Episode 190

Nov 13, 2018

Crystal Williams joins the podcast to talk us through her structured process for effective (and less stressful) networking.

Listen to "E190: Practical Tips for Effective Networking (with Crystal Williams)" on Spreaker.
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Crystal Williams joins the podcast to talk us through her structured process for effective (and less stressful) networking.

Crystal is a massage therapist with a busy practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota specializing in therapeutic massage for shoulder issues including rotator cuff tears, impingement, bursitis and frozen shoulder.

Crystal believes that each of us have a unique purpose and calling in life. She also believes many people miss their calling due to fear, worry and self-sabotage. Her burning desire is to help others generate the courage they need to act in spite of fear so they can know their purpose and live their calling.

In this episode, we’re proud to support Healwell and their 2018 Giving Tuesday Campaign to raise $15,000. Healwell combines education, research, and service to improve quality of life for people affected by acute, chronic, and serious illness.

Also: Michael’s favorite CRM is HubSpot CRM (referenced in the episode).


Allissa Haines Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I am Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds And I’m Michael Reynolds.

AH And we’re super excited because we have a guest today. This is one of our guest episodes. Crystal Williams, say hello.

CW Hello, Allissa, Michael, and the MBB crew.

MR Hey, hey.

AH So let me tell you a little bit about Crystal Williams, and then I’ll stop talking. Crystal is a massage therapist with a very busy practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She specializes in therapeutic massage for shoulder issues including rotator cuff tears, impingement, bursitis, frozen shoulder. She helps her clients stay out of pain using orthopedic assessment, posture, and gait analysis, trigger point therapy, and corrective exercises. She does it all. Most importantly, and such a treasure for us here at Massage Business Blueprint, Crystal believes that each of us has a unique purpose and calling in life. She believes that people tend to miss their calling due to fear, worry, and self-sabotage. She wants to help others generate the courage they need to act in spite of their fear so they can know their purpose and live their calling. And she’s also a master, master networker, which is why we have her on today. Let’s jump right into our questions to get — our kind of generic interview questions to get a background on what people — what brought people into massage because this has been so illuminating and it’s become my favorite part of interview stuff, which I never thought is a thing I would say. Crystal, how did you get into massage and how long have you been doing this?

CW Yes, so I’ve been doing massage therapy about four years. Prior to that, my background is in fitness and corrective exercise. And prior to that, I worked for 12 years in the automotive industry in the service department with cars. Interestingly, the thing I liked about cars was the thing I liked about fitness and also the thing I like about working with the human body: the idea of being able to take a step back and treat the physical body kind of like the machine that it is, really. If we eliminate the emotional body and spiritual body and so forth, we’re kind of just puppets on a string in a way. So I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of massage therapy, and that’s what got me into it.

AH And what’s the evolution of your career been like? So you went to massage school, you got your completion cert or whatever happened. From that date, what next?

CW Yeah, so I went to massage school. I owned a gym at the time, and I thought massage would be an easy add-on for what I already owned. And then I learned that I actually love it and it’s super beneficial, and I am really glad I got involved in it. So it evolved from being a gym owner with massage on the side, to a full massage practice, and I’m currently — I closed the gym so I’m not involved in that part of the wellness world anymore. But I have a sole practice right now in a western suburb of Minneapolis, where I do my thing, and I really like it.

AH So tell us a little bit about your work now. And I covered a little bit in the bio, but give it to me in your words. What’s your daily private practice like?

CW Yeah, so I’m one of those who have really dove into the niching Kool-Aid — drunk the niching Kool-Aid.

MR We’re all about niching, so you go.

CW I know. And I am to. And I’ll talk more about that as we get into the rest of our networking tips But I have really niched down into neck and shoulder pain. So my clients come to me with shoulder pain, you know, kind of the common stuff that we tend to see: some front of the shoulder pain or the weekend warriors who pushed a little too hard with the pushups over the weekend and now they’ve got shoulder pain. I like niching in that because it’s a way that people can — I feel like there’re fewer variables when I’m working with a shoulder versus maybe a low back or something like that. So it allows people to get some results and, more importantly, some hope. So they get some relief a little quicker and they have some hope. My end game is always to empower people to realize they’re the expert of their own body. It’s never me and it’s never anyone else; that they’re the expert. The more that I can help them teach — I can teach them and help them learn about their own body. That’s really what I enjoy the most about it. A lot of my clients come to me for — they come for the massage and they stay for the education, is probably a summary.

AH Nice. So your approach to money and making money-related decisions has been something I really appreciate. You gave some advice once, I think it was in one of our premium member office hours where we all just kind of hang out in a virtual meeting and talk though various issues. I think you said, at one point, to look at the numbers. When you make tough decisions, do the math, look at the numbers, and let that guide your decision. That was really helpful to me. So I’m excited about our last interview-y question, which is what is your fantasy job, location, or training — your “if I win the lottery plan”, what happens to your career?

CW Okay, so if I won the lottery, honestly, I would still be doing what I do, I’d would just probably do it better and I would have prettier marketing material is what it would look like. I really, really enjoy talking about what we’re going to talk about today. I really love the idea of massage therapists in particular just really owning their skill and their craft and taking a hold of their worth and their value in the marketplace because — I mean, we have a product that is legal, drug-free, and effective. And this is something that people need and I would travel all around and have really great events and serve good food.

AH I would go to that event.

MR Good food, I’m in. Sign me up.

CW Grocery store sushi for everyone.

AH [Indiscernible] show up.

MR I want my sushi delivered by robots.

CW I’ll buy a robot when I win the lottery.

AH Excellent. So before we launch into your tips for effective networking, Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor today?

MR We’re going to give a shout out to Healwell. The Giving Tuesday campaign is coming up so we want to make sure we give a shout out to them and make sure we draw awareness to what they’re doing.

AH Yeah, Giving Tuesday this year in November 27th, 2018 — if you’re listening to this right away. And we are super excited to support Healwell. Healwell is an organization that combines education, research, and service to improve quality of life for people affected by acute, chronic, and serious illness. They’re doing a bunch of different things. They are training massage therapists to work in clinical hospital environments. They are hosting classes all over to help massage therapists be better massage therapists and to really improve the quality of life for people affected with illness.

They are looking to raise $15,000 and 20 new recurring monthly donors of which I am one. And that’s part of their Giving Tuesday campaign. So you can learn more about them at healwell.org. And in the show notes, we’ll have a link to their special Giving Tuesday campaign. And if you’re listening to this after Giving Tuesday, you can still go to healwell.org, learn about what they do, and perhaps feel really good about becoming a monthly donor. And I think once you see what they’re doing, how they’re leading the conversation from meaningful integration of massage into healthcare, you’re going to be really impressed and want to give them your $5, $10, $15 a month. And that is what I have to say about Healwell.

MR We heart Healwell.

AH We really, really do. We’ll spend more time talking about them at another time. But for now, I want to let Crystal and Michael, probably, take this away —

MR [laughs]

AH — this —

MR Are you suggesting I like networking as much as Crystal?

AH I am. And I want you know, everybody, this episode came about because I shared an experience going to a networking group, and I got a lot of really interesting feedback, positive and negative, from people. And people started asking a lot of questions about different networking groups and different techniques and some complaints and some cheers and all of these things. And Crystal really popped into our premium member thread with ideas and thoughts and started a whole thread that was like “throw your networking questions at me; I want to answer them.” And that is how this episode came about. We heard our members say we need more information on this, and we wanted to bring it to everyone. So we’re getting around the podcast. So, Crystal, take it away with your tips for really great networking.

CW Oh, thank you so much. I’m going to preface this by saying that I believe — well, this whole thing’s just going to be just Crystal’s opinions on all of this, so I guess that’s one preface.

MR Hey, we invited you, that’s why you’re here.

CW [laughs] The other preface is it’s really helpful to look at networking like we look at so many things in our business that maybe aren’t the favorite things, but it’s the business thing that we need to do. And we all have those tasks that we do because we’re in business and it’s — sometimes there’s just stuff that maybe we’re not naturally inclined to it or naturally strong in it, but we’ve all come along and learned things, and networking is something else that can be learned and practiced and incorporated into all of our successful businesses.

That being said, I’m going to talk about what I literally do when I am preparing for and going to a networking meeting. I tend to do — I’m more involved in structured-type networking meetings, so a lot of this will be geared toward a structed meeting, but I believe can be applied toward any type of meeting. So I want to go over the mindset just around networking, what to do before you even go, what to do upon arrival, while you’re there, what to do after the meeting. Then, each category will have some hidden elements, the “whys” behind why I recommend or why I do what I do. Sound good?

MR Sounds awesome. I’m in.

CW All right here we go. So first of all, the mindset around networking. Number one, it’s kind of just a business thing that we need to do sometimes. Something else is when you go to a networking meeting or event, it’s really important to not go expecting to get any actual business that day or sell something that day. The point of effective or professional networking is to develop partnerships with other business or other referral partners for more of a long-term referral partnership as opposed to “I’m going to go with seven gift cards, and I’m going to sell seven gift cares, and if I don’t that, meeting was a failure.” That being said, be ready to schedule. So if you’re talking to someone and they say boy, I should really come in to see you. Well, get out your scheduling software, your phone or however you do it — notepad — and book an appointment. So be ready to do that.

Don’t feel pressured to use, refer to, or buy from anybody at the networking event. That’s not what it’s for. So you can just relieve yourself of that pressure. Basically, go with the intention of introducing yourself and just getting on people’s radar. There’s all kinds of different marketing studies and they say different things. But from what I’ve read, it seems like we need to see something between 9 and 20 times before we’ll actually act on it. So think of in-person networking as one of the times you’re getting on somebody’s radar before they might ask to do business with you. So you’re adding it to all the other stuff you already do to talk about your business. That way, it’s more of a seed planted as opposed to you’re going to go to this meeting and have this home run and land all of this business. Anything you want to add to that, Michael?

MR Yeah, no, I’m a big fan of structured networking like you are. I think that networking is one of the — I’ve always said this over and over for massage therapists, it’s one of the fastest ways to start getting clients if you don’t know where to start with a marketing plan. I’m with you. Structured networking is great, and at the same time, you can’t expect immediate results that same day you go. Its consistency is important, which I’m sure you’re going to get into here in just a minute here. So yeah, I’m with you. I see you, Crystal.

CW All right. Awesome. Let’s keep going here. Up next, the before you go. So before I go to a networking event or a group, I creep on that group online. Most structured events, especially, have a website or a webpage, they have a list of members who are part of the group. Get on there and just poke around. Number one, you might even know somebody in there, so you can already go and have a connection to the group. But also, this will help you tailor your message. You often have a little blurb or your elevator pitch or whatever when you go to ta networking thing. So if you’re looking at a group and maybe there’s a bunch of Realtors in the group, you might tailor you message to how your gift certificates make great closing gifts, for example. If there’s a bunch of health and wellness folks in the group, maybe you want to tailor your message to how your services would complement theirs, so you’re not coming in as competition or a threat or whatever, but how you would want to come alongside and complement what they’re doing with their clients.

And also, I write down the names of the people that I would like to connect with specifically, and we will come back to that later. But I make a note to myself of who I would like to reach out to and specifically connect with in that group.

MR And pausing there for a minute, are you going to talk about using a CRM?

CW I’m not. But you sure can.

MR Oh, I was just curious. Do you just write them down on paper, or do you put them in a spreadsheet or any kind of system?

CW Oh, I see what you’re saying. After the meeting, yes. I’ll talk about what to do after the meeting, but for this part, I —

MR You’re just writing it down.

CW I’m pretty fast and loose on —

MR Okay. Sure. Sure.

CW — for my networking meetings. All right —

AH I just want to jump in here with my theory that it’s so hard to find any kind of guest that’s more of a hardnose about these things than Michael, and so it was never going to happen. You just can’t be more anal-retentive than Michael about your CRM or network.

MR It’s a feature.

AH It’s a feature. It’s a usable feature for Michael Reynolds. All right, bring it back, Crystal.

CW That’s why we need Michael. All right, so we talked about creeping on the group, we talked about writing down some names. If possible, register as a guest. Many formal networking groups have a way that you can register and say hey, I’m going to visit on this day. This is important because this will ensure that you actually go because you’ve signed up. And this gives the group the opportunity to prepare for you. Oftentimes, that group might have a special first-time visitor packet or they have some other gift-y things they might want to have ready for the guest. And side note, here’s a hidden element of this: many groups will actually drop the ball and still not know you’re coming even though you registered. And this is great because when you get there, they feel bad and they’re extra nice to you. So that is a Crystal-ism on my part.

AH [laughs]

MR That is awesome, I’ve never even thought of that.

CW Always register. All right, be sure to have your networking gear ready. Have a huge wad of business cards and make sure you bring with you a notebook and a pen so you have something to write down or however you take notes. And I tell you what, spend the 8 or 10 bucks and get yourself a nametag, an actual nametag. Whether it’s got your logo or just your name on it, you will look like a networking boss. You’re not going to wear the Hello my name is… sticker when you get there. You already have a nametag. It looks professional.

MR I’m glad you mentioned that because I’ve heard more than one person say this. I think it’s more in the BNI context that without a nametag, you’re just kind of a social group. With a nametag, it’s a business meeting. Something about that nametag says hey, we are here to do business and makes it more official. It’s a weird little detail, but I’ve heard more than one person besides you say that.

CW And I agree. I wear my nametag to everything. Anything that is any networking related, I wear my nametag. And just a shout-out to the structured networking, one reason I like is everyone is there — it’s a business meeting. Everybody’s there to do business and they’re expecting to do business and so forth. It does help.

AH All right, I want everyone to know there’s proof that I’m written showing to Michael and Crystal that I put “get a nametag” on my to do list. It’s actually going to happen, so walking the walk here. I’m stumbling the walk here.

CW You’re doing great.

MR Meandering maybe. I’d upgrade you to meandering.

AH Aw, thanks, man. All right, nametag. What’s next.

CW All right. Also do not plan a big day, a client day, after the networking meeting. Don’t put a client right away after. You might get caught up in conversation or whatever and you can’t get out of there on time. You might be just exhausted. I’m just tired a lot of times after some of these networking meetings, especially new ones when I haven’t been there before and you’re kind of really “on” that time. So be nice to yourself. Give yourself a couple hours or the afternoon or whatever you need to just chill after all of that.

All right, moving on. The day of. Okay so remember this is literally what I do, so we’re deep-diving into Crystal’s warped brain here. But I plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Not so I can go in and be the little early bird to network, but so I can sit in my car down the street. I use that time to just collect myself, I slow my breathing down, gather my thoughts, I remind myself these are just people; they’re just people who are probably feeling nervous just like me. Take this time to do any affirmations you need. So if you need to tell yourself “I’m a skilled massage therapist, I’m a professional, I am a friendly outgoing person,” whatever you need to tell yourself. The thing I tell myself when I’m feeling especially nervous or vulnerable before an event is I literally say — I won’t say all the things I say; there are some expletives — but I say I touch naked people for a living, and no one in that room is brave enough to do that; I got this.

MR [laughs] I —

AH That is really brilliant.

MR Allissa jokes that I’m this really focused, anal-retentive networker, which is all true. But I’ve never done the sitting in the car thing, and that’s brilliant. Because when you think about it, going to a networking event is kind of like putting on a little performance. You got to up your game, you got to be professional, you have to be a little more polished and buttoned up than you would normally —

AH It’s going on a first date, but every single time.

MR Yeah, yeah. And performers when they go on stage, they do exactly that. They prep, they get in a mind space, they meditate, they do whatever to get in that space to perform. And this is identical to that in so many ways, and it’s brilliant. So I’ve learned something very cool today. Thank you, Crystal.

CW Good. Good, good, good. I’m glad. I definitely do that, and if I miss it, I notice it. I know I’m just not where I want to be when I get into the group. So do what you got to do, get yourself bolstered up, pound your chest a few times, I got this. And then once you’re there, I mean, that’s when I pull in, I burst out of my car, it’s go time, I’ve got a smile, it’s showtime. Like you said, Michael.

So that brings us to you’re in the building, it’s time to check in, probably, and it’s time for some open networking. If you signed up ahead of time, either they’re expecting you or they dropped the ball and they feel bad. Either way, somebody’s going to be really nice to you when you get into the meeting. Make small talk. And this is the time to have your list of names handy. So this is the list of people that you wrote down that you might want to connect with that day. So you’re making your first small talk with the first person you talk to. This is a great way to get your list out and say I’m hoping to connect with so-and-so today; is she here yet? The hidden element of this is you come across as professional because you are.

MR You have an action item, yeah.

CW You have an action item, and you stay in control of the networking conversation. If this person is just devolving into where the bathrooms are for the eighth time or whatever, you can just say hey, thank you so much; I want to meet with so-and-so. So I like doing that. And then they hand you off to the next person. And you can use this again and again. I like to have three or four people that I’d like to connect with. So as you’re talking, when it’s time to wind down that conversation, I can do it again. Hey, I’m looking to connect with so-and-so. Can you point me to them? And then they’re happy to hand you off, too, because remember, everyone feels awkward and nervous for the most part.

MR This is brilliant because how much of the time do people show up and feel awkward because they don’t know what to do or who to talk to, and they see all these little clusters of people they don’t want to break into and they just feel lost. This is brilliant. Having a very specific action item and agenda that you can fall back on is brilliant.

AH Yeah, and we have a couple — I know I’ve heard a couple of scripts for getting out of long-winded, terrible conversations with people, like the whole well, I don’t want to take up all your time, so I’m going to let you go talk to some other people while I get more coffee. But we don’t have — I don’t know that we’ve ever covered a way to break into a group. Because that’s the heard part. For me, it’s like walking into the middle school cafeteria and not knowing who sit with.

MR Yeah, I’m terrible at that. I’ve never known how to break into a group like that.

AH Well, we’ve got this tip now.

CW Well, now we know. Yeah, because that person, they’re happy to hand you off; they’ve helped you. Anytime you can give somebody and opportunity to help you, they feel good. Its just a win-win all around. And P.S., you don’t need to know these people you’re looking for. In fact, it’s better if you don’t because then you don’t recognize them. I went on the website, I saw that so-and-so is a member. Can you introduce me to them? Something like that. So it’s great.

Remember to either get a drink or bring a drink. Coffee, water, whatever, just have it. Because that’s another great conversation starter or ender. Oh, I need more coffee. Oh, I’m going to fill my water. Oh, whatever. Okay? It’s just a nice little prop to carry around. And it works as a physical barrier if somebody’s got bad breath or whatever, you can literally hold the cup of coffee in front of you and create a barrier. Remember, this is Crystal’s world here, so this is what I —

MR Not that that ever happens.

CW [laughs] All right, so how to introduce yourself. This is the other thing that starts to get a little hairy here. Go through my notes here. Well, first of all, before I get into the how to introduce yourself, sometimes to just be emotionally prepared for at these events is when somebody finds out that you’re a massage therapist, you’re inevitably going to hear the oh, my sister’s a massage therapist. Or oh, I have to come see you on my birthday for a massage; that would be great. Or my wife likes massages. Or the masseuse, the masseur, whatever. Just know ahead of time that no one’s trying to be annoying or offensive; they’re just trying to find some common ground and they’re scratching and clawing for anything that they might have in common with you. So maybe their wife likes massages. They’re just trying to make small talk, okay?

Also, folks who are real clinical or real niched in their practice, don’t feel bad or weird or offended if nobody asks you what you specialize in because most people don’t know that’s a thing that you can specialize in something as a massage therapist. And don’t feel bad if people don’t ask follow-up questions because, guys, these folks literally don’t know what to ask. It’s not because they don’t like you or don’t respect you. They just don’t know. So I just think that’s really important to just, right off the bat, just know that people are by and large — they’re just trying to be nice. They just don’t know.

MR Yeah, and their only experience with massage may be their wife got a massage on her birthday at the spa and it was a pampering thing and that’s the only experience they’ve ever had with massage. They just don’t know.

CW Correct. Correct. They’re just trying to connect with you. So how to introduce yourself. Personally, I don’t lead with I’m Crystal Williams. I’m a massage therapist . I say, I’m Crystal Williams. I work with people who have neck and shoulder pain. Well, that’s interesting, right? So they’ll inevitably ask oh, are you a physical therapist, whatever. They’ll ask what I am. And then it gives me the opportunity to say I’m a massage therapist. I use X, Y, and Z to help people dealing with neck pain, rotator cuff issues, whatever. This is a great way to create a little mini-conversation right away.

So I’m wondering if, Allissa, you want to play along because you have a practice that focuses on claiming calm. So maybe we could do your intro?

AH Yes. We could. And I’m thinking that doing it this way is probably going to circumvent all of those questions you warned us about just a minute ago. Because if I open with I work with people with anxiety and extreme stress.

CW Oh, I should come to you on my birthday. Right, it doesn’t make sense.

AH You could. You could. No, that’s great. Yeah, so I think leading off that way with really leading with your specialty and then bring massage in as secondary. Because if we say massage first, they start thinking luxury spa, birthday, whatever. Which might be your thing, but — whereas if you lead with your specialty, they’ll immediately think of people they know with rotator cuff injury or, for me, people with diagnosed anxiety, and then massage becomes secondary.

CW Yeah.

AH Which is kind of neat. Yeah. So that’s what I would say. I would say I work with people with anxiety and extreme stress.

CW Oh, are you are psychologist?

AH I’m not. I’m a massage therapist. And mostly I work with those people with anxiety who tend to be people with small children and small business owners I found have the highest levels of extreme stress and anxiety. And then everyone chuckles because they’re like oh, yeah. And when you’re at a small business networking event, most of the people there are business owners and half of them there probably have small kids, and everybody’s like oh, that’s double me.

CW Absolutely. That’s awesome.

AH Yeah, and I feel like right away everybody can see how I could serve them or someone they know. Okay, I guess I’m not as terrible at networking as I thought.

CW No, you’re not. You’re not at all. So the takeaway from that is I don’t lead with hey, I’m a massage therapist. Because, like Allissa said, everybody’s brain just goes to whatever they picture as a massage therapist. So whatever you do — hi, I’m so-and-so. I help people get out of pain. I help people move better after injury. I help people recover after an auto accident. Whatever it is you do, led with that, and then let them ask more.

And this where, just to circle back to the niching thing, in my experience, niching has been less about literally confining myself to one area or modality or specialty, but more about targeting my marketing efforts, specifically conversations like this. So if I got really clear that I work with such an such type of person, it just let’s me be clear in these kinds of conversations and helps me be memorable when I meet somebody. So if I say oh, I’m a massage therapist, maybe I’m not as memorable as if I say oh, I help people with shoulder pain. So that’s going to come in in their mind when somebody has shoulder pain. They’re going to say I met that massage therapist. She specializes in shoulder pain. So I utilize niching more so for the marketing purposes and being able to focus my efforts and to be memorable than I do to actually limit what I work on with clients.

MR So you’ll take on clients outside your niche —

CW Oh, yeah.

MR — you just don’t target them.

AH And I’m just going to — I want to offer an example of that. So I meet you and you say I work with people with shoulder pain and etcetera, and I’m a massage therapist doing this, dut-dut-dut-dut-dut. And I say sweet, do you ever work on people with knee pain because I hurt my knee running.

CW Happens all the time.

AH And how do you respond?

CW All the time. I say yeah, absolutely, I can help you with that. And then I get out my phone and say, what’s your schedule like? Let’s book an appointment.

AH Nice.

CW I literally do that.

AH And I love that we just demonstrated this because that’s the biggest fear people have around niching. But it’s not the niching episode, it’s the networking episode. So carry on.

CW It’s not. Carry on. All right. We talked about being emotionally prepared to be called, whatever, birthday present or whatever. Moving on.

Ah, okay. This is one of my biggest tricks, and I am so happy to share this with everybody today. So you’re talking a little bit — this is when you can take the control of the conversation by directing it back to the person you’re talking to. So the way I would do this is hi, so-and-so. What type of business are you in? And then they tell me I’m a whatever, graphic designer. Right away, I say oh, what do you like about your work? And they’ll have all kinds of things that they like about their work. And then my next question is what challenge are you facing right now? And this hidden element of this is it immediately cuts all of the superficial small talk. So we’re not talking about the weather anymore. They have a challenge. These are other business owners; they have a challenge. And they’re going to say something like well, I’m having trouble hiring somebody, or I’m looking to expand to a bigger office, or whatever they say is their challenge. And it immediately gives you a deeper connection with that person, and it also give you an opportunity that you might even be able to help them. They might say I’m looking for a bigger office, and you might actually know someone who’s renting out space, and you might actually be able to help them. It’s also a real connection, and it shows that you care about that person, and it’s a good opportunity to learn about that person too.

AH And this goes all the way back to things Michael said to me year and years ago when we first met. And I said something like I don’t know that I know what I’m talking about. And Michael was like yeah, but you understand relationships. It’s all about relationships. That’s all marketing is. You’re building relationships. And you know more than a bunch of other people. And it is. It’s all about relationships. And I think that’s a really neat way to make someone your friend pretty quick and cut through the crap pretty quick.

CW Absolutely because that’s one of the most exhausting things about networking is just the constant small talk. I think that’s what gets us all wore out. I know it gets me wore out. So the takeaway is what line of work are you in, what do you like about it, what’s your challenge? And that will organically create a really great conversation. It always does.

MR That’s brilliant.

CW During the meeting — so you’ve done all your open networking time, it’s time for the meeting. This is where you use your tailored commercial that you established because you creeped on the group ahead of time, if you had the ability to do that. So like we talked about in the beginning if it’s a bunch of Realtors, I’m going to talk about a way that I could help Realtors, etcetera. If this is a formal group, the group is listening for your asks or your specific requests that week. And they’re going to be listening until you say that, so be sure that you have one. And the more specific you can be in your request, the better they will be able to identify someone in their life that has that. So as an example, I got the most referrals I’ve ever gotten from this specific ask. My name’s Crystal Williams. I own this massage practice where I help people manage and recover from shoulder pain. This week, I’m looking for people who have pain on the front of their shoulder when they reach for their back pocket. And I did the motion. So that internal rotation reaching for the back-pocket motion. Well, immediately everybody lit up. They either had it themselves or they knew somebody that did. I use that as an example because it’s very, very specific, but I got the most referrals.

MR Yeah, I have that, too. I just now did it. [laughs] That’s me.

CW [laughs] So good example of it. So now it’s not just someone somewhere needs a massage. It’s wow, I need a massage, or my husband does, or my wife, or whatever.

AH Mine would sound like — because, again, want everybody to know that I am meandering along this walk. I just realized mine would be I am specifically looking for people who are having trouble sleeping because of their stress and anxiety levels.

CW Yeah, absolutely.

AH And we — I — we all know a bunch of people who do that.

CW And you could take it even further, Allissa, You can say I’m looking for people who the moment they lay down to go to sleep, their brain starts racing about all the things they didn’t finish that day and all the stuff they have to do tomorrow.

MR So I need to hop on a plan and come see both of you. So there’s that.

AH Yeah.

CW That’s great. See? We have referrals already. Referrals are being passed right now. Referrals, let’s talk about that. So sometimes the idea of how do I give a referral, who do I — I’m not going to be able to give referrals. A referral is not a sale. A referral is the opportunity for somebody to do business. What that means is if Allissa says I’m looking for people who are struggling to fall asleep, I don’t have to say oh, well, my aunt has trouble falling asleep. Well, but she might not like massage. It’s not your job to sell the service. It’s your job to say I know someone who has trouble falling asleep, that’s an opportunity for Allissa to do business with that person. By “do business,” that means it’s the right kind of client for Allissa. That’s what a referral is. It’s Allissa’s job to talk about her service an to sell the service, whatever. It’s your job to just provide her with the type of referral that she’s looking for. I’ll touch on this because we’re all massage therapists, and none of us are going to cold-call somebody’s aunt to see if they having trouble sleeping and if they want a massage, right?

MR That sounds creepy.

CW What you would do if I give Allissa — what I would tell Allissa is hey, I know this person who has trouble sleeping; is that the right referral for you? And Allissa would say —

AH Yeah, bring it. Send me your aunt. Bring it.

CW Then I say all right, I’m going to touch base with her. What’s the best way for me to introduce you two? And that’s where it’s important to have the way you like to be introduced in mind. Examples of this could be maybe you like an email introduction where I send an email to both Allissa and my aunt saying hey, Aunt So-and-So, I know this gal who helps people who have trouble falling asleep. I wanted to connect you two. Some people like a telephone call, whatever. But I’m not just going to send Allissa in blind to call my relative asking if they need a massage. So that’s where you warm up the referral. But at the end of the day, the referral is just the opportunity to do business. You don’t need to sell the service to anybody.

So if the graphic designer comes up and says I am looking for people who want a new logo for their business, you don’t need to make sure that they’re going to buy the logo, you just say hey, I know this person, they’re looking for a logo. That’s a referral. Good enough?

AH Yeah. And for me, I think if — I think sometimes we go to networking groups and maybe some of the people there who are very helpful, but they’re not particularly savvy, and they don’t necessarily know how to do an email intro or anything like that. So for me, I think I would probably say if someone said my aunt has trouble sleeping and stuff. I’d say really? So can I send you my video blog post about some breathing techniques for sleep? And if you pass that along to her, she’ll be able to check me out on my website any maybe schedule if she’s interested. And then make note of that and then maybe follow up with that person. Hey, here’s the video for your aunt. Thank you so much. Hope this helps. Please have her email me with any questions.

CW I love it. I love it. That’s great. And it also it builds trust in their mind because you said you’re going to do this thing and then you did the thing; you sent the video, you followed up. I love it. I think it’s great. And that’s great. And you could even enter it into your CRM, which will be another blog post that Michael can deep-dive into.

MR Love me some CRM.

CW CRM. [laughs]

MR For those who are listening who probably are a little confused, CRM stands for customer relationship manager. And it is a piece of software, typically, that allows you to track contacts and the activity with communication around those contacts. So for those who don’t know what CRM is, I wanted to give a quick little definition.

AH We’ll put a link to Michael’s favorite CRM in the show notes.

CW I love it. All right, so you made it through the meeting, you introduced yourself, you talked, you gave your elevator pitch or your commercial, and now it’s after the meeting. Well, I can tell you this, as a massage therapist, you’ll be hit up by everyone. The wellness people, the shake people, the whatever. You’re going to be hit up by everybody, and that’s a whole other episode of how to deal with pushy networkers and people you don’t really want to meet with outside of the meeting. But one thing, just to say while you’re at the meeting is — you’re talking to somebody, they want you to buy their whatever. You’re not interested; you’re not going to refer people to them. I say oh, thank you so much. I’ll keep my ears open. If I meet someone I think would benefit, I’ll send them your way. And I leave it at that.

AH That’s very diplomatic.

CW Yes, I don’t go down the road of I’m too busy to meet with you; I don’t believe in the snake oil you’re selling. I don’t do any of that. I just say hey, if I meet someone that I think would benefit, I’ll send them your way. What they don’t know is maybe I don’t think anyone will benefit and I won’t send anyone their way. But either way, I didn’t lie.

AH Fair enough.

CW After the meeting, send the personalized follow-up emails like Allissa was saying. So if you made a specific connection with somebody, after the meeting is the time to send your follow-ups. This is the reason I don’t like to book a client right afterward. I want some time to just wrap up the loose ends of the meeting. So if you were going to connect with someone or do a meeting, whatever, and just do it right away. I do it right away. That’s up to you how you like to manage your time, but I like to do it right away so it’s just off my brain and out of my mind.

You probably will want to meet up with people. You will make good connections, especially after you’ve asked all those great questions like what do you like about your business, what’s the challenge. Whenever possible, I recommend having outside of the meeting meetings. These are called one-to-one meetings where you just get together with someone you met in that networking event. I like to have them in my space at my office whenever possible. And the hidden element is they’ll have an accurate picture of you and your space. And I think this is particularly helpful for some of the clinical massage practitioners who — when somebody walks in and they see anatomy posters and skeletons and whatever, it helps frame your practice in their minds. For those who maybe aren’t a real clinical focus, maybe it’s — whatever your focus is, they get to experience that and that just helps bolster the picture in their mind so when they’re out and about and want to refer someone to you, they’ll say oh, I know this person; they would love being in this space. Almost always, when somebody comes to my office for a meeting, they end up booking an appointment. So be ready for that. Because they’re going to like your space. You’ve worked hard to decorate it; it’s nice; it’s calming; it’s whatever it is. They’re going to like it. Be looking for the cues because when you meet with somebody for a referral partnership meeting after a networking event, they’re going to want to book a massage with you. So be ready to do that.

You know, I’m going to stop there. I feel like that is a lot of things that we covered. Anything else to add?

AH It is a lot and it’s all really — it’s all so structured and helpful, so thank you. Sorry, Michael, go ahead.

MR No, no. I think we’re both just very excited because of all the amazing goldmine of information that we just got. I just want to say to our listeners, if anyone out there is experiencing a slow time in their practice or kind of a slump in clients or something, go back and relisten to this episode and write down the bullet points of exactly what Crystal is telling you to do, and go do it. I can almost guarantee you will see an increase in your practice very quickly. This is all stuff that I think Allissa and I both fully endorse, and it works.

AH We do and, again, we talked a couple episodes ago about my new marketing campaign that I’ve got in progress here to get some new anxiety-related clients in my door. And I actually, you guys are both are going to gasp, I have actually done the research on the two local chambers of commerce in my area, and I’m going to visit as least one of them.

MR [gasp] I’m gasping.

CW Yay.

AH Yeah.

MR And cheering.

AH Yeah, and I’m actually choosing to do it because each of them — and it’s tough because I’m like this weird kind of county line, so I’ve got none that are exactly in my town, but one on either side of me that serves two different areas. Anyhow, both of the groups have an earlier morning every-other-week extreme networking meeting that seems to be BNI-esque in that it’s very structured, it’s very quick, but isn’t BNI. Because BNI is just too much for me; I can’t commit to the once a week and the early mornings — the meeting times happening around me just wreck my schedule. So yeah. I’m excited to visit both of these chambers and one of them specifically has a lot of women-owned business owners — a lot of women-owned businesses and they seem to really be trying to grow that aspect of their chamber. I have a funny story about one of them that I’ll share in another podcast episode. I’m saving it up. I’m working on my narrative. It’s very funny.

Yeah, so I’m going to be doing a lot of this, which is why I was super psyched to have Crystal on, and also, you’re going to be hearing about how — more about how I succeed and/or fail at various aspects of this. So if you’re feeling nervous, know that lots of people are, and we can probably all get through this together. So thank you, Crystal.

MR Thank you, Crystal, indeed.

CW My pleasure. Thank you for having me on.

MR Anything else you want to add?

CW Boy. There’s all kinds of stuff I could add —

MR Don’t feel pressure. That’s plenty.

CW This is a good start.

AH We’ll make a series out of this eventually.

MR Yeah.

AH But that’s about it. Crystal, thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom with us. And we’re going to follow up. And hopefully people will give us more networking questions that we can answer and have you help us answer that would be really valuable. So thank you, everyone, for tuning into this interview episode with Crystal Williams about networking. If you have any suggestions, ideas, questions, harassments, praise, you can send them to us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. And if you like the podcast, then show a friend how to listen to it. Share your closest massage friend or someone who doesn’t know how to listen to podcasts, show them how, so they can listen to it as well. And if you really like us, leave us a review on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, wherever you listen to podcasts. Michael, did I leave anything out?

MR Nope. I think you nailed it.

AH All right, take us home, then.

MR Oh, I think that’s it. You nailed it.

AH Okay then, thanks for listening, everybody.

MR Thanks, everyone.

AH Have a fantastic day.