Lets talk about the standard (and effective) methods that are helpful for growing our business.
Network, Network, Network
1. Go to local mixers and professional gatherings.
Unless you make a point of meeting people, you could possibly end up being an awkward wallflower or talking to one or two people the entire night—one being the bartender and the other your best friend you coerced into coming with you.
If you’re a people person and love chatting it up, then mixers might totally be your jam. If the idea of standing in front of a room to talk about shoulder mechanics immediately has you clenching all sphincters, perhaps consider other ways to connect with people.
2. Make an informational brochure to hand out that details your clinical services.
#Printshop for the win. I totally just aged myself.
3. Pass out business cards
I could literally write an entire article about this one topic alone but, for brevity’s sake: Don’t skimp on quality. Make them unique. Always follow up with emails, assuming you collected cards as well.
4. Introduce yourself to other clinicians in your area
There are so many ways to do this. Starting with “Hi. My name is ____” usually works.
5. Host workshops
This is actually a pretty fun one and works well if you’re comfortable presenting. I did this quite often during my career and it always ended up proving invaluable for gaining credibility and interacting with my community of clientele and fellow practitioners.
Tip: don’t come across as a jerky know-it-all. Be confident, not condescending. Pick topics you’re well versed in and comfortable answering questions about, but also don’t be afraid to not know the answer to something. Be human. People are connecting with your energy just as much as your knowledge.
6. Market yourself to your niche clientele.
Is your niche pregnant athletes or new moms? Find local Meetup groups. (Don’t act like a creepy stalker and just show up.)
Contact the Meetup organizer first and offer to come chat with the ladies about a specific tissue issue they might be dealing with during pregnancy and how you can help. Offer a special discount for members of that group.
Is your niche CrossFit? Find a local box and offer to come talk about the mechanics of the shoulder during the stabilization of an overhead load.
Is your environment more geared toward the spa experience? Find a local Mary Kaye, Avon or other such rep who hosts parties, and collaborate to create an experience for the guests that includes massage.
Just some ideas—but you get the picture. Think outside the box and find ways to connect with people in their natural habitats.
7. Write articles for your local newspaper or local magazine.
Newspapers and magazines are often looking for content. If you’ve got a knack for arranging some words into comprehensible sentences and some relevant topic ideas to pitch, find out who you need to talk to and get in touch.
Those are some of the more traditional network-ish things that we can be doing in order to help our business grow. We have to put ourselves out there if we want people to know what we do, that we do it well, and that we’re open for business.
But they’re not the only ways—and maybe not even the most effective was. We haven’t even touched social media yet but let’s, shall we?
Let’s face it, many of us would rather scroll through our Instagram feed between clients than reach out to that really awesome physical therapy clinic across town we keep hearing about.
Don’t lie. We all do it.
But maybe we’re on to something. Because maybe, the folks at that physical therapy clinic would rather scroll through their Instagram feed too. Hmmm.
Now. before my overachievers start protesting such allegations, relax. If you’re an absolute ninja at networking and you get referrals from nearly every clinic in town through the old school (and very effective) methods mentioned above, hats off to you my friend. Stellar work.
It takes a lot of commitment and cajones to put yourself out among other clinical professionals. I know. I did it for more than two decades, and I did it well.
If you’re a newbie just starting out and trying to wrap your head around the hustle factor, don’t get overwhelmed. Be strategic. Plan. Play to your strengths.
But, let’s take an educated look at the world of social media marketing from a networking perspective. If you’re operating a business, you have a social media presence. Or, at least you should. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook. It goes without saying that your business should have its own separate account and not be mixed in with your personal account.
To find clients and even other practitioners to collaborate with, you have to get in front of them, meet them where they are, and offer realistic solutions for their challenges.
This applies to every business.
Stand Out Socially
In the case of massage therapy, strategically positioning your social media platform in front of your potential clients and professional peers is a modern and effective method of standing out in a sea of business cards left on the tables at that last mixer you went to.
It’s not just about pretty pictures for Instagram or wordy flexing on Facebook with all your knowledge. People are craving real connection and you’ve got about three seconds to grab their attention before you get scrolled past.
First, nothing about what you do and your expertise or specialty should be hard to understand the second someone sees your post or profile. Be clear and concise in your bio about how you can help them.
Identify yourself as a local, therapeutic resource and Know.Your.Audience. If you specialize in helping golfers, don’t post about football or what you had for breakfast.
Offer valuable content that addresses your audience’s problems such as chronic low back pain, mechanics for a specific sport, or tips for relieving postural aches and pains after long days at the office.
Hashtags are your best friends. Hashtags function like your own personal batman beacon in the sky. Your beacon is calling your audience to your profile. For example, grab your phone and open Instagram. I’ll pretend you didn’t already have it open since this article is so riveting.
OK, open up the search function and go to “tags.” It’s the third option to the right at the top of your screen.
Type “(your city) massage” into the search field; i.e., “DenverMassage”.
In that particular example, 3,717 posts tagged #DenverMassage come up.
“How is this relevant to networking, Stace???”
Well, young Jedi, in the palm of your hand, you now potentially have over 3,000 business cards of people in your city that are somehow related to massage therapy. What’s even better is that you can now do all your research while lounging in your PJs and sipping coffee.
Finding local practitioners whom you’d like to potentially reach out to for collaboration or referrals, or to attend one of their workshops can be had with a little hashtag know how. And when those mixers come up, you can show up with plans to connect in person to the people you’ve been talking to on social media.
“Hi! It’s so nice to finally meet you in person, _____.” #winning
It’s not a matter of just sliding a fellow peer a direct message, though. Make a sincere connection by interacting with them on their posts. Interaction is not defined by mere emojis. Be genuine the same way you would want them to be with you. This isn’t about gaining followers (although that usually results), this is about business networking.
Don’t think they’re not going to check out your profile. They absolutely will. You want to make sure your bio and posts are clear, polished and engaging regarding mutual or complimentary content. Your profile is your first impression. Make it stand out.
In addition to communicating with other professionals, your posts should be offering valuable content to your potential clients. If you’re comfortable with shooting video, Instagram gives you 60 seconds on the mic to chat about how checking gait pattern might be relevant to that low back and sciatic issue clients are experiencing and how you can help them with that.
Don’t make every post a commercial, though. Offer tips that people can implement themselves at home to ease some of their achy bits. And.Use.Relevant.Hash.Tags.
If you’re on Facebook or LinkedIn, use the search function and proceed the same way. Make genuine connections that make sense to all parties involved. Always approach with a mindset of how you can serve, not how you can take. It will come back to you tenfold.
I could talk about business strategies like this for days, but I hope this little bit shed some new perspective on ways to use your thumbs. Happy networking.
About the Author:
Stacey Thomas, LMT, SFMA, FMS, NKT, ART, CF-L2, has been a movement specialist since 1997, and licensed as a sports massage therapist since 2005. You can find her teaching a of ROCKTAPE class, speaking at national massage conventions or camping with her dog, Charlie. Her articles for MASSAGE Magazine include “The Emerging Science on the Benefits of Cupping” and “Treating Lymphedema with Kinesiology Tape and IASTM Tools.”