When I bring up the topic of self care, most people think of the physical aspect of wellness. Listening to your body, ensuring you keep your fascia loose and hydrated, and regularly engaging in physical activity are all important. But the mental aspect of self care is equally important. For me, that includes stepping out of my comfort zone to work to build my business. After all, keeping my business running efficiently and with a manageable client list certainly keeps my stress in check.
When I started my career in massage therapy in 2001, I was working at a spa and health food store while slowly building a practice in my home. I knew I needed a continual flow of new clients in order to grow my business, and networking was the key.
The idea of handing out as many business cards as possible and expecting the recipients to give you business in exchange was one of the things that turned me off about networking. I give referrals because I believe in the person and the way they conduct business. And I certainly don’t want people referring clients to me just because they spoke to me for five minutes at a chamber of commerce event.
After asking around, I was finally directed to the Rochester Women’s Network (RWN), a networking organization that focuses on connecting and supporting women in all stages of their careers. Unlike the BNIs I had tried out, membership is not limited to one person per industry. And, unlike many other networking groups I visited, the focus of RWN is on building relationships instead of the quantity of referrals you give and receive. Through the connections I’ve made at RWN, I learned that networking is about more than simply passing out your business card – it’s about getting to know someone, their business and how they conduct themselves professionally. The referrals then happen organically.
If you own a small business or work in a field that relies heavily on referrals and gaining new customers, networking is what many consider to be a necessary evil. Yes, it can be intimidating until you find the organization or style that works best for you. But I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and get out there.
Networking is about more than simply finding new clients. Through RWN I have certainly grown my business. But I have also gained the confidence to network without fear, learned about other professions and made lifelong friends. And all of that has helped me to grow and improve my massage therapy practice, which leads to less stress for me.
If you are interested in learning more about the Rochester Women’s Network, please join me for the September networking event on September 26. I will be co-hosting the event with Christine Vella-Cibella, owner of Bella Zen Spa.