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26 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a r c h / a p r i l 2 0 1 8 Making new connections is vital to keeping a small business growing and thriving. In our last column ("Root Canal or Networking?" January/February 2018, page 24), we conquered networking awkwardness and how to get out of a rut and into successful networking situations. Now that you have these connections (on top of all the connections you made before you even realized you were networking!), what do you do with them? Like every other successful relationship, they require some effort and diligence. I'm a big fan of ritualizing all the tasks of running a business, and networking is no exception. Breaking down the steps of nurturing your network will make it easier to do. Massage therapists typically have two networks to consider: current clients and business referral partners. These networks require different approaches, so we'll tackle them separately. CURRENT CLIENTS—ASK, TRACK, THANK Clients are often our most fruitful referral partners, so it's important to have a routine for recognizing and thanking those loyal referrers. I follow an Ask, Track, Thank protocol. The first step is to ask how a new client came to you. You can put "Referred by …" on your intake form, and then ask, "May I thank them for referring you?" It's pretty rare that someone wouldn't want you to thank the referral source, but it's important to be respectful of the new client's privacy, and it sets a professional tone. Win-win! Next, you'll need to track where your referrals are coming from. Create a spreadsheet or a paper file and make note of your most common referral sources. It may start with "website," "Facebook," "Yelp," then slowly build a list of clients who refer to you as they come in. Make a notation as more referrals come in from those sources. It doesn't need to be fancy; it just needs to be easy to use. Finally, it's important to thank your referral sources. You may choose to send an email, but I'm a fan of the old-school, handwritten thank-you note. It adds a level of class and conveys how much you appreciate the referral. There's no need for a Shakespearean monologue, just a simple, "Thank you so much for referring Jane! Your trust and referrals mean the world to me." Keep a stack of notecards and stamps handy and decide exactly how you will ritualize the task. I find it's easiest if I do it right away—the same day a new client comes in—as I make notes on their first visit and file the intake form. Some may find it's easier to send notes on a weekly or monthly schedule. Figure out what works for you and make it happen for every single referral. BUSINESS REFERRAL PARTNERS Nurturing our business-to-business relationships requires a different approach. Sending a handwritten thank-you note is still a great idea and adds a personal touch to the relationship, but there's more to do. The most obvious way to build the partnership is to send your referral partners new customers. When a client mentions needing an oil change, recommend your car guy. When a client could benefit from physical therapy, send them to your favorite local practice. That will be more memorable and meaningful than anything else you can do, and it will lead to more referrals coming your way, as well. BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS best practices Nurturing Your Network Current Clients and Business Referral Partners By Allissa Haines

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