When I came into this business, I was fortunate enough to join an industry of like-minded professionals who were not only hungry for interaction with their peers, but shared a philosophy. This philosophy included the idea that by sharing our various skills, knowledge, and personal experiences with each other — and especially with newcomers — that we would all benefit collectively, as an industry.

Sadly, it seems that at some point someone came along and chastised us for giving it away for free. We started hearing that this was a bad thing, and that those superior nail techs who had built a reputation and a following should profit from that skill and knowledge. So it has come to pass that in this age of advanced communication, which ought to put the industry’s best and brightest only a keyboard away, we have actually seen a decrease in availability to them.

I appreciate that there are so many more events and seminars now — offered without pressure to use any particular product line as more of the artists offering classes aren’t affiliated with a particular company. I understand and support the need to cover the costs of such events, and I support the educators receiving fair compensation for their time and travel to these events.

But I don’t support taking it to the extreme, where a frustrated newbie can no longer contact an experienced tech to receive a simple hint on how to get a crisper smile line, a better fit from a form, or where to purchase quality glitter without receiving no other reply than a list of classes offered.

I still believe in sharing advice and insight with my colleagues and I still believe that we benefit collectively from doing so. And that is one reason I am so honored to be writing this column for the annual Reader-Written issue of NAILS. This issue is such a delight to read, as it still represents that philosophy of selfless generosity. It shows a willingness to come together and offer our wisdom, experience, and expertise for no other reason than because we wish to contribute to the industry.

So the next time you attend a networking event, spend a little more time networking rather than hanging out with the same old clique. Exchange business cards and then follow up; call or e-mail the people you met, leave a comment on their Facebook wall, reach out and establish a relationship that lasts beyond the class, the show, the dinner where you originally met. And when someone follows up with you, take a moment to respond in kind. Those contacts can prove to be valuable down the line when you need a second opinion or a genuine critique of your techniques or ideas.

Even when you don’t have time to provide the in-depth answer that may be needed from you, you can steer the questioner to any of the fabulous professional support sites that are available for professionals: Nailsmag.com, Beautytech.com, and the burgeoning Nailtechalley.com.

These acts of generosity are the baby steps to ensuring not only a brighter future for the salon business, but also in establishing your own reputation as a true professional who cares about the success of others, which is always a good idea because no one wants to pay $250 to attend a seminar taught by someone who snubbed them when they asked a simple question after a competition two years ago or who walked away in the middle of a conversation when they were greeted by a more “important” member of the industry.

There’s a balance between “giving it away” and being reasonably compensated for our expertise as educators and independent consultants, and I applaud those who are helping to find that balance for the sake of the future of our industry. All you have to do is take the time to answer a question.

— Maggie Franklin (Read more from Maggie at blogs.nailsmag.com/Maggie.)

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