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Massage Today
January, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 01

It's Not All About You

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

When meeting someone new, the most frequently asked question is "What do you do for a living?" It happens all the time, everywhere you go. Our occupation defines us on so many levels; it has become the all-time introductory question.

In the sea of massage therapists, the answers don't vary much. "I am a massage therapist," or "I am a Reiki practitioner," or "I am a licensed body worker." The answers are basically all the same. And truth to tell, most people aren't inspired by those answers.

Often, when I am at a networking group or working with professionals who are introducing themselves, I hear a diatribe of details about them. Ranging from education, certifications, locations or sales numbers, many people feel these details are what can make or break a sale. Nothing is further from the truth. A potential client wants to learn what you can do for them. They want you to be interested in talking about them and their issues, not you and your practice. The acronym WIIFM stands for "What's In It For Me?" and should be the mantra of all introductions.

Imagine you have a toothache and go to the dentist. The dentist welcomes you, sits you in the chair, straps the bib on and starts to sell you of her certifications, licenses and latest procedures. Only after she finishes talking about herself does she address your tooth. Sounds crazy? Yet, that's what most massage therapists do when they meet a potential client.

Don't despair. You were probably trained to introduce yourself this way. You may have been encouraged in school to develop a sound bite or elevator speech for meeting new people. I have personally taught my undergraduate students to prepare a speech for meeting new people. This comes from being new in the field and needing to gain confidence and establish your credibility. Even if you came to massage therapy from another profession, you were green when you graduated and needed to practice introductions by listing your experience, modalities and schooling. However, now that you are a graduate and attempting to build a thriving practice, change it up. Your credibility will be established from the questions you ask, not from your verbal resume.

People love talking about themselves. Even more, people like talking about their problems. As massage therapists, I am sure you know way too much about complete stranger's frozen shoulders, arthritis and low back pain. Call it an occupational hazard; it comes with the territory. But if you meet someone who may be a potential client, try this. Introduce yourself, state what you do and start asking questions. Get them talking. Find out about them and from that, glean how and if massage therapy can help. If you can answer WIIFM, you are on the right track. Save explaining why you're the right massage therapist for the job until you've really identified their specific wants or needs. If they have questions about your background or expertise, they'll ask. Keep the focus on the person you are speaking with and you'll increase the likelihood that if you have the right skills, you'll be the massage therapist they choose.

For many massage therapists, it is hard to meet new people. It is even harder to try to sell yourself and your skills. But if you can forget that is what you are trying to do, have an honest conversation with someone and keep the focus on them, you've got a good chance at gaining a new client. Remember, it's not all about you.


Click here for more information about Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.

 

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