As a massage therapist, you will come across clients who will ask you for a referral to a specialist. It could be anyone from a dermatologist to a chiropractor, from a hypnotherapist to an acupuncturist.
The point here is that, the more connected you are, the more referrals you will get. Plus, you get the added bonus of being perceived as very knowledgeable in your field and on top of your game.
Of course you don’t need to be a walking and talking Who’s Who of the medical community, but making connections early on in your career will bring you dividends.
If you don’t have a ready-made list of practitioners, or if a client asks for a referral and you don’t have any contacts in the field, you can always use social media to get help.
My preference goes to twitter as it’s fast and you can check people’s profiles immediately. Twitter will give you an indication of how active practitioners are, if they have conversations with the general public and if they are helpful. The last thing you want to do is to refer a specialist and they never return a phone call. It has happened to me a few times and it looks bad on both myself and the specialist. The client feels let down and we don’t want that to happen.
Now, let’s look at different scenarios.
Say you are a sports massage therapist. Your ideal client is an athlete, sports professional or active/sporty person at amateur level. Getting to know physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths will help you gain new clients and make good recommendations by referring out if your expertise does not cover specific injuries.
Following on from this scenario, let’s say your client has a torn Achilles tendon. Assuming it will not require surgery or a cast, this type of injury is best treated by a doctor or physiotherapist who will apply some dry needling or steroid injection. If you are able to refer your client to someone who will treat him/her promptly, you have gained the respect of both client and specialist. You can then agree with a specialist a recovery programme to get the client back on their feet.
Now, let’s assume you specialise in manual lymphatic drainage and your clients are women who are trying for a baby and/or are having assisted fertility treatments.
You can visit a number of fertility clinics and leave your CV there, make contact with acupuncturists (for example you could offer them a demo treatment in exchange for referrals) and nutritionists. Fertility is a complex issue and there are various lifestyle factors that you need to look at, from exercise to nutrition, from stress levels to hormone imbalances.
Finally, say your clients are looking to lose weight. That’s an interesting scenario because you can really show your expertise here and build a strong network of contacts that can become your permanent team. You can get to know fitness instructors and nutritionists but also, if there is a past of eating disorders, you should get in touch with counsellors and psychologists who can help the client get the root to their eating patterns.
The message here is: yes, of course you would like to get new clients but think of this in reverse. Be passionate about helping your clients achieve their health goals and the rest will follow.Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net