content and having to be on the call at a certain time made it less convenient for busy operations managers. Aestheticians, who among spa employees are the most computer savvy, as compared to other industries are just emerging from the dark ages! Wynne-Borgeman stated that Webinars are still happening they just had to revamp it a little to make it aesthetically friendly.
So, as you have read, there are many ways to use a computer to enhance your professional knowledge. Get a computer and get started. You will not regret it.

Denise R. Fuller is a licensed esthetician, Australian-trained beauty therapist and certified by the State of Florida to teach and certify therapists in body wrapping. She is the Corporate Educator for Universal Companies and a contributing writer to several esthetic trade magazines. She is also the co-founder of Florida Aesthetic Network, a networking group that meets quarterly in Florida and offers free education. Her passion is to provide a higher level of education for the professional in the spa industry.

 

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