Episode 234

Jul 19, 2019

Should she quit the chamber of commerce? Should she give it another year? Allissa and Michael talk through a decision related to networking.

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Should she quit the chamber of commerce? Should she give it another year? Allissa and Michael talk through a decision related to networking.

Sponsored by: The Jojoba Company & Massage Business Blueprint.


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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 am Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines And I’m Allissa Haines.

MR And we are your hosts. Glad you’ve joined us today. Welcome, welcome. Allissa, my grass is dying.

AH Aw. That’s okay, though, because grass is a huge waste of resources anyway, and it serves no purpose except to be aesthetically pleasing.

MR Well, it’s fun to play in. I mean —

AH It can be.

MR — we had such a dry season that half our yard is brown, so it’s kind of making me a little sad today.

AH Aw.

MR But I’ve got the sprinklers out. There is hope. I see a little bit of green popping up, so.

AH So we’ve actually had so much rain in the spring and the beginning of summer that everything here is ridiculously lush. And we actually stopped mowing our front lawn and most of the back lawn for a couple of months because it’s actually better for the bees.

MR Oh.

AH We have lots of clover, and the bees really like clover, and Walt was also just tired of mowing the lawn, and it’s been so hot. And so he was like, you know — and he’s like a scientist, right? So he’s like, I was looking at the clover and then I saw that there was like five different kinds of moss under there, and I don’t want to destroy a whole ecosystem just to make the lawn aesthetically pleasing. And I was like, I don’t think we should mow the lawn anyway. My — I think we should just sprinkle hummingbird and butterfly flower mix all over the lawn and just let it go all summer and then clear-cut it at the end of the year. So I talked him into not mowing the lawn anymore.

MR You know, I love mowing the lawn. It’s like — I put on a podcast, and for an hour and a half, I’m just soaking in some podcast and having alone time. I actually like mowing the lawn. I’m kind of a weirdo.

AH Hold up. You’ve been mowing your own lawn?

MR Yeah.

AH Nice.

MR Does that surprise you?

AH It surprises me dramatically because I really thought you were just going to hire a landscaper.

MR Well, I thought about it, but I really like mowing the lawn. Like I said, I got this awesome new mower. It’s an electric mower. It runs for 80 minutes on one battery. So right off the bat, I got a new toy, which is great. I got a matching electric trimmer, which lasts 60 minutes, to go with it. So I’ve got brand new toys. And like I said, it’s an hour and a half where I can just get out there by myself, listen to some knowledge. It’s nice mindless stuff to kind of take a break from all the —

AH Yeah.

MR — mindful, high-level thinking work I do during the day. It’s a nice break. I really like it.

AH That’s great. Walt just got the electric battery-powered leaf blower thing because leaf blowers are the worst thing you can do for the environment —

MR That’s what I heard.

AH — absolutely terrible. But he had a hand-me-down one. He’d been using this old one that took, whatever, gas or something. And he just got a new one last weekend and he is so happy.

MR [Laughing]

AH So yeah, rock on. I would rather be inside meal prepping. And how rare it is that I fall into a traditional gender roll, but I’m inside meal prepping, and you can mow the lawn or whatever. Rock on.

MR [Laughing]

AH Anyhow, glad we got our summertime lawn activities cleared up.

MR There you go. You’re welcome, everybody.

AH I was going to say what are we talking about today, Michael?

MR Well, you told me you were going to surprise me with a topic, and low and behold, you did. We’re going to do real talk business coaching with Michael.

AH Yeah.

MR So bring it on.

AH Yeah, so I’ve got some stuff going on in my business that I need to talk through, and I’ve kind of complained through it with some people, but I thought it would be good for y’all to hear kind of a live consulting session-ish. It’s super abbreviated because we’re only going to be like 20-some minutes. But I’ve got a business thing going on. Let me lay it out.

MR It’s about networking. That makes me happy.

AH Yeah, it’s about — so y’all know already that I, last November/December, joined my local chamber of commerce. It was part of my plan. I wanted to increase my client numbers a little bit, and I know that networking and meeting people and such is my weakness, so I thought I would push myself out of my comfort zone, and I joined my local chamber of commerce. I chose them because I was psyched because they had some regular, monthly daytime events, and then also because they had a morning — it was kind of like a BNI, Business Networking International, lite kind of thing where the group meets — it’s a networking group, they allow one person from each profession, they meet twice a month early in a morning. It wasn’t crazy early, though, it’s like 7:45. And it just seemed like they had stuff I could get to and that every-other-week networking group seemed like a nice mellow intro to that kind of structured networking.

MR And how often are the meetings? I think you said that, but I missed it.

AH Twice a month.

MR Twice a month. Got it.

AH Yeah. And that works. I like that schedule. So anyhow. So I joined, and I joined. And I checked it out; I asked a few people who I knew had been members at different times and whatever. And my chamber’s a big chamber. They used to be kind of town-by-town-ish. But as chamber’s kind of went downhill over the years, it looks like they’ve kind of combined. And now it’s a really big chamber where the furthest reaches of it — it’s many towns, and the furthest reaches of it are probably as much as a 30-minute drive away. So whatever. Not a big deal.

So I joined online. The president actually called me to welcome me. I had a conversation with them. I told them I was excited about the daytime events. They do this brown bag lunch networking. I told them I was excited about the every-other-Wednesday morning networking group, and he told me a little bit about that. And it was nice. It was a good welcome. He’s like, you know, if you get us certain business information, we’ll put you in an email. They do a really great email every Tuesday morning to all their members. He’s like, we’ll introduce you in that email. I was like, great, I’m working on my website; I’m going to get you all that information in about a month if that’s okay. I’d like to hold off on my intro until my website’s ready. He’s like, wonderful, awesome, great, here’s some other stuff we do. Fabulous.

So that’s cool. I started going to that every-other-Wednesday morning networking group right away. They were really nice. It’s like an hour and fifteen minutes, and they’ve got a good structure. They have a little welcome, and then they do a quick review of any events coming up in the chamber, and then someone will present a problem they’re having in their business and the group will kind of talk through it. And then there’s a very traditional ten-minute business spotlight where someone in the group talks specifically about their business, and it rotates through the group. And then there’s a few minutes to thank each other, talk about any referrals or testimonials from using each other’s services or anything like that, and that’s it. It’s fine, it’s nice, there’s coffee, there’s a muffin, it’s great.

MR And you said there’s exclusivity, right? So there’s no other massage therapists that can join this group?

AH Correct, yes.

MR Okay.

AH There’s one person from each profession. And they’re a little — well, they’re sort of strict about it, but there’s two financial advisors because there’s one that’s a really big, high-level, fancy-shmancy financial advisor, and then there’s one that’s a smaller whatever. But they discussed that with the one dude before they let the other dude in. And I told them right out if there was another massage therapist who wanted to join and had a different specialty than mine, I would be all over that. That’d be great. So they’re cool and they’re flexible.

So I joined the chamber and then — so that was in November/December, and then I saw when the January — when an email came out the beginning of January, all of a sudden the brown bag lunch that happened during the day right around the corner from my office, that I was really excited to go to, stopped. It was an event that they were cutting, and it wasn’t going to happen because they just didn’t have enough interest previously. So I was kind of bummed because there were two events that I was going to be able to regularly go to: the brown bag lunch and this networking morning meeting. And the brown bag lunch was gone. So I was annoyed by that, and I was a little annoyed because I feel like the president of the chapter probably knew that when I talked to him a month prior, and I was like ugh, that’s annoying. Okay, whatever.

And then I got them all the info for doing my intro in the email to members: my logo, a write-up of my business, a link directly to my website. It was good. I worked on it for a long time. I had my website all spiffed up, and it was great. I felt really good about working hard on it. I sent in the information. He was like, great, this is exactly what we need, thank you so much. And I’m feeling proud of myself because I got the info together and I wasn’t — you know, whatever. So a week or two later, that Tuesday morning email comes out to members, and they’ve got my logo and they’ve got my write-up, and they used a link not to my website, but to my scheduling page — to my scheduling software, which is a link I never gave them. And I went back and triple-checked the info that I sent this guy. I’m like, did I send him the wrong link? So somebody at the chamber was putting together this email, started skulking around my site a little bit to look at it, found my schedule now link, and put that — changed my stuff and put that in the email. So this email goes out to however many — a bunch of — several hundred members. I so worked on my website, my homepage and everything so that it was a good landing page for new people learning about my business, and they screwed it up.

And I emailed him and I was like, somebody went rogue and used a link that I didn’t even give you, and now — and this intro got flubbed, so I was essentially proposing on the first date. We wanted to tell people about my business and then sent them to the scheduling and paying page instead of my website that I have carefully crafted. He was like, oh, okay, we’ll correct that everywhere. And it’s like —

MR At that point it’s too late.

AH It’s too late. Even if I insisted on another intro, I’d look like a jerk and a weirdo and why do they have to introduce her twice? What’s wrong with her? So I was aggravated because I didn’t really get the apology and the acknowledgment of how they screwed up from them. But whatever. Okay. I’m like, okay, let’s be chill. This is going to be fine. So I’m going to my Wednesday morning networking group. So I go to my Wednesday morning networking group regularly, and I get on the schedule to do the ten-minute business spotlight, and I get all set up and I labor over it and I stress over it. And there was one or two times where the guy who was running the group, he didn’t always remember — well, he sent out an email usually two days before each meeting every other week being like, oh, here’s the agenda, blah blah blah. But once or twice I didn’t get the agenda, and I’d email him and be like, hey, was I supposed to get the agenda? And he’d say, oh, I’m sorry. I don’t have you added to the distribution list yet. Ugh, okay, that’s fine, thank you.

So I go to show — I show up there that I’m doing my ten-minute spotlight. I show up a couple minutes early so I can talk to the head guy who runs it because he’s really cool, and he’s very friendly and nice, and I knew he would make me feel relaxed because I was stressed about it. So I show up to that Wednesday morning group, right, and there’s flowers out on the table, and there’s a picture of the dude who runs the group sitting on the table. And I’m like — I’m the first one there, and the woman who — we hold the meeting at a B&B — the woman who sets up the coffee and stuff comes around the corner and I’m like, hey, why is there a picture of him here? And she’s like, well, I thought it would be nice. And at first, I’m like, maybe it’s his birthday or something? No. The dude died. The dude running the group died, like five days prior. And because I hadn’t been put on the distribution list, I wasn’t part of this big email chain that said, hey, he died.

MR Oh, boy.

AH (Indiscernible) we’re not going to have the regular meeting, but should we meet anyway? And this guy had been in the group for like eight years or something. So I show up all raring to do my presentation, and the meeting’s a memorial service, and I’m like, ugh.

MR Wow.

AH And I felt embarrassed because I had all my stuff as people started walking in. And I just didn’t know what was going on. Anyhow. Fine. So I put my stuff aside. And the dude who was like — had handled the emails to people saying what should we do, he — I was like, I was not on that email list, and I did not know. He was like — everyone was very nice about it and whatever, and it was a lovely little memorial service meeting. But I was just like what the heck? This is terrible.

But anyhow, at the end of that meeting as they said some nice things about this guy who passed away, and they were like, okay, we need a couple people to step up and kind of take over the basic admin of running this group. If anyone’s interested, let’s talk about that. And somebody who’s been in the group for a while was like, yes, I can do it; I’d like to have a backup. And I’m like I can be a backup. And also I’d like to help maybe get some admin stuff together so that people don’t get left off of email lists. And also there’s people on this email list who I haven’t seen in the six months I’ve been attending this meeting. I’m guessing that a few admin tasks need to be handled, and I would be happy to help with that and kind of be your second in command. I said, I know I’m new here, but I’d be happy to do that. And people were like, great, that sounds awesome. So I did. I kind of stepped up, and I — whatever, and I — not rocket science — created a Google form for people to put all their business info in, it would aggregate to a spreadsheet, we’d have an updated contact list that would always be current, easy to add new members, it becomes part of an onboarding process, which was lacking. And great, everybody’s fine. So that’s been going along.

Now, meanwhile, I’m going to this biweekly networking meeting and it’s — and now I’m helping to admin it. And it’s so lax. They’re really loose about attendance, which is fine, but there’s some people I’ve maybe seen twice. There are very few people in this group. And it’s probably a total of like 15, and I’m going to say between 7 and 9 come to each meeting regularly. There are very few people that I would actually have occasion to refer to. Maybe because I just don’t hang out with their ideal client, but also because I’ve had a couple interactions that aren’t great.

So when this other guy passed away, it left a space for a new real estate agent, and this woman joined. And I sent her — in the first six weeks she was in — three emails saying can you fill out the Google form to — so we can get your contact information on the list, and also would you like to set up a date to do your ten-minute spotlight? And she just never got back to me. And then I saw her at a meeting and said, you know, I’ve sent you a couple emails with that info, do you want — can you — maybe it went to your junk mail box. And she literally looked at me and said, oh, I saw it, I just don’t have time to get to it. I would never refer anyone to her.

MR [Laughing] What a team player.

AH Right? You’re joining this group because you want referrals, and you can’t be bothered to give people your contact information? Why are we here? And the same thing with the real estate attorney, who is a lovely young woman who — I was really excited because she’s a young woman. And since the other head guy died, I haven’t seen her. Like I don’t know — and she was supposed to do our business spotlight and then just never got back to me when I was trying to set that up with her. And there’s this marketing guy that’s really shady. He does super shady marketing stuff. He’s like, if you know any small businesses — I just — I did a one-on-one with him, and I would never — to learn about what he does. I would never refer anyone to him.

So there are like two people in the group that I actually really enjoy. And one’s a real estate agent — or pardon me, one’s an insurance agent who totally helped me when I had my new car debacle. And he’s wonderful. And again, he’s someone who’s under 35 and super cool and knows how to use text messaging to communicate. And there’s another woman who’s a mortgage broker, and she’s really cool and probably around my age, and she’s got a lot — she’s been asking some really great questions in the business solutions part, and — including, one of them was like, what do you do when men walk into your office and think that you’re the receptionist? And I really like her, but there’s only two people in this group of 15 that I would really refer to. The rest of them are kind of old, kind of curmudgeon-y, mostly men, they make fun of millennials left and right. It’s the thing they do at meetings. I’m just kind of like meh. And also this group has become kind of more peer mentor-y than network-y. And I’m kind of all set with mentors. I have peer mentors. I have you, Michael, and I also have this community of massage therapists in the premium members who are wonderful peer mentors. So I’m kind of turned off of this biweekly networking meeting, but I also feel like a dork because I stepped up to do some admin and I’m going to be like, see ya! So that’s that part.

And I have one more section and we go to Michael’s advice, I promise, and you don’t have to hear me whine. So I’m like, okay, do I want to renew my chamber membership when it comes up in November? What are the other benefits I can get from the chamber that would make it worth it? So I looked into their health insurance group plans, and they’re not any better pricewise than what I get through buying my health insurance on the state exchange. I’ve looked at their other benefits. There’s really nothing else that I would use or need.

I’m having a little bit of trouble because of the values. And I knew this going in from some friends’ experiences with chambers. They’re representative of business owners, and oftentimes bigger business owners than our kind of microbusinesses. So like when workers’ rights legislation comes up, the chamber of commerce tends to lobby against it. They lobbied for the delay of the Family Medical Leave stuff happening in Massachusetts because it’s going to be hard for business owners. But I’m pro these workers’ rights legislation. And also a Hobby Lobby just moved into town, and they joined the chamber. And I don’t want to be part of a club that includes Hobby Lobby. They’re a horrible discriminative employer, and they discriminate in their health insurance packages to women, and I’m uncomfortable with that. I don’t want to be part of that club. So values-wise, I’m struggling a little bit being part of an organization where some of the businesses are, I feel, are immoral and unethical in some of their practices. So there’s that, right?

And then — oh, there’s one more. So then there was — and as illustrative of how maybe I don’t fit in with this group, they have an annual golf tournament, and it used to bring in 200 golfers, and the proceeds go to benefit some kind of scholarship fund for something, and it’s a good cause. Whatever. But they’re have a lot of hard — a lot of difficulty getting enough golfers. So they sent a lot of emails this year over the three weeks prior to the golf tournament to get golfers in. And one of the emails came through, and the subject heading said, “Swingers Wanted.”

MR Oh, boy. [Laughing]

AH Now, I’m not really a prude. I’m a prude in my massage practice. I’m a little bit of a prude, you know, because our business has histories of being involved with sex work. So I’m a little hyper-prude-y about massage. I’m not a prude in my regular life. In fact, I probably veer too far in the other direction sometimes, and I’m working on that. But I think that’s super inappropriate for a business organization to send that email — and it’s not like there was other context or a golfer emoji in the subject heading. And even the first — like, the opening paragraph kind of made a tongue-in-cheek joke. It was not — it was intent — it was obvious intentional, and not acceptable to me.

And then there’s also — as far as other factors that I was thinking about, there’s — they do have a small women’s network in this group, but it’s obvious fledgling, and the woman running it is actually a friend of a friend of mine. And she sent me this really nice handwritten welcome note a month or two into my membership that’s like, oh, hey, our friend told me that you joined the chamber. I hope we get to connect, blah, blah, blah. And I emailed her right away — she’s like, you can email me. And I emailed her right away with that — when I got the thank you note and said, I got your note. I’d really love to connect. I’ll reach out to you in a few weeks — I think I was about to travel or something –. I was like, I’ll reach out to you in a few weeks, and maybe we can get together. And I never got a response. And when I reached out in a few weeks and emailed her, I was like, I’d love to connect. Is there a good day for you to meet me for coffee somewhere in our town, blah, blah, blah? Never heard back.

So with all of that information, Michael, we’ll take a halftime break, but my question is do I end my chamber membership in November, or is that jerky of me to think that — and meanwhile I haven’t gotten any referrals from this referral group. I’ve gotten — one person from the group came. She came, she loved it, she booked again, she cancelled the day before, she rebooked, she cancelled three hours before, I sent her an email with a link to an invoice to pay my missed appointment fee. Three days later, she responded and said, I’m sorry I had to cancel. Something came up with my mom; I’ll pay your fee as soon as I can. And it’s been a month, and she hasn’t paid the fee. So I’m not getting any clients from this group either.

So do I re-up or do I get out?

MR [Laughing] I would be thrilled to talk through it, but I think you wanted to do a halftime spot first?

AH I do. I do.

MR All right. Let’s do it.

AH And today, our halftime sponsor is us.

MR Oh, it’s us.

AH It’s us!

MR How about that.

AH Yeah. What I want y’all to know is that Michael and I do this kind of business consulting. We do it hourly with no commitment other than our hourly fee. Michael, what’s our hourly fee? I think we decided it’s 125 (indiscernible).

MR It’s currently 125, that’s correct.

AH 125 an hour unless you need lots and lots of hours of it, but we have other solutions for that. And you can talk to just Michael, just me, you can talk to both of us. So that’s a thing that we do. Michael, I’m not feeling prolific because I just complained for half an hour, so why don’t you tell people a little bit more —

MR Want me to take it from here? Sure.

AH Take it from here.

MR Sure. So we don’t really advertise it too much except I guess today we’re advertising it too much. We have been doing it selectively for a few premium members, some people in our community, and we’re really open to kind of opening it up a little bit more, so we’re just kind of throwing it out there as an option for those who feel stuck. So we have a lot of premium members that post in the premium group and get a lot of great answers. We have a lot of people that come to office hours and they kind of consider that group coaching somethings, which is great. But occasionally we’ve had people reach out to us and say, hey, I would just love to work one-on-one with somebody — or in this case one-on-two sometimes if Allissa and I are both there — and just kind of talk through some really specific personal challenges that are personal to me. And it really helps people get unstuck sometimes. And so we really enjoy doing that. We have limited capacity, so we can’t do it all the time, but we’re — I’m going to go ahead and just do this because we rarely brag on ourselves. We’re really good at being non-salesy and very neutral and stuff. But in this case, I think we’re going to go ahead and just brag on ourselves a little bit.

AH Do it.

MR I think we make a good team. And people have said this about us because, Allissa, you have a lot of deep experience for over a decade in running an independent massage practice. Like, you’ve seen it all. You’ve been through all the ups and downs. You’ve been through a lot of the challenges; you’ve overcome a lot of the challenges. You are a seasoned massage practice business owner with a lot of knowledge in the things that go with that including marketing, technology, operations, finance, all of that stuff. So you are a seasoned expert in running a massage practice, in my opinion.

I think we bring different things to the table, which is good. I have a lot of experience in running a bigger company that comes with kind of deeper knowledge in technology and some of the business side of things. Deep finance; I’m a financial planner in another life, so to speak. I have another practice that runs around financial planning, and so I have deep experience in financial planning on both the business and the personal side, as well as operational culture. Some of the stuff that comes with being in a bigger business community, bringing that to the small business word.

So I think together we make a really, really good team. I think either of us independently is pretty darn good, but I really love when we do consulting together, because you get two different perspectives with different backgrounds that I think complement each other really well. And people have given us feedback that that’s really helpful to them. So that’s kind of my pitch.

AH Yep, and I want to give a couple examples — this is turning into a long halftime, but whatever.

MR [Laughing]

AH I want to give a couple examples of how people might use this. So let’s say you are all, okay, I’ve been in my practice a couple of years, I like the clients I have, I don’t seem to be getting much more of them. I’ve done this particular thing with some kind of referral bonus for current clients, I’ve done this particular thing, but I know it’s time to refine a little bit. I’m not getting enough new clients. What do I do next?

That’s a great call for both Michael and I. We would kind of tag team some ideas with you, help you brainstorm, and you would walk away with your next one to two, maybe even three, to dos and feel really good about knowing what your next step is. That’s a call that would be great for both Michael and I.

Let’s say you are struggling a little bit with how to talk to clients about the work that you do — or your intake or outake or worried about client satisfaction, something related — now, we don’t cover a lot of hands-on stuff in the Blueprint materials, but I’m a hands-on practitioner with 14 years’ experience. So if you were like, you know, I’m worried that my clients are satisfied with the massage I’m giving them. I need to talk a little bit about the struggles I’m having in the treatment room, that’d be one where you want to just talk to me for an hour. Or if you are like, listen, I need to set up a Facebook ad campaign, but I’m terrified of doing it wrong, I’ve tried a few but they didn’t work, I need someone to hold my hand, that’d be a great call for just Michael because I have zero interest in that. And you would actually — you’d share your computer screen with him in an online meeting, and he would walk you step by step. What are some ideas — how do I set this campaign up? Or a Google ad campaign. Or a tech problem you have integrating a form into whatever. That’d be a good call for just Michael.

So I wanted to give some examples on how we do our stuff together and separate. If you really wanted me to sit in on your Facebook ad thing, I would. But you don’t need me.

MR You’d be snacking the whole time.

AH I would be snacking the whole time, and I would have very little to contribute.

MR [Laughing]

AH And we want you to get the maximum use of the brains needed for the problem you have. So that’s that. That’s what we do. It’s 125 an hour. If you’re interested in that, you can reach out to us podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. This is a thing that we do, and we’d love to work with you if you’re interested. And also, if you feel like you’re coaching and consulting needs go beyond an hour here or there to help you brainstorm, Michael — through his financial advising and business advising company — does a higher level of consulting. So you should talk to Michael if your needs are such.

Michael, how is your consulting different from what you and I do together?

MR Yeah, just briefly, it’s more long-term and more in-depth, I would say. So I think you said it well. Our coaching together for Massage Business Blueprint is more on-demand, like an hour here and there to kind of get you unstuck. We really like that. My clients in my financial planning practice are more if you want to put a financial plan together, build a roadmap for your business, work with someone long-term to have accountability and check-ins and goals and milestones and move things across the board and really make long-term progress with a relationship, that’s a little more what I do in that practice. So that’s kind of the difference.

AH And how would people reach you if they know for sure that’s what they need and want to just go right to you?

MR That is at elevationfinancial.com.

AH Okay, or just holler out; we’ll find you.

MR Holler out. We’re easy to find.

AH Okay, so that was a lot. It was a long halftime ad. Let’s get back to me whining about my chamber of commerce. Michael, what do I do?

MR So in listening to the background, in my mind I pictured one of those notepads with a “T” on it where it’s the pro and the con columns, and there’s checkboxes like what do we do in the pro, and what’s in the con columns. Everything I heard, to me, sounded like a con. And I did not hear a single pro.

So the first thing I’m interested in is what are the pros? What are the reasons you might want to stay in the group? Is there anything positive about it?

AH I like the one or two people that I like and have connected with. I like that it forces me outside my comfort zone every other week to go to a meeting and talk to people. I like the consistency of it. The rhythm is good; for me to have something on my schedule that forces me into some kind of regularity is very good for me.

MR That’s it?

AH I think that might be it.

MR [Laughing] I mean, I thought this was going to be a little more complicated, but it sounds kind of like you’ve answered your own question. In listening, I just kind of feel like there is an overwhelming list of things on the con column — on things that are negative about it. And the pros you gave me — I mean, I’d love to talk through some more details here, but my gut initially thinks in this direction. The pros you gave me are all things that are not unique to this particular group. The pros are, okay, you like a couple people. Well, you can find people you like anywhere. The consistency; you can find other ways of having consistent networking and getting you out of your comfort zone. Those can be found elsewhere as well. I mean, I — I don’t — I’m struggling to think of any reason to not just stop going today. And maybe we can talk through some, but I’m struggling to find any.

AH So I think I feel like a failure in that I couldn’t make this work for me, and also, I have definitely thought to myself, these people are going to think I suck if I quit after a year. I recognize intellectually that one year is not long enough to — for a networking group to necessarily be super successful. You start seeing returns after a year. So I guess I’m worried that I’m bailing too soon because I’m not seeing efficacy and maybe my expectations are incorrect. And I’m also very much like, oh, these people are going to think I suck and I’m a failure and I’m a quitter, and I don’t take networking seriously.

MR Yeah, I can see why that would be a concern —

AH Like —

MR However — oh, sorry, go ahead.

AH Nah, I guess — but I guess I just need to think do I really care what these 9 to 15 people think of me?

MR That’s a good point. So I’ve seen a gazillion networking groups, and everything you’ve told me kind of indicates this is not a very well-run networking group. So I would not feel guilty at all about acknowledging that and saying, you know what? I gave this a go. I realize that it takes more than a year to really invest. And if this were a group that were — like if half these things were there even, and there were a lot of things going well — like if they were more receptive to your values, if they were more openminded to diversity — making fun of millennials, to me, is a big turnoff as well because I think millennials rock. I’ve worked with millennials that are the smartest people on the planet. That turns me off bigtime. If they actually followed through — like this Realtor that doesn’t even bother putting her contact information. There are so many red flags that indicate that this group is not a healthy networking group. Now, maybe it’s fine for some people. Maybe it works really well for the financial planners or works really well for the whoever. And that’s great, but I wouldn’t think it means you’re a failure if you just decide you know what? I’m out of alignment. If you’re out of alignment with something, that’s different than feeling like you failed at it. And —

AH And I —

MR Yeah, go ahead.

AH I also feel bad, too, if it’s not a well-run group, then maybe I need to be the change and help make it a well-run group.

MR Oh, boy. That’s a can of worms. [Laughing]

AH I’m so tired, though. I don’t want to. I’m so tired. I don’t want to take — I did a really good job of stepping away from volunteerism years ago. And I have not regretted that, so why would I take it on?

MR I wouldn’t either. Part of me is like, yeah, let’s talk through it, and part of me is just like, it’s a no brainer. Part of me is just like stop going today. Even if you paid up to November, stop. There’s a sunk cost issue here of, oh, well I’ve paid for it. Well, I mean, your time is worth more than what’s going in here. And this is — it’s not all the time that we just say oh, it’s a no brainer/binary decision here. But in this case, I mean, as you were talking through the background, I just kept overwhelmingly saying, gosh, get out. Get out. [Laughing]

AH So if I decide to get out — I probably won’t quit right away because that would make me feel really weird especially after taking on some admin stuff voluntarily, I don’t want to —

MR Oh, you know what. I forgot about that. I forget you (indiscernible) responsibility.

AH Yeah, so, I don’t want to leave anybody in the lurch. So here’s the question. So let’s say I’m like, yeah, I’m going to be done. I’m going to stop going at, let’s say, the end of October. What do I — what and should I tell people why? Should I tell the head of the chamber of commerce why I’m not going to re-up with the chamber of commerce and should I — what do I say to the networking group themselves?

MR Um-hum. So for me, I probably be, obvious, very kind about it and very professional and very helpful. But be honest. I have done the same thing you’ve done. I’ve stopped going to networking groups, and I’ve not renewed for similar reasons. One of the reasons I gave was I’ve looked at my numbers, and the ROI has not been there. I feel like I’ve put a lot into the group, and I feel like — maybe it’s me, maybe it’s not me, but for whatever reason, I am not seeing referrals from the group. And I’m willing to say maybe it’s partially me, but I think I’m just going to try something else for a while. That’s a really neutral nonthreatening way to give a pretty clear numbers-based answer.

If it were me, I might go a little further and say, hey, there are some things out of alignment. I felt like my values don’t align with the chamber in these directions. I feel like a lot of members of the group don’t have the same commitment that I would love to see from everybody. I think that’s okay to say in a very nonthreatening, kind way. I don’t see — I’m a big fan of trying things, and if they don’t work, don’t dwell on them. So I think it’s perfectly fine.

AH Okay. So I have your permission and validation for not renewing my chamber of commerce membership. And —

MR I see zero problem with it. Yeah. Now, what I would do as a potential thing to think about is okay, how do we replace the things you’re looking for? And I mean, you probably already have plans for that, but —

AH I don’t.

MR — maybe our listeners — [Laughing] — okay.

AH I haven’t gotten that far.

MR Some of our listeners who might be thinking of this, the more that I’ve seen networking — this long history of doing networking, there are very few networking groups that can really provide great value. The ones that really do work well have a certain element and that element is strong relationships. And that’s why BNI chapters work so well. I realize BNI’s not for everybody. It may not be for you. But something that BNI does really is the consistency. You meet every week, it’s very structured, everyone has very, very clear expectations on what they’re supposed to do, BNI yells at people if they don’t follow the rules. It’s very, very structured. And it works and people get referrals because the accountability is so incredibly high.

I found in the past — there are exceptions — but I found in the past that chamber groups have a much lower accountability factor, and therefore it’s hard to get real traction and real business from it. It’s more of a social event as opposed to a true business networking event. And so I have seen very few chamber groups like this really pay off in the same way that a BNI-style event can run. Not that I’m endorsing BNI specifically because you can start your own networking group.

So one thing you might consider, if you’re going to put enough effort to being an admin for this group that is sucking your soul away, what if you put the same effort into starting your own networking group and handpicking people — maybe five or ten people — that you love, and maybe with similar effort and more joy, you could have a lot more success. That’s one thing I would think about.

AH Okay.

MR And it could be totally informal. It could be hey, there’s no dues, there’s no fees, but we’re going to follow these rules, and if you don’t follow these rules, we’re going to replace you — nicely, but we’re going to replace you. And that way you’re not messing with a bunch of administrative stuff, but you are dictating the tone.

AH I’ve tried to do that in the past, and I’ve had trouble finding enough people that could any particular time. But what I think — kind of reminded me of an idea I had a while back of — you know, Wednesday mornings work really well for me. So maybe I need to have a rotation of ten people that I do small-group coffees with. Like I put out an invitation for every other Wednesday morning coffee at this place to ten people, and if one shows up it’s a win. And maybe other people would be willing to put that on their calendar as a regular thing and see how that goes. It’s a little looser, but it would — there are a few people I’d like to connect with a little more in my neighborhood. And they’re all women, I’m realizing, so maybe I need to do that.

And also actually it’s kind of working for me — we’re doing this pool party thing at my house this summer, where every Sunday if the weather’s nice, I’m inviting people over for the pool. And so for the past three or four Sundays we’ve invited 30 people —

MR Nice.

AH — and every week only one or two comes because everybody’s got lives and their busy, and apparently I have friends who don’t want to come use my pool. But we’ve kind of been like, it’s kind of nice just having one or two people over. And maybe I’ll apply that to a networking situation. Okay.

MR Yeah, (indiscernible).

AH Thank you for talking through this with me, Michael. You want to take it home?

MR Yeah. I do want to add one more thing.

AH Okay.

MR We’ve been a little anti chamber — mostly me — in this episode. And I want to say there all right people in our community that are using the chamber really, really successfully. So this is more specific to your situation, I think, Allissa —

AH Yes.

MR But in general, I admit I am biased slightly against chambers for various reasons that we talked about already. But we have some members that are killing it at the chamber because they are — maybe their chamber is different, they’re working a certain system that works for them. So this is definitely —

AH And I was inspired by them. And I’m glad that I’ve tried it.

MR Yeah. But everyone is different. Every environment is different, every chamber is different, every person is different, every member is — so you have to do what works for you.

AH All right. Take it home.

MR All right, well, I can’t wait to hear an update later. So with that we will wrap up today. So thanks, everybody, for joining us. We appreciate you being a listener. Reminder you can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. And again, if you want to send us a shout, email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. We’d love to hear from you. So until then, have an awesome day, and we’ll see you next time.

AH Bye.

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