Networking to Grow your Massage Business
by Irene Diamond
Building your massage therapy business is easier, faster and less costly when you incorporate a healthy dose of building relationships. Your relationships with people are what ultimately drive the success (or worse, the failure) of your massage business, because it is the people you interact with who will become your customers, refer others to you, and help you run your business when it is time to expand.
You’ve probably heard these three phrases before regarding business:
“People do business with people they know.” “It’s not your net worth that is important, but your NET-WORK”. Or “It’s not WHO you know or WHAT you know… but who knows YOU!”
There are four relationships you want to consider ‘growing’: vendors, customers, referring partners and your support team. They all should get your tender loving care.
Networking in person is key to making great relationships. I have to tell you about a cool incident that happened at a networking event I attended. It was not for massage therapists, but for small business owners wanting to grow their business. I went specifically because I wanted to meet the man who was throwing the event. I’ve admired him for the last few years for his business acumen and he was influential regarding my business. I’ve purchased his products and studied his programs, I’ve followed his examples and used what I’ve learned from him over the years to grow my online business and my massage business. You may have heard his name, Alex Mandossian.
I had never seen him ‘live’, so I went to his event. Now, just a little background- this guy makes beaucoup bucks. He is among the best internet marketers in the world, and is very sought after.
At the event we spoke briefly and I shared an idea I had. From that simple conversation, he actually handed me his card, wrote his home number down on the back and invited me to set a time for me to come to his HOME to discuss the concept. HOW COOL IS THAT?
Yep, simple to say – if I had not gone to the networking event, I would never have met him in person, and we would not have set a date for me to go to his home.
If you want to grow your business this year, do whatever you have to, to be at any and all massage conventions or other networking opportunities, you’ll see so many benefits.
Why? Simply because you can establish and nurture relationships better through meeting new contacts and seeing ‘old’ contacts face to face.
At the live events you attend, you’ll also have access to the best instructors, educators and thought-leaders, from whom you can attain information, insight, and continuing education, and you will have the ability to network with a fabulous group of people who can help your massage practice grow while you are helping their business grow too!
So, stop your procrastination, excuses or what-have-you for not going to these net amazing working events…. They will change your life!
Yes, Networking Can Be Scary:
Yeah, I hear you mumbling under your breath, “but I don’t like networking.” And, some of you might be asking, “How can other massage therapists help me grow my massage practice?”
Trust me, you never know whom you might meet who might be of value to you in your practice. You might meet a therapist who has a client moving to your town so will gain a referral. You can meet distributors who can introduce you to a new product you can use in your practice. You can meet other people who you may be able to collaborate with on a new business idea. And, networking doesn’t have to be painful –- it can actually be really fun (with the right attitude.)
When you attend business events that are out of town, you will also have a ‘working vacation’ that is a tax write-off.
The Key To Networking Success:
When you meet new people, I suggest you ask them their name, what they do and who their best prospects are. This allows you to know if there is anyone in your ‘sphere of influence’ you can refer to them to help them grow their business. (Imagine how much they will love YOU if you help them!)
You, of course then can discuss what your massage practice specialty is and tell them who your ideal prospect is too. Be open to how the conversation flows, because you never know in advance if there will be any valuable connections that can be made, but as you know, it really is a small world!
I encourage you to think outside the box when you attend these events.
Most importantly, I want you to approach networking from a place of giving, rather than taking. Focus on how you can help your new friend (not how they can help you).
A really effective approach that is the opposite of what most people do, is to think how you can provide some benefit to the other person. When you approach your conversations from the perspective of how you can help them, you begin to think more creatively and you also show you care about them and not just thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’
Once you know what they need, you become a valuable resource to them, which builds the relationship. For example, you might have a client who needs a specific massage technique you don’t offer, but you can refer them to the new therapist you met, who does offer it. Or you might have an article on the latest research to you can send them regarding their client’s dysfunction, or a link to that website that will help them find a new massage table.
What I encourage you to do is first be of service to others and you will soon see how others are more willing to be of service to you!
How to make the best use of your massage networking efforts.
• Choose the right event based on the location, the speakers and possibly the most important element to help you choose the event, the other registrants you will meet.
• Set big goals for the event or meeting. Create your “Hit List”: Look at the list of presenters, sponsors, and advertisers and make a note of who or what organization or business you want to meet. If you don’t have anyone specific, be sure to mingle with a wide variety of people.
• Have up-to-date networking supplies: business cards, pen and paper. Keep them handy. Put your cards in one pocket and keep the new ones in another. (Do not use marketing materials that have information crossed out or updated—it’s tacky!)
• Most important – Smile and say hello and extend a warm handshake. Establish rapport by saying hello and give the other person an opportunity to begin the conversation. If they don’t take the ball, ask open-ended exciting questions, such as, “What is your biggest goal for this month?” Don’t ask them how their business is, because, unfortunately most therapists will respond in a negative way and then you’ll spend your valuable time complaining about the economy!
• Prepare a basic self-introduction or what I call your “Target-Market Commercial”.
Your ‘commercial’ is so you are well-prepared to respond to their inevitable question of what kind of massage practice you have. Your Target Market Commercial will let them know who your ideal client is, so they can identify who they can send your way! Rather than saying what style of massage you provide, discuss WHO it is best for. So, for example, you can say something like, “I work with pregnant women through trigger point massage to help them have an easier labor and delivery.”
This way, if they meet, know or have any pregnant women friends in their life, they are more apt to refer them to you because they now know you as a massage therapist who specializes in that specific niche or population.
• Learn people’s names and repeat it back to them when you first hear it. To be sure their name sticks in your mind, you’ve no-doubt heard the trick to spell it back to them and write it down or ask for a card so you can be sure to remember. Say your name slowly and clearly to help them remember you easier.
• If you are feeling nervous or don’t know who to speak with, look for loners who look more scared than you, and approach them. Make the effort to take the first step and you both will feel less anxious. Stay in the center of the action and don’t sit down! Act as if you are the host of the event and greet people to make them feel welcome. Shy people will love you for making the first step.
• If you exchange contact information, write some notes on their business card to help you remember them. Or, jot down something you want to find out for them so you can follow-up later. (I suggest you carry the small post-it notes so you can stick one on the business cards that are glossy to be able to write your notes.)
• Don’t get “stuck” speaking with the same person for too long since you want to move on and connect with other people. A nice way to make a graceful exit is to introduce her/him to another person and then as they begin to engage in the conversation, you can excuse yourself. Don’t make silly excuses such as you need to go to the bathroom, just be sincere in your thanks for their time and your delight in meeting them.
• If appropriate, follow-up with them within the next few days by email, mail or phone. You may have established a reason in your conversation to contact them, and if not, just a quick note to say ‘hi, it was nice meeting you’, will remind them of you. Relationships take time to build and again, I encourage you to think how you can help them with their business and offer your help rather than ask for them for something.
• When you get back to your office, be sure to add your new contacts to a tracking system, whether it be a software application or a simple excel spread sheet. Be sure to note what the nature of the relationship is, and the type of follow up you did. This way, you can continue to nurture the relationship over the years to come.
The bottom line is you and your massage practice will benefit tremendously when you attend live events and learn how to ‘tend to your garden’ by nurturing and growing your relationships. There is a huge value to put faces (and hugs) to names you might have only read about in a trade journal or publications, or correspond with online, such as your Facebook buddies.
Be adventuresome and open your mind to “tending your garden” of relationships so your massage practice will flourish and you can have the success you want.
I look forward to seeing you at the next live event!
(Be sure to come up and say hello when you see me… after all, I may be a little shy compared to you…)
Therapist and mentor, Irene Diamond’s eclectic adventures range from creating the world’s first wellness programs on international cruise ships, dancing professionally, mommy-ing two goofy kids; and recovering from paralysis due to a broken neck. Through her programs, seminars and written words, Irene helps therapists achieve both financial and clinical success.
She is excited to be holding her first, live business-building event and she invites you to www.DesignYourDreamPractice.com. Irene will be inducted into the World Massage Hall of Fame in 2013 for recognition of her contribution of the rehabilitation technique, Active Myofascial Therapy, (www.theDiamondMethod.com) and for her online business resource SuccessfulMassageTherapist.org.