What happens when a potential client googles your name or your business name? Does it matter? Michael and Allissa talk through the aspects of a Virtual First Impression.
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everybody. 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 And we’re your hosts today. Hello, everybody. Happy holiday season.
AH Yeah. It’s like we’re in it now.
MR We’re in it.
AH We’re totally in it. How was your Thanksgiving?
MR It was very tame. Nothing —
MR I had pumpkin pie, which is — a long as I have a lot of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, that’s my checkmark to say success. So I ate half a pumpkin pie all by myself so.
AH Nice, dude.
MR Well done, Michael. How was yours?
AH It was very mellow. We did our bagel bar with salmon and cream cheese and the kids loved it.
MR I know. I loved seeing your dinner spread. It was so great.
AH I know. I should be clear. The kids did not eat salmon and cream cheese. And I didn’t actually eat cream cheese either because I can’t. But everybody got a bagel of their choosing and we — it was — I mean, the last bite had been eaten and the kids were like, so, we going to put up Christmas decorations? So we did that.
MR I saw that. Your Christmas tree looks amazing.
AH It’s so — and the kids really did decorate all of it, so it was really nice.
AH Yeah, and we watched Elf, which was really nice.
MR Oh, I love Elf.
AH And then the little one — the little one all weekend just wanted to watch every Christmas movie and show on. So we’ve just immersed ourselves in the holiday situation, and I am so delighted to be back working today.
MR Did you see the —
AH I missed five days of school.
MR Have you watched the Christmas Chronicles movie that came out on Thanksgiving? With Kurt Russel?
AH Oh, no. But I hear it — somebody told me to watch it.
MR It’s a good one. I liked it. It’s very funny. It’s entertaining for both kids and adults. So I recommend that one.
AH Noted. I’m going to look into it. All right, what are we talking about today, Michael?
MR Our topic today is making the best virtual impression.
AH Oh, yeah. So —
MR Oh, yeah.
AH So this is kind of for students, but really, it’s for everyone. And there’s a whole lot of reasons we’re inspired to cover this today, but mostly because I’m always looking for massage therapists in my area and often in areas near me for certain clients. And somebody the other day was like, hey — somebody across the country was like do you know any massage therapist in South Shore area of Boston, and I looked and looked and was mortified by what I saw. And also by a total vacancy, a void, of online presence for massage therapist in that particular area.
So this is relevant to students, people who are going to be starting a career in massage, but really for everyone. Because even if you think you’ve got a good online presence, you might need a little brush up on some of these things. It used to be that your first impression as a massage therapist was you wanted to be wearing clean clothes, and you wanted to have trimmed nails, and a good handshake, and a good business card, and that was it. And that’s not the case anymore. Nowadays, most people that you meet are going to know you by the first impression that you made on the internet when they were searching for your name — if they had met you — or if someone had passed a card along to you — to them — your card along to them is what I’m trying to say. Or if they googled massage and their town name because they were looking for something, and most first impressions are virtual ones now; they happen in cyberspace. It’s a very different situation and we have to just like — consider it practicing your digital handshake.
So the first thing you want to know is what happens when people type your name into the Google search bar? What comes up on that first page? You want to do this a couple of different ways. You want to — well, Michael, actually, let me throw this to you and ask you what are the steps someone has to go through to get an accurate Google search result of their name and/or their business name.
MR When you say — could you clarify — when you say “accurate search results”, what — can you clarify —
AH Just what anyone else would get versus what they get from their browser maybe —
MR Oh, gotcha, gotcha. So the best way to do that is with an incognito window or a private browsing window. Every browser has the option to open up what’s called a private browsing window and that will sign you out of everything, it will kind of mask your location and browsing data, and that should give you a fairly objective view.
AH Great. So you want to open a private browsing window. On Google, it’s called incognito. I think on Mozilla it’s just called private browsing. But your browser definitely has one. So you want to open that up, and you want to search your name, and you want to search your name in conjunction with the word “massage” or maybe in conjunction with your town name. Ditto this for your business name. And you want to see what comes up.
Now, for me, this is easy; it’s a no brainer because the first coupe things that come up are my massage website because I’ve been working on that for a long time. But if you’re new or if you’ve been around a long time but you don’t have a massage website, you’re going to get a lot of other things. You’ll probably get some random listings — like if you’ve had a business for a while — of massage business listings that pop up with or without your help or enrollment. You might have — sometimes if you type in my name, you’ll just get a link to my Facebook personal profile. You could get any of a variety of things. But what you want to make sure is that what’s popping up looks good, that it’s a good first impression. If someone types in your name because they heard about you and it brings them to your Twitter profile, which is a variety — or let’s say, brings you to your Instagram and it brings them to a whole bunch of your Instagram pictures of you getting hammered at your cousin’s wedding, that’s probably not the best impression that you want to be sending. Or your Twitter profile that is full of really lewd jokes. Not the best first impression. I think it’s obvious where I’m going here.
The important thing here is to understand is that you want whatever comes up in that search bar to be respectable, a decent online presence, so that your absurd Twitter history or other things that might be connected to your name fall way at the bottom and no one will ever see them. And this is a thing that can happen over time and you can make — and we’ll talk about how to make this all better if you’ve got a terrible online presence, in a few minutes. But that’s what you want to do. Yeah. So before we jump into social media and email stuff, I think that kind of covers the general browser bit. Michael do you have anything to add there?
MR No, no. It’s a good start. I know you’re going to hit some more stuff later, so after halftime, I’m sure there will be more detail.
AH All right, what are we talking about today at halftime, Michael?
MR Our halftime sponsor is — are you ready?
AH I’m ready.
MR Are you sure?
AH Do it.
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MR No, just love jojoba. And don’t forget to — it doesn’t — when it’s cold, just bring it back to a warm environment, it will re-liquify, and it’s good as new.
MR Word-vice for the winter.
AH [laughs] So I keep all my overstock supplies in a closet that gets really cool and usually stays really cool so my jojoba’s partially solid all year round anyway. Whatever, it’s fine.
AH All right, back to your virtual handshake, your virtual identity and first impression as a massage therapist. Social media, man. Like I said, sometimes searching just for your name will bring up your social media profiles, but what if someone actually goes to the Facebook? Or what if one of your friends is trying to refer you to another friend because they need a massage therapist and then that potential referral goes to your Facebook profile? Even if they’re not connected as a friend, have you really locked down what people you’re not friend-connected with, and even people you are friend-connected with, can see?
Social media is awesome. It gives you the opportunity to connect, one, with other massage therapists all around the world with a network and a community, which is great for building a career. It can really help you feel the support of community in a career where otherwise you can feel very isolated. And also, like there’s — social media’s fantastic for watching — looking at pictures of cats in bags and different containers, which they love to do. I am a big fan of such videos. But it’s also a world of first impressions. So you might be very proud of your new abs if you’ve been working out and lifting and crunching like crazy, but it might not be appropriate for a potential client to see lots of photos of you in your bikini or drinking your health shake and also, again, lots of pictures of you in a casual place at your cousin’s wedding. If you — you want to be mindful. You’ve got to kind of log out of all your social media accounts and kind of stalk yourself. Or stalk yourself through a friend’s profile; ask them for a little help. See what’s available to the public. See what’s available only to your friends and family. Do you need to — no matter what you do on Facebook, your profile picture and your cover photos are usually available for most people to see — as least your current ones. Are they decent? Do you care? Do you need to operate your business under a name that is different from your actual person name so that never the two should meet? Although, there’s always going to be crossover because your name’s going to be on your bio page and your clients obviously need to know your name. Do you need to change over your social media accounts so that they don’t have your real or full name on them? Or can you simply project a more appropriate presence on your social media and/or lock it down really tight?
Anything to add on about social media there, Michael?
MR Some networks like Facebook, for example, let you view as someone else or view as the public, I think, so you don’t have to log out; you can actually just use that setting and see how your profile looks from the outside, too.
AH Yeah, not all of the networks have those. And also, I don’t know if you’ve tried to do that lately, Michael? I actually do that fairly frequently. It’s not an option anymore because that was, on Facebook at least —
AH — or they moved it, and I don’t know. Because it was a security issue. That was part of the security issues they had a couple months ago with Facebook where it turned out hackers could go look at profiles — I don’t know. That feature became an issue.
MR Oh, you’re right. I don’t see it anymore. Well, I am out of the loop on that. Good call.
AH Hey, I knew a techy thing that you didn’t.
MR Oh, look at that.
AH Two points to me.
MR Two points.
AH So meanwhile, while we’re talking about all this stuff online — this is slightly different. I’m going to veer into email because it’s a thing that many of us didn’t realize and also could just — even if we did realize it at some point, we probably need a spiff up. It’s really, really easy to overlook email. When you compare it with all the other ways that people connect on the internet, it’s kind of antiquated. But it’s not. It’s still a really vital form of communication. So this is really true for massage therapists who are looking for employment, but also if you’re communicating with potential clients or referral partners via email, you want to up your game a little bit.
First thing is your email address, and I’ve honked this horn before. But you want to make sure you have an appropriate email address. So like fuzzybunny22 at hotmail is not an appropriate email address to be communicating to potential clients or referral partners. So even if you’re nota t the stage of your career — even if you’re a student still or you’re working for someone else or whatever, if you don’t have a custom email — like mine is firstname.lastname@example.org — it’s got that custom “my website is my email address” thing going on. Even if you don’t have that, you want to have something appropriate; allissahaines at gmail.com, and I’m lucky that I have a rare spelling and stuff of my name so that’s not hard. And I understand that if your name is Karen Murphy, which is pretty common, you’re going to have to come up with something else. But you should really have an email address that is not funny or casual. It should be something very clearly professional and kind of boring, sorry.
You want to remember, too, that if you are emailing people, you don’t want to be using text-speak or shortened language. You want to be using full words and punctuation. It doesn’t have to be eloquent, but it needs to be proper if you want to make a good impression. Even if the person you’re communicating with is using excessive smiley faces and the letter U instead of spelling out Y-O-U, you should be responded in a slightly more professional manner. It’s just part of your virtual handshake. I promise you, I sound like an old fogey, but it really does matter.
You also kind of want to remember your email signature line. And I’m totally going to make Michael on-the-spot tell us — Michael, what’s an email signature line and what should be in it?
MR Sure. An email signature is the, kind of, credit at the bottom of your emails. So it’s usually — you can make it automatic. So whatever email program you’re using, like gmail or whatever, it’ll automatically populate, and it’s kind of just a way of professionally signing off on your emails. And it usually contains your name, your title, your business name, your phone number, website address, maybe any credentials you have.
One big pet peeve of mine is when email signatures do not contain phone numbers. Now, in some business you don’t need a phone number. But in a bigger business or something where phone is kind of a regular thing, it always bugs me when I’m emailing back and forth and we want to do a phone call and they don’t have their phone number listed in their signature. It always bugs me. So if you are the type of business that you take phone calls for clients, then, definitely include that as well.
AH I don’t really take phone calls from clients, and I still have my phone number in that email address because it’s helpful. Every so often, there’s something that need to be handled by phone — or especially if a client is coming to my office for the first time and we’ve been emailing, they might, at the last minute, have trouble getting to me or be struggling with my address or whatever. So in my email signature line, it says Allissa Haines, massage therapist, and it’s got my office address including the ZIP Code, which matters because people might need to find your office and a ZIP Code can be helpful, and my phone number, and my website address. One thing that it does not have, because I see this a lot, it doesn’t have my email address.
MR Yeah, you don’t need that.
AH Because it’s in my email. And yet I have had people ask me my email address in an email.
AH So bless their heart.
AH I think we’re probably past that point of internet newness, hopefully, but every so often it happens. But no, you do not need your email address in your email signature.
You might want to rethink — there’s a lot of people who will embed a certain quote at the end of their email, like, note that whatever you put in there is setting an impression as well. So it might be fine, or it could be a bit much. I personally can’t stand it when I get business emails from people and they have some philosophical quote in the bottom of it. I find it super annoying. I have enough to read, please don’t make me look at this quote at the bottom of your email. But whatever, that’s just me. That’s my pet peeve. If that’s your jam, then rock on.
MR You’re kind of curmudgeony though.
AH I am so curmudgeony. That said, you don’t have any fancy quotes at the bottom of your email, do you?
MR No, I actually used to. But I decided they were not my thing either so I stopped doing it years ago.
AH Thank goodness.
MR [laughs] You’re welcome.
AH So yeah, just to kind of wrap this up, everybody has a story about walking into a job interview and bumbling like a moron. There’s nothing seamless in the world. You’re just — you’re going to have issues and no one is immaculately professional and nobody can really even decide an issue of professionals especially for massage therapists. So don’t over stress. But do take a few of these steps to really clean it up. If someone’s really determined to find some dirt on you, they are going to find that picture of you half-naked and just, whatever, stoned out of your gourd on a beach somewhere. But there are things you can do, that we have mentioned above, to minimize that.
And I just want to make note here, my personal little pet peeve, that oh, my gosh, get a website, people. I mean, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably like one of those massage therapists who’s a little closer to this not-so-cutting edge of the internet. But good grief. Just trying to find a massage therapist in the South Shore of Boston was ridonkulous. And I even posted in a massage discussion group for Massachusetts therapists, and I got two replies and their websites weren’t real websites. I literally was like, if you practice in this area, could you leave me a link to your website, I might have a referral for you. And two people posted. One person it was like the most weird, strange, third-party website through — actually I think it was through NCP or something. But it was so strange. They didn’t actually say what their full name was, where their office was, there was no — I just couldn’t find a darn massage therapist in Boston, people. It’s ridonkulous.
I’m still startled and shocked and dismayed by the number of massage therapists who don’t have websites at all. And then the onslaught of terrible, low-quality ones. The best way to spiff up your online presence is to have a decent website, which is not that hard to do with one of the DIY builders, at least to get you started. So I don’t know – I guess we’ll have to do a whole other shtick on that. But yeah, that’s the best way to clean up your online presence is to make it so that your website pops up closer to the top above the link to your Facebook profile.
So let us know how that turns out. If you do some googling on yourself, if you do a little stalking through your own social media profiles, let us know how that goes. If you were dismayed by something and are having trouble fixing it, let us know that too. You can comment under this podcast at the website massagebusinessblueprint.com/podcast and find this episode, which is episode number —
AH 193. Thank you, Michael. Or you can email us at email@example.com and we’ll answer you. That email goes to both Michael and I and sometimes we fight over who gets to answer them.
MR [laughs] Or who doesn’t.
AH Or fight over who has to answer them.
MR Or who doesn’t want to. [laughs]
AH Rarely. Rarely.
MR We’re usually clamoring to answer them.
AH Yes. I’m done.
MR A lot of this comes down to paying attention to details also. I mean, little stuff like when you set up your email program, instead of putting just your first name in all lowercase in the name field, put your full name with proper capitalization. Make it look professional . When you fill your email signature, make it look professional. Make the details look good. When you set up your Facebook or your LinkedIn profile or Twitter or whatever, put your real name there and make it look professional. Proper capitalization, credentials, LMT after it, whatever. A lot of this is just paying attention to little details and just being aware. I’m starting to soapbox; I’m going to stop. [laughs]
AH I know we could go on about this for a while. But it is super important so I hope that you got something out of this.
MR Yeah, right on. And honestly that’s — I’m going to say something probably controversial; I’m probably going to offend some people by saying this, but this is why I’m convinced that a lot of the big massage chains are doing better than some of the independent practitioners. Because the Massage Envys, the Elements, they have a professional website. And when people google “massage” and they look for places to get a massage, they find those places, they have a website that has lots of information about the services, it makes them feel comfortable, and they can book, and it’s really easy to book. This is not difficult to understand.
So you’re right. If you have a great website, you are automatically competing positively with the other practitioners out there and the bigger chains that also have a great website. So it’s kind of a barrier to entry; it’s kind of minimum level of you have to have this to compete online.
AH You really do. And you know, if you’re not sold on websites, anyway, this probably isn’t the best podcast for you. [laughs]
AH Oh, God. I’m so tired. [laughs]
MR Ah, the holiday season where we lose half our listeners because we go on rants or soapboxes. [laughs] Although, we did get some feedback recently from someone who said hey, Allissa and Michael, I love your political rants, so please keep them coming. So there is always a flip side.
AH There is.
MR For every angry smitty out there who hates our political rants, there is someone else who likes them. So there’s that.
AH And there hasn’t been one in a while and I don’t anticipate any coming up. So there’s that.
MR Oh, there you go. Way to get in the Christmas spirit. All right, so with that, we will wrap it up there. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. We appreciate you being a listener. Our website, as always, is massagebusinessblueprint.com. And as Allissa mentioned earlier, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again for joining us today. Have a great day, and we’ll see you next time.