Nail your skills - How to stay on top of your Information game (for Free!)
Every day, while browsing, mainly through forums and Facebook I find myself either reading the same questions, same exact posts over, and over again. Pros and clients alike full of doubt relying on each a random stranger's experience to make, sometimes, life changing decisions.
If you are deciding on whether the product you are thinking of buying (or getting put on your nails) is safe, what else is there for that price range; if you should be performing a certain service in a certain way; or how you are supposed to apply or use a certain product, hear me out.
Internet, Internet, Internet! The world wide web is exactly that (bar the absurd regional restrictions), and it is far more than Facebook or Instagram. The Internet also means more than the millions of links in a search, it also means you can reach the pros, the companies and ask the right people the right questions.
If being informed some 20 years ago meant reading all the things, don't be fooled into thinking you won't have to do the same in the age of online globalisation. Google is your friend, but making the most of it means typing, searching, reading, deciding on what information source to rely on, etc. It is not very different from researching for a college paper. The real difference is, no one is forcing you, and it's free!
Staying curious and informed is key to stay on top of your game. If you don't believe that just ask yourself this: would you base your business decisions on hearsay and then pin it on whoever you heard it from? Would you put your livelihood in the hands of someone in a Facebook group, you've never seen in your life and have no idea whose qualifications or intentions are?
Your business is your baby and I'm sure you wouldn't trust your baby's health on a random generic piece of information lying around in a travel agency brochure (or anything else equally random).
That said scouting the Internet for useful information can be daunting so this post aims to give you some easy guidelines to follow and avoid the pitless despair of looking at a 500-page long search results list and wanting to flip your nail desk.
Who am I to offer such advice you may ask? You are one smart cookie if you do because that means your ever-critical mind is already questioning this source! I have a degree in translation and subtitling, and that means I was trained and assessed to research, research and research, verify sources and assess their credibility online or otherwise, in the context of translation. I also did so in the early 2000s which means I've been doing it professionally for a while now. I have also worked in the education area for over 6 years and more recently in the website design and development field for almost 3 years.
My portfolio is diverse and I've been around the Internet since I was a wee little one, however, unlike our current generations of wee ones, I had to figure it out myself as the Internet was not, 20 years ago, what it is today. It was one hell of a scary unpolished and unpoliced place back then. These are the things I've picked up along the way.
Trust but verify. Don't just trust the first thing you read about a topic. Do counter research and explore all angles. It's tough not to get what you are hoping for when researching about that fabulous new gel brand with tonnes of on-trend colours. But your wallet, health and the health of your customers will thank you for it if you find all the facts.
The same applies to your questions on social media and respective answers. Asking for an opinion is one thing. If what you want is facts, then look at MSDS sheets, ask the brand all the questions, and consult with a well-established pro.
As a rule of thumb, follow the process below:
- Start with a simple Google Search: make sure to read brand materials first, break it down into product ingredients or technique materials depending on what you are looking for. Go deeper and research into these.
- Counter search: for whatever claims, or information you find try to understand whether there is conflicting data or information that disproves what you find. Say you see that an ingredient in a product is carcinogenic, or that a study was conducted about it. Search through similar studies or articles that may prove or rebut that information.
- Ask the pros and the industry leaders: In every industry, there are figures that represent a wealth of knowledge and are a precious source of information. Look for, preferably people who write or speak with some knowledge of the biology and science behind things. Very often these are published authors, renowned educators or speakers, and you can most likely name a few. They will have books you can read, podcasts you can listen to, webinars, magazine articles, you name it! They will have put their knowledge out there for us to reach out to because they want their industry to thrive.
Doug Schoon, the author of Face-To-Face with Dough Schoon Volume I: Science and Facts about Nails/nail Products for the Educationally Inclined, is my go-to source for the science behind everything in the nail industry. I'm sharing here my affiliate link for the book. He has come up with a volume two for this, but I believe it is not available on Amazon yet. And so is Marian Newman, the author of The Complete Nail Technician, now in its fourth edition, and this is also my affiliate link for the book. This is currently on my shopping basket!
If you are interested in the business side of the industry or are looking to become more business savvy, I highly recommend reading and listening to Tina Alberino (also sharing my Amazon affiliate link for her latest book which, you guessed! Is also on my shopping cart!), or Elizabeth Morris.
- Ask for peer feedback: It's perfectly okay to sanity check with your peers, and social media is a quick and easy way to reach your peers. So long as you do it in reputable Facebook pro groups, preferably closed groups that only allow for pro membership, or in industry forums. This ensures you have the opinions of well-informed, well-educated peers that will provide honest, factual thoughts on whatever you are asking.
The Nail Addict Society and the Nail Professionals Technical are brilliant if you want to ask your peers. So is the peer forum Salon Geek.
Last, but not least, make up your mind! If it helps jot down the pros and cons of whatever is boggling your mind, or of that big decision you need to make. By now, if you've followed the steps above, you will surely make an informed, if not brilliant decision.
To sum this up neatly and quickly - Do your work as it is your job to do so. Read about it and ask the pros, don't settle for asking your Facebook friends - you wouldn't want your doctor to be searching for matching illnesses for your ailments on Facebook, would you?