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Massage Today
November, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 11

Enhancing Your Networking Skills: Getting People to Talk About You

By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR

I have always relied on word-of-mouth to spread the word about my services. And from this developed the concept of champions. A champion is an advocate and trusted friend that helps spread the word about your mission and service.

How can you meet future champions? Network and get people talking. Lots of us don't like the idea of networking. If you think networking is only about going to a chamber of commerce coffee or cocktail hour, think again.

Networking definition

One definition of networking is: A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest. Support; share; common interest ... maybe it's not so scary after all!

There is a great book written by Andy Sernovitz called, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He teaches a process he calls the Five "T's" of word of mouth marketing and I've applied them in hopes of showing you where to connect with people who are already champions of good care of people in later life stages.

Talkers

networking - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Who might be willing to talk about you, your service and your story about the power of touch and the difference it can make in people's lives? Where in your community might you meet health care professionals who are really interested in your special form of service? Social workers, nurses, activity professionals and chaplains are among some of the folks who you should consider colleagues if you want to work in a hospital, hospice or eldercare environment. Find out how to meet them in your own city. I've done some of the homework for you and created a list of online networking opportunities. Many of these sites include state or local directories — some even list people's names and phone numbers.

Topics

Sernovitz tells us to give people a reason to talk. I think this one is pretty easy. We have a captivating story to tell about how massage and touch changes lives. If you offer a unique service, let people know. I like to tell people I specialize in massage therapy for people in hospice and eldercare. When I tell someone that, they often talk about their own experience. For example, the great care their sister received from hospice. I might say something like, "I'm glad you had a positive experience. Did you know that many hospices now offer massage therapy for their patients?" The conversation goes on from there and I have a chance to gain a champion.

Tools

How can you make it easy for people to spread the word about you? I think of tools in two ways: tangible and intangible. Tangible tools are things like flyers, brochures, free samples, products branded with your company logo. Intangible tools mostly happen online, including blogs and online communities, the "Tell a Friend" button on your website and electronic newsletters.

Taking Part

Join the conversation and tell your story! The resources listed below include networking groups relevant to eldercare and hospice.

Tracking

Pay attention to people who are talking about you and what they have to say — good and bad. Ask for feedback and when you get it, reply. Say thank you when someone praises your service, and then ask them to tell others. Offer to make it right when the feedback is less than positive or if there is a problem. I have a Google alert set for my own name, as well as my business and other topics related to my work. That way I can take part right away.

Before I knew about the Five T's

Several years ago, I attended a book signing. The book was about a creative approach to advanced directives and how to communicate your wishes should you become ill. As you might imagine, not a topic that attracted droves of people, but those of us who showed up had lots of things in common. Standing in line to get my book signed, I overheard the guys in front of me talking about something (I don't even recall now what it was). I introduced myself and that I had overheard them and was interested in what they were saying. Turned out they were talking about happenings at a local organization that advocated for people in end-of-life care. They invited me to a meeting — and I went. Representatives from local hospitals, hospices, the Alzheimer's Association, faith communities, senior centers, city officials and the university were members of this organization. What started out as conversation at a book store, launched several years of involvement with this group and relationships that still serve me in my career. I showed up, spoke up and took part and I encourage you to do the same. You just never know who you'll bump into!


1. Hospice Association of America: www.nahc.org. A a national organization representing thousands of hospices, caregivers and volunteers who serve terminally ill patients and their families.

2. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: http://my.nhpco.org/NHPCO/Home/. The largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care programs and professionals in the United States. They have a great site for social networking called Share, Care, Connect.

3. HospiceDirectory.org: www.hospicedirectory.org. An extensive directory of hospices in the United States and Canada, as well as state hospice organizations.

4. Pioneer Network: www.pioneernetwork.net. Advocates and facilitates deep system change and transformation in our culture of aging. Includes a directory of coalitions by state.

5. Linked in Groups: www.linkedin.com. Click on the Groups tab to find a directory of networking groups.

6. The Elder Care Network is where Professionals, Service Providers and Vendors come together to partner in providing resources, products, services and referrals for families in need of Elder Care/Senior Care solutions for loved ones.

7. Alzheimer's & Dementia Professionals provides a forum for all professionals serving individuals with dementia and their caregivers to network on advances in the field, job opportunities or to share job openings, etc.

8. Alzheimer Coach offers educational resources, articles, information, and a discussion forum to caregivers, health professionals, and families who face Alzheimer's and dementia.

9. Advocates for Person Centered Care is for anyone who is an advocate for Person Centered Care in our senior population. If you are willing to share ideas for creating such an environment in existing settings such as in-home care, assisted living, dementia care facilities and skilled nursing homes, please join our group.

10. Hospice - Forum for All provides support and\or networking to those of us providing hospice services in one form or another, be it in a corporate office or in the field. A group dedicated to hospice and hospice related health care used for the purpose of networking, information exchange, prospecting and encouragement in this ever changing world of hospice.

11. Home Health and Hospice is a group of home health and hospice executives developed for the purpose of professional networking and creating resources to assist in meeting the demands of the fast changing climates in home health and hospice.

12. Caregivers Connection is connecting everyday caregivers, professional caregivers, and industry related professionals with an interest in home health related issues and caregiving. We want to explore certain angles of the industry including retirement living, safety issues, technology products, and remote caregiving.


Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.

 

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