Image for E180: My Experience With Networking and Getting Out of My Comfort Zone


Allissa went to a networking event and has a story to tell.

Sponsored by: Gift Up! and The Jojoba Company.

Resources we mention:


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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.

MR We’re your hosts. Welcome, welcome. Glad to have you with us today. We have a treat for you today. I’m just going to skip the banter today. Is that okay, Allissa?

AH No, it is not okay. I need you to ask me about my week.

MR Well, okay. I was going to segue to that. But, yes, how was your week?

AH I have a new grandbaby.

MR Oh, I’m so sorry. I was excited about your networking experience, which is why I was going to skip the banter and jump straight to that saying there was a special treat because I couldn’t wait to hear about your networking experience. But the more important news is you have a grandbaby. Tell us about that.

AH I have a grandbaby. And he’s super cute. I can’t believe you tried to deny me the opportunity to talk about him.

MR I am so sorry.

AH On this, the fifth day of his life.

MR How rude of me.

AH Yes, yes. My step-daughter from my marriage long ago is just a grownup now and has birthed a child and his name is Caleb and he is 7 pounds and he is delightful and he squeaks and his nose is perfect. And I promise I will not blather on about this for the remainder of our podcast lifetime, but I get this once chance. And, yes, there will totally be a picture of me and this baby in the podcast notes because he is just delightful. He was born on the 13th and his very first birthday next year is going to be Friday, the 13th, and I think that that’s just great.

MR Blather away. I love it.

AH Everybody is doing well. My step-daughter is doing well. Everybody is doing well and delighted. And that is how my week has been. Michael, how are you?

MR I am doing well. I am excited to hear — I want you to blather a little more because this is very exciting. And you’re his, is it [meer-meer]?

AH [meh-may].

MR [meh-may], sorry.

AH No, it’s one of those — it’s a French word that’s got a lot of accents and it’s got an “R” at the end because we as the Canadian French family that we are just like to make things complicated. So yes, I am a memere.

MR [meh-may], okay.

AH It’s very exciting and if anyone’s tired of hearing it then get your own darned podcast and you can use it to talk about your own grandchildren. But this is my one. This is my one chance and every client coming in this week is going to see a picture of this baby because he’s super cute.

MR He is adorable.

AH But after that, I will let it all go and I will not be like that. It’s just mandated for the first seven days of his life.

MR I think that’s more than fair.

AH He’s really cute. I just got an updated picture of him taking a little nap because that’s pretty much all they do for a while.

MR Yeah, sure.

AH And yeah, it’s delightful. I am just super excited and pleased. And that is — that’s the news from here.

MR Wonderful. And you will be posting pictures in the show notes you said?

AH I will post a picture. I do have a thing about posting pictures of other people’s kids and kids faces and stuff online. So there will be the one and then you probably won’t see anything but the back of his head for — at least not on my feed.

MR Sure.

AH So that’s how I feel about that. But he’s super cute.

MR Congratulations.

AH Thank you. Thank you very much.

MR Very exciting.

AH Very good times over here. What have you been up to? What’d you have for lunch today, Michael?

MR Nothing that exciting. I had Chipotle.

AH Nice.

MR It’s kind of the standard. Chipotle or sushi. I’m very predictable.

AH You’re living the life.

MR I know. I got queso on my bowl today.

AH Ooh. I like their queso. It’s really good.

MR Yeah, I usually do queso, guac, sprinkle some chips in, mix it up a little bit. Yeah, pretty tasty.

AH I’m going to bring this all together. Have you seen the series of pictures online that show burritos next to babies to measure the size of the burrito and measure the size of the baby?

MR No! How did I miss this?

AH You need to google this because it’s a hilarious series of pictures of babies being measured against sizes of burritos. [laughs] You’re welcome, everyone.

MR Sounds brilliant.

AH So how about we get to what we’re actually here for today?

MR Oh, sure, why not. Before I completely steamrolled over your news about your grandbaby, I was also very excited to hear about your networking experience because you told me you got out of your comfort zone and went to a networking event and were going to report back to us.

AH Yeah.

MR So let’s hear. What happened?

AH Yeah, so I went to a thing. This is a group of women — it’s a women’s networking thing. They meet one Tuesday morning a month, September through June every year. They take a couple months off on the summer. It’s just a town over from me. It literally is like an eighth of a mile from where I used to live until I moved. I have never been able to get there because it’s one Tuesday a month from 9 a.m. to 11, and I have regular Tuesday morning clients. So anytime my Tuesday morning client cancelled, I’d be like, Oh, maybe I can go. Or my 9 a.m. client cancelled and I’d be like, Maybe I can go to this, and I’d be like, Oh, this goes to 11 and I’d have a 10:30 client. So the stars aligned for last week and on Monday afternoon, my 9 a.m. cancelled and I didn’t have the 10:30 that day. I was like — oh, no, it wasn’t even — it was 5 days beforehand when I found out my morning was free and I was like, Oh, well, let me look it up and I looked at it and this was the week of that networking event because it’s once a month. I was like, Uh, I should go to that. I need to write that down on my calendar. And for whatever reason, my phone rang or something happened and I didn’t put the note in the calendar to go. So then, I don’t know, 6 or 8 hours later I’m like, Oh, I have Tuesday morning off, I’m going to schedule my own massage. So I schedule this massage with my friend and I’m going to like — and she’s about 40 minutes away so we don’t do it a lot and I saw that she had an opening in her schedule — I saw that she had a big opening in her schedule. I was like, Hey, how about I come for a massage and then we go to breakfast next Tuesday morning and she’s like, Great, that’ll be awesome. So I schedule and then I realize a couple hours later I’m like, Oh, I was going to go to that networking thing. I was like, Oh, well, never mind, I don’t really want to go to that networking thing anyway. Because I don’t. But I do. I want to go because I know it’s good for me, and yet I avoid it because I hate these things and it’s way out of my comfort zone.

So the night before, Monday night, my friend is like, Listen, I’m really sick. We got to cancel your massage. She’d kind of given me a head’s up over the weekend she wasn’t feeling well, so I was expecting this, and she cancelled. Totally cool. Jen, I want you to be able to breathe; I’m glad we cancelled. But then I’m like, Ugh, I could really go to this networking thing. Obviously, the stars are aligning here and I really need to push myself and I need to go. So I text my friend Melanie who’s been part of this women’s group for a long time. And mind you, this has been years that I have known about this group existing and I’ve never gone. And I’ve sent a couple of the people I work with, one of the yoga instructors here at my office, I’ve sent her to the group and she’s joined and become a member. This is ridiculous that I haven’t been. So I text Melanie and say, I’m thinking of going to the group tomorrow. Do I need to do anything to register in advance; am I okay to just walk in. She’s like, Yep, just walk in. It’s 10 or 15 bucks to be a guest, and if you decide to join, you can apply that to your membership. And I’ll be there at 9 and I’ll see you there.

So I try to get myself out of it and then all of these stars aligned and I committed to a friend the night before to really push myself to do it. So I did it; I went. And it was a standard, structured networking group, not as intense as BNI, and it was all women. When I walked in, the registration was really smooth and they give me a name tag and they’re all very friendly. And if Melanie hadn’t walked in with me, I know the woman who checked people in would have walked me into the room herself because I saw her do that with some other guests. Lovely group. Coffee and mingling. I stuck mostly with my friend, Melanie, but also when she was talking to somebody and somebody else approached, I talked to a stranger all on my own. Mel had kind of given me the head’s up, kind of pointed around, and been like, That woman’s really cool, I know her; that one you want to be mindful of, don’t say too much in front of her, she’s a little scary; dut-dut-dut-dut-dut. I did a good job. I was really proud of myself. And I asked people what they did and I asked them more — like, when somebody was like, I’m a real estate agent, I was like, Really? What areas do you cover, what kinds of real estate? I really made it a point to learn about people and I got a few cards just in that beginning mingling thing. I did the thing, which was really nice and I was very proud of myself.

I also knew my limits When I was starting to feel, like 20 minutes in when there was still a few minutes left of mingle time and a very assertive and scary lady was like, Why don’t you come over here and I’ll introduce you to these five people, I thankfully was still standing next to Melanie, and I said actually, Melanie needs my help with a thing — because she was busting out her computer to help them with some PowerPoint thing — and I was like, I gotta help Melanie with this thing, but we’ll catch up later. So I totally knew my limits and that I didn’t want to go off with the scary-aggressive lady because she was just making me flinch in a lot of ways.

So mingling wrapped up. I loved it because they started on time, they did a little update about their group and a little welcome back because this was their first meeting since their summer break. Then they had two 10-minute presentations. One was a woman in the group talking about her business. The other one — they were short a presenter because this was their first meeting of the year, so they actually talked about their networking group’s new website and login and stuff, which was really efficient and helpful. It’s nice to see how they operate.

Then there was a small group activity. There’s probably like 25 women there, and so we broke into small groups of four or five. It was great because — and I mentioned this last week — the small group activity — I’m just pulling my worksheet out — was creating an impressionable introduction. So it was all honing down your elevator speech in accordance with your niche. And I had just done all of this, so I’ve done all of the work to rebrand my massage practice, so I already had the bulk of this done, which was really nice because we’re breaking into small groups. I’m nervous because now I have to really talk to people. And there’s an assignment. Thankfully, I look at the worksheet and I almost started laughing because I’ve done this. This is not stressful for me. I already know what to do. I filled in my blanks and everybody finished and then we were supposed to talk amongst our small group. It was really nice. It was nice to be in my comfort zone for a few minutes of knowing I have totally nailed this down. And it’s also nice to see how far you’ve come when there’s someone there who does not do as well at the activity. I want everyone to succeed, but sometimes it’s nice not to be the dumbest person in the room, so I enjoyed that. Someone who just really could not nail down their niche and even after her 30-second thing took her 2 and a half minutes, I still had no idea what she does. And some other people in my small group helped her kind of hone it a little bit.

It went well. I don’t think I embarrassed myself. Somebody else in my small group realized I was at the same location as this other yoga instructor who was in the group — she wasn’t at that meeting, but she joined up last year. So she was asking me about the place and about my practice and that was really — I got asked about myself so I got to talk about myself a little bit, which was nice. It went really well. I was really happy with how it went and I didn’t screw up. So yay.

MR Yay.

AH Yay. I do want to talk about — after our halftime sponsor, we’re going to jump into a few things that I struggled with and that I continually struggle with on networking things and a few things I haven’t done that weren’t as great. So, Michael, who is our halftime sponsor today?

MR You ready for this?

AH Bring it.

MR You ready?

AH Uh-huh.

MR It is our friend at The Jojoba Company.

AH Yay!

MR Like how I changed things up there?

AH That was pretty exciting. Wait till you see what I’m about to do.

Sponsor message I’m excited to talk about the Jojoba Company today because I just poured some into an 8-oz. bottle to bring to my step-daughter and her baby for baby massage. Because you can totally use jojoba on a baby, on any baby, because it’s non-allergenic, and this is really good for us as massage therapists and grandparents, because we can use it on anybody without the fear of the client having an allergic reaction. It doesn’t clog their little newborn pores and old people pores. It doesn’t go rancid. What I want to talk about, specifically, about The Jojoba Company — you can get jojoba in a variety of places. I choose The Jojoba Company because they are the only company in the world that carries the 100% pure first-pressed quality jojoba. Other companies will try to squeeze that jojoba as much as they can, get as much of the liquid from the seed as they possibly can. Whereas, The Jojoba Company does a light press, a first press, on the seed and they get a little less in quantity but it’s the higher quality jojoba. And it is the best quality jojoba on the market. You can learn more at massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. That’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/J-O-J-O-B-A.

AH That’s what I have. You used it on Eli, too. We got you some of that.

MR Yeah, it’s great stuff.

AH It’s so good. I know you keep using too, all winter on your hands.

MR Yeah, it’s really good stuff. It feels awesome.

AH So some things I struggle with in networking, and specifically in women’s business networking, and this definitely came up for me. I even made notes during the meeting last week because it’s a thing I really struggle with. There’s so many women’s businesses that are oriented towards beauty and body stuff. I kind of looked around the room and I looked at the list of members of this group. And there’s some attorneys with different specialties, there’s real estate agents, there’s someone in insurance, all the standard service kind of things. But there’s also a lot of — there’s some supplements and then beauty stuff. And I really struggle with that because I can’t refer and I won’t refer to business that tell women, or anyone, that anything is inherently wrong with their bodies. And it really hit me more and more last week when I was in this meeting, and the woman doing her 10-minutue presentation — it’s a wonderful company and it’s all about being super Earth-friendly and really not putting a lot of the dangerous preservatives and stuff into the products they use — but still a lot of the product line is anti-wrinkle, anti-this. Somebody else there was laser for hair and laser for cellulite, and I struggle really hard being in networking groups with other businesses when the business is based on telling people there is something wrong with how their body naturally is. And I can’t get into that. And it makes me cringe. And it makes me cringe to the point where I don’t — I tend to shy away from women’s networking groups.

So if anybody else has experienced this and has thoughts about it, I want to hear how you resolve and work through that. Do you just not refer to those businesses? Which is totally legit. And yeah, I probably could be part of this group and just not refer to that particular person. But it makes me uncomfortable. And especially a lot of these health supplement companies. They really walk a fine line with making claims about health stuff. So there’s this person who sells this supplement, particularly shakes, and she said, Right now, I’m really looking to work with more young moms and specifically young moms with kids with special needs and autism. And that immediately sets off a thing for me because I work with that community, and the woman said, We’ve had great results with these supplements for kids with autism. And I just cringe in so many ways because I see so many parents grasping straws to deal with various issues with their kids with disabilities, and there’s just so much snake oil. It just makes me cringe. So I struggle in a lot of these groups because there are so many women involved in beauty/body/health stuff and so many of it walks a fine line of body shaming and/or essential oil stuff. I love essential oils, but there are some salespeople who really make claims that make me uncomfortable. So I struggle with that a lot, which made me immediately shut my brain off and not listen to the rest of the presentation and it made me really uncomfortable. And especially because in that group someone said, Oh, you’re a massage therapist. Have you heard about Wendy’s supplements — this lady — have you heard about her supplements? Yeah, I met this woman at a networking group years ago and she totally conned me into meeting with her and then tried to get me to sell her supplements for her and I’m just like, ugh. It’s hard because I don’t want to talk smack about it. But I’m also not going to say anything that would endorse the use of these supplements as if they were some miracle cure for autism. So I struggle with that really hard. So that’s an issue for me that I might need your help working through, Michael. Or not.

And also I want to point out that I was really proud of myself for getting through my comfort zone going to this thing, actually meeting people, taking a couple cards. I totally want to call the insurance broker about getting a new quote for my car insurance, but it’s been a week and I’ve done absolutely nothing to follow up. So there’s that. You know the key to networking, of course, is following up.

So, Michael, with all of that in mind, what tips do you have for me moving forward if I got to this group a few more times should I get the right morning off. Or should I find another group?

MR Yeah, there’s a lot to unpack here.

AH I know. Here you go.

MR [laughs] I get the impression that most of the attendees of this networking event were the MLM supplement —

AH No. Not most of them by any means. Not even half of them.

MR Oh, okay.

AH But in the group of 25 women, there were probably four off the top of my head. There was one that wasn’t MLM, but it was laser, cellulite, and hair removal. There was an MLM supplement. There was two cosmetic skincare lines.

MR Gotcha. Okay. So it sounds like most of the people there were not in that line. Like you said, attorneys and professionals, etc.

AH Yeah.

MR So are you able to kind of maybe just ignore those who are in that body and supplement world and focus on the others if you were to go again or if you were to participate.

AH Yeah. Probably, but I feel like I would still feel some discomfort when other people are like, Oh, have you heard of that supplement? or You work with bodies, what do you think of that cellulite thing? I think I would find a hard time finding something nice to say.

MR Well, I’m instinctively playing devil’s advocate any other way because I’m sensing your resistance and I understand that. So I’m wondering on the other side, is it possible this could be a teaching opportunity to help educate people what you do and maybe have a conversation with them about the claims they are making, and if you wanted to, I guess, spend that much effort, I guess you could say, Hey, I’m willing to learn more, but I’m not comfortable with these types of claims, tell me your stance. Maybe open a conversation with people to figure out what they’re really saying and maybe persuade them to be a little more responsible. That may be a burden you’re not interested in taking on, but that’s where my head’s going.

AH Yeah, and I see that.

MR Or ignore them.

AH It makes me tired.

MR Yeah.

AH I think ignoring them would probably work best.

MR Well, you’ll have those people in every group. Even in BNI chapters, you’ll always have people that are in that line of business. There’s always a few MLMs, there’s always some people that are doing supplements, there’s always some wellness industry people that are probably doing supplements that are making claims that are a little bit too far. You’re always going to have that. I don’t think that’s necessarily just specific to the group you went to. I think it’s all networking.

AH I definitely feel it more in the women’s groups that I have visited —

MR Okay. Okay.

AH — because I have been to a couple of women’s specific. And it is probably the thing I struggle most with in women-specific groups. But you do not have that experience because you probably have not been to women-specific events.

MR That’s true, so I don’t have that frame of reference, yeah.

AH Which is why I’m reaching out to you, my dear listeners. Talk to me. Leave some comments. Drop us some emails. I’m curious what your experience has been.

MR Well, like I said, I don’t think that a few — I’m not going to call them bad apples — but I don’t think a few questionable members should dissuade you from finding value in the group. So if you really do want to network, I would say go for it and find people that you really relate to. Because you’re never going to relate to everybody in the group. It’s just not going to happen.

AH Right.

MR Do you plan to go back?

AH I think — I didn’t join up because, again, the scheduling issue. But I think that should I end up with the right Tuesday morning free, I would go back. I would utilize — I am trying to, even when my client cancels, use that time to promote my massage practice to work on my massage practice in some way or another. So yes. I would go back as a guest a couple of more times if I can free up that Tuesday morning.

MR Gotcha.

AH And I did actually put notes in my schedule for the next, whatever, six or nine meetings that they have so if that Tuesday morning clears, I will go. And there’s a 50/50 chance, you know?

MR Are you hesitant because of the experience you had with those members or because — and this is because I know you personally — does networking just make you tired in general? What about it was causing hesitation mostly?

AH You know, I’m not sure. I just find it all very draining.

MR [laughs] It can be very draining, yes.

AH And I know that part of that’s getting over the hump, too. If I was to follow up and do a one-to-one with people, that would be way less draining to me. Meeting someone for coffee for half an hour is way less draining than doing two hours at this event with 25 people.

MR Yeah.

AH So maybe that’s what I need to do. Maybe I need to follow up with my friend, Melanie, who was there and who is really good at this and maybe have her help me through who would be best to set up a one-to-one with. She knows everybody really well. And maybe even do something jointly with her. That could be a good — we both advocated for each other and referred people to each other for several years, so we’re really good buddies that way. I don’t know, we’ll have to see.

MR Have you ever thought about starting your own networking group?

AH I have. I’ve thought about it a million times, and I just can’t seem to get the scheduling to happen. The time that I —

MR Other people’s schedules or your schedule?

AH All of the above. I have looked at setting a certain time and the time that I have free and that my space is free, no one else could come. And I’ve tried that with two different time slots and it has gone nowhere. And then I’ve been like okay, well, maybe we don’t need to do this.

MR The reason I asked is you’re like me in that you’re very picky about networking. Just like I am. Most networking is cheesy and annoying and just has all sorts of issues. That’s why I like the idea of starting — I have done that — start my own networking group and run it the way you want to. And that could be a good route to go as well.

AH It could be and I might think about that. I think the worst case scenario — and this is my “to wrap it up” thought — I think it’s important even if you know you’re not going to join a group, even if you know it’s not the thing that you’re going to most be in love with, to do these kinds of things anyway every so often — it had been about a year since I did anything like this — and if only because it reminds me that I hate doing things like this and so I best get off my butt about the other things I can do to bring a few more clients into my practice. So if nothing else, being exposed to something that I dislike forces me to put more effort into the things that are more tolerable and that will also bring me clients.

MR [laughs] I like it. If you do those things, you won’t have to network as much.

AH This is exactly it. And so because of this, I spent a couple hours last week thinking about what I was going to do — six months from now, I would like to have ten more clients a month than what I have right now. So I need to bring in a handful more clients. What I thought about last week after I did this networking thing was okay, I need to do a reboot on my referral thank yous and programs and how I’m going to ask people for referrals. I need to get off my butt and finish making — when I did my rebrand into massage for people with anxiety in the spring, I created this list of 15-20 different blog posts I wanted to write. I have not written one. I have not so much as made one video. I have been doing certain things, I have taught some people some breathing techniques, I’ve done some other things, but I have yet to put them into video or written form that other people can see that would convince them to come see me as their massage therapist. After this networking event last week, I was like okay, it’s time to get off my butt on those, and I went through that list and prioritized and I have some time set aside to do some recording. And I made an appointment for a haircut so that I would feel better on camera and look better. And I will be able to do some recording after my haircut on Thursday.

MR Nice.

AH So that’s my silver lining and end of my story about my networking experience.

MR [laughs] Well, I think it’s cool that you tried, and I think that’s the thing that a lot of massage therapists need to remember is just try. You don’t have to be a BNI member your entire life. You don’t have to commit to everything. But it’s useful to go try things. Go try a new group. Go attend a meeting and see what you think. Getting out there and just trying something is a learning experience in itself.

AH Yeah. Even though it might not be the thing for me, I’m really proud of myself. And I thank you, everybody, for listening to this very long story.

MR Well, if you go back, I would love to hear an update.

AH Will do.

MR All right. Well, thanks, everyone, for joining us today. We are happy you are with us. You can find us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you have any feedback, any love notes, hate mail, reviews, questions for us, topics you want us to cover next time around, email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com, and we get those emails and try to respond to all of them. So thank you very much.

I forgot once again that I was going to read some of our new iTunes reviews on the air. So I will do that next time. Try to remind me. I will make myself a note also because we got some new reviews that we appreciate. On that note, we would love iTunes reviews. We appreciate all those who have given us reviews. It helps other people like you find us. Thank you for that.

With that, we’ll wrap there. Thanks, everyone, for joining us today. We’ll see you next time.

AH Bye.