5 Step “GTD” Method to Build Your Massage Referral Network
If you don’t have a networking group or groups, it’s time to start looking! If you are already involved in a massage referral network, there’s plenty of room to diversify into new areas to increase your massage therapy client base.
Who is a good candidate for you to build a formal referral partnership with or even a less formal networking relationship? Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
These local businesses may be a good fit...
- Physician group
- Yoga studio
- Physical therapist
- Hair salon
- Private gym or YMCA
- Country club
These types of networking groups and associations may be a good fit…
- Chamber of Commerce
- Business Network International (BNI)
- AMTA, ABMP
- National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
- Regional or national specialty associations (ex: New York State Reflexology Association)
Create an organization system and process
Once you start making new connections and referral partners, it's critical to have a system of organizing the information and following up with your network. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all system, there are certainly best practices and methods that you can adapt to fit your style.
Do you love working with complex spreadsheets? How about paper, file folders and sticky notes? Maybe a combination of digital and paper file systems are your thing? We all have different ways of staying organized, so you have to first decide what way works best for you.
The “Getting Things Done” method is a system that works, and if you haven’t read the book by David Allen you should go read it right now. The five simple steps, and you can use these literally any way that works best for you, are the following:
1. Capture - collect what has your attention
2. Clarify - process what it means
3. Organize - put it where it belongs
4. Reflect - review frequently
5. Engage - simply do it
Employing a process like this with your networking and referral partners is a great way to stay organized and make sure that your referral relationships are thriving, and not left forgotten in a drawer.
Let’s go through each step and figure out how you can apply it towards managing your referrals and partners. Imagine a scenario where you may have just met a new contact at a networking event or stopped by a chiropractor’s office to drop off your letter of introduction. How are you going to capture, clarify, organize, reflect and engage your new potential referral partner? How are your going to make sure that contact doesn’t fall through the cracks?
Capturing is about finding a consistent way of collecting information and dumping it in a spot you’ll always go back to.
Figure out how you are going to capture and collect information from your networking contact. If you dropped off a letter of introduction, make a note of your follow up action in your “capture place” (which may be a physical inbox, a notebook, an online calendar event or to-do list).
For networking events where you’ll be meeting a lot of new people it’s a good idea to collect business cards and keep them in a binder in your office. Use page protectors or business card inserts to organize them so they aren’t all in a pile.
If you hate dealing with paper, use a scanning app on your smart phone (Genius Scan) to organize your business cards digitally.
Pro tip: Take a snapshot of your contact and file it along with her business card so when you see her next month, you’ll remember her name! Doing all of this on your phone makes it super easy.
Clarifying is about processing the information you have captured. As in each step, create a very specific and consistent method for processing. A good example is email management: the clarifying step would be when you go through each email, read it, and decide if you want to do a quick reply, trash it, or flag it for later action.
During this step, you will set aside time to process and ask questions like: Is this actionable? Should I throw this away or file it? If it takes less than a couple of minutes to do, do it now (a quick follow up email or writing a physical note and popping it in the mail). If it takes more time (such as writing a longer thank you letter or making a phone call) then delegate it or put it on your action list. The action list comes into play later. Again, it’s all about making a process for handling your to-dos and follow ups in a consistent and predictable manner.
Organizing is about putting everything in the right place. Perhaps you keep separate lists for certain actions: calls to make, errands to run, emails to send, note cards to mail, etc. During this step you’ll put action reminders on your lists, create calendar reminders, file papers and business cards that have collected in your inbox.
Reflecting is about frequent reviews and clean up. Look over your lists as often as necessary to determine what to do next. Do a weekly review of your networking contacts, upcoming and past events, lists. Make updates. Reflecting on your priorities and lists will help you clear your mind, knowing you are organized and nothing is forgotten. During reflection, prepare for any networking events that are coming up.
To be fully engaged at each networking event, it’s important to set aside plenty of time. Ideally, you’ll want time before the event to prepare your elevator speech, think of questions you might ask people, prepare your own responses for questions you anticipate, and review your contacts for this particular group.
Engaging is about just doing it.
Do your personal follow ups. Make calls. Go through your lists and do the more time-consuming actions that didn’t get taken care of during the “clarify” step. Here’s an example we took from Massamio’s Business Networking for Massage Therapist's Email Course [affiliate link]:
"The follow-up to an event is especially important. Sending a mass email to all of your new contacts is one of the worst ways to do it. It’s quick and easy, but it’s also easily forgettable. Make your first impression with people stick by personally following up after a meeting with a personalized email or LinkedIn invite. Some people even send hand-written note cards, much to the delight of the recipient. The goal is to stay in touch and meet again to solidify a connection and a relationship with your new business contact.”
Some action items that you’ll engage in during this step may be:
- Email follow up
- Phone call follow up
- Connecting through social media
- Writing a letter of recommendation
- Writing a letter of introduction to a new referral contact
- Sending a thank you note
Schedule time each day to “do” all the things that need to be done. You’ll feel confident knowing you have a system where all of the information is in the right place. When you finally sit down to engage in your networking action items you will go through your list quickly and productively.
Using the 5 Steps to “Getting Things Done” is a great way to organize your networking plan for your massage therapy practice. The key to making it work is to form habits to consistently follow the process. The process helps you get all the noise, clutter, and confusion out of your head and into the system. And it really does work for more than just networking and referrals. You can use this system to organize everything you need to do in your life, including growing and maintaining your referral network.