There is one word that some people, including massage therapists, dread more than any other: networking. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, Google defines networking as “interacting with other people to exchange information and developing contacts, especially to further one’s career.”
For a lot of people, it’s not necessarily meeting other people that’s the problem, but it’s the interacting—the small talk, the process of building a professional relationship—that can be nerve wracking.
Yet networking is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your massage business. Not only can it bring you new clients, but it can also give you other professionals to talk to who know what you’re going through. They can help you if you need help learning a new technique or even if you just need to vent.
If you remember a few tips, networking really doesn’t need to be hard at all. And even if you have decided you’re just too nervous to stand by someone and talk with them face-to-face (many people can’t and there’s nothing wrong with that), there are other ways you can network that can be just as beneficial.
School and conferences are a great place to meet people and network with them. You can also talk to your clients and build a relationship with them. Sooner or later, they will start referring their friends to you. Then you have the opportunity to build network with these new clients and the cycle continues.
When you are networking with people, whether they are clients or other massage therapists, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- When you first meet someone, shake their hand with a firm grip and introduce yourself.
- Give people your full attention.
- Remember, the other person probably wants to network too and would probably like to learn more about you as well.
- In cases where you are networking with someone who is popular or who other people want to talk to, don’t hog the person’s time. Exchange information and continue the conversation later.
- It can be a good idea to have business cards with you to give out.
These are just a few tips to follow when networking face-to-face. If you are really nervous, it is ok to find someone you know well to practice with. Just be yourself and everything will be fine.
Other Ways to Network
If you don’t have the opportunity or are too nervous to network face-to-face, you have options to still get your name out there and network with other people.
One of the easiest things to do is to join a massage therapist forum. This gives you the chance to ask other professionals questions and to answer any questions they may have. As you post regularly, people will notice you and start to interact with you more and more. The key here is that you stay professional at all times. Nobody wants to network with someone who is rude or who never has anything good to say. Be positive and helpful and people will be attracted to you.
Another way to network online is to visit popular massage therapy blog posts and interact with the other visitors. Comment on the blog posts (always being polite) and contact the author of the post and let them know how much you enjoyed the post. Just as with forums, the more you post, the more likely it is that people will start to trust you and then you have an opportunity to form relationships.
There is one rule that you must follow in every instance when you are doing most of your networking online: Remember that EVERYTHING you post will be on the Internet for as long as the Internet is around. If you’re having a bad day and don’t feel like being nice, DO NOT post anything that day. One rude or overly negative comment can destroy the goodwill you have earned to that point. When in doubt, just don’t post.
No matter which way you network, it is a good practice that can help you gain new friends and find new clients.
Have other ways that you like to network?
Do you know of any upcoming conferences where attending massage therapists can find opportunities to grow their networks? Please comment below!
And if you need liability insurance for your massage business, BBI has you covered.