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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 25 A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 25 Yuck. How awkward. Elevator pitches tend to look great on paper, but when you actually try to use them in real life, you sound like a robot. Keep it simple with something like, "I'm a massage therapist. Have you ever had a massage?" Now you've actually started a conversation. No matter what the other person answers with, you have a chance to talk about massage in a conversational way rather than just spitting out a recited pitch. REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE IS AWKWARD There's this myth that everyone else is good at networking and somehow you're the only one who has anxiety. Guess what? Everyone is awkward. At least half the people in the room are afraid of tripping and spilling their beverage. With this in mind, try putting the focus on rescuing others. If you find yourself at a networking event, look for people who need a friend and swoop in to save them from boredom. I like to find someone who is also sticking close to the wall, avoiding the fray. I walk over and say, "This looks like the perfect place to people-watch. May I join you and attempt some awkward networking conversation?" You could also try the traditional approach. Introduce yourself, shake hands, and say something like, "I'm not great at networking events. Any advice for me?" This breaks the ice and starts a conversation. Or just ask them about their day. See if you can help them. HAVE AN EXIT PLAN In networking, there's nothing worse than being cornered by someone who wants to tell you their life story and will not shut up. The mortgage agent seemed nice enough when you introduced yourself, but after 15 minutes of listening to them pontificate about how amazing they are, you need an exit. One of the easiest ways to extract yourself from this situation is to act like you're doing the other person a favor. Try saying, "Well, I don't want to keep you from meeting more people. It was great talking to you!" It can be as simple as that. Being up front and direct is better than faking it. MAKE NETWORKING A HABIT Many people think networking only happens at formal events like BNI meetings or chamber of commerce mixers. But networking can happen any time. It's as simple as striking up a conversation in line at the grocery store or telling a client about the physical therapist around the corner. It can mean getting to know people you volunteer with at a local nonprofit. It can be chatting up the other parents at your kid's soccer games. As you get into a networking mind- set, it will become easier. The more connections you make and the more you help people, the more you will attract business of your own. Allissa Haines runs a massage practice and collaborative wellness center in Massachusetts. She partners with Michael Reynolds to create business and marketing resources for massage therapists like you at

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