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The Power of Networking with Your Local Medical Community

Looking over the shoulder of a male at a smiling male doctor wearing stethoscope

Networking is an important part of business for many professionals, but physical therapists and massage therapists often assume they only need to focus on meeting potential clients. This couldn’t be further from the truth and one reason why many of these small businesses fail. Building a network of health centres, doctors, nurses, holistic healers and other healthcare providers in your area, as well as general community involvement may be the key to getting a steady stream of new clients without much effort on your part. 


Facebook post from Lizz Pugh asking what types of medical professionals do other massage therapists network with successfully?


Massage Therapy as Part of a Vital Range of Medical Services

As a physical or massage therapist and being a small business, you know that there are many benefits to the service you provide. From helping chronic pain patients avoid reliance on potentially addictive medication to providing a relaxing service for those who’ve recently suffered a traumatic injury, your work is important and it’s usually connected to other healthcare services, hospitals and other health centres. You’re part of a medical community and you can use that to your advantage. Medical professionals, personal trainers, natural health practitioners and others in the healthcare field are all potential sources of new client referrals.


Facebook post from Susan M Hylton about working with a personal chef to find clients


Before you start trying to get your foot in the door with your local health care providers, though, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary credentials in place. Otherwise, a licensed physician or another high-level health care professional may not be able to use you as a referral even if they wanted to. Your practice may need to be focused on evidence-based modalities rather than simple spa-style relaxation. If you are licensed to practise physical therapy or massage therapy where you live and you have experience treating specific medical conditions, you’re in a great position to benefit from medical community networking.


Facebook post from Gloria Hoch Prater about specialising in prenatal massage and networking with medical professionals


Meeting Other Healthcare Professionals

So, how do you network with other healthcare professionals? There are a few routes you can take, and you should use the ones that make the most sense for you and your massage therapy business. One of the easiest ways to meet healthcare professionals is to operate your practice from a medical building in your community. You can also try to get a job working as a provider in a medical clinic. This way, you can naturally develop relationships with the practitioners who work nearby and get to know how they work so you can find out how to relate to them on a professional level. 


Facebook post from Kathy Hensley about getting referrals to her massage therapy business from a mental health counsellor


These organic networking opportunities may not always present themselves, though, so you may need to take more initiative. The next easiest step is to make friends with healthcare providers in your community and start hosting social gatherings for other people in the healthcare field. Meetups, happy hours and networking events are all great opportunities to meet people with a specific interest. If you don’t know of anything like this happening in your community, you can make it happen yourself.  

Planning successful meetups usually requires some social media skills, but you don’t need to be a Twitter master to get attention. Social networking sites such as that focus on networking with like-minded people are an easy way to get events going. You can also start a Facebook group for your community and you can even make it private so the group is invite-only. 

This gets at an important fact: networking doesn’t all have to be in person. Digital networking is important too, but you’ll want to make sure that the doctors at hospitals and other healthcare providers you’re talking to online are actually in your area so they can refer clients to you. Try following local medical professionals on social media and commenting on their posts to get a rapport going. Make sure your own online presence is in good shape so your identity will be clear. Simply striking up an online friendship can sometimes be enough to make healthcare providers think of you when it’s time to refer clients for massage or physical therapy. 


Staying Ready to Get Referrals

Networking isn’t always easy. While working as a massage therapist does require a certain degree of people skills, it doesn’t mean you’re jumping at the chance to approach strangers and promote your business. If the idea of networking gives you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, don’t worry. Very few people actually enjoy getting out there and networking. But you don’t have to enjoy networking to do a good job. Use these simple tips to make networking easier and more effective:
  • Always keep plenty of business cards and other physical promotional materials on hand. If you happen to meet a doctor or personal trainer at a party, for example, you can give them a small stack of cards to pass out to clients who need massage therapy services. 
  • Networking can be passive. Don’t miss out on other opportunities to hand out your marketing materials like community corkboards at local shops are also potential areas of growth. Never miss the chance to leave a card or leaflet for a potential future client to pick up.
  • Don’t be shy about discussing what you do for a living. You don’t have to get too specific, but if you have a certain philosophy or approach that you think is relevant for certain types of injuries or conditions, mention that when you talk about what you do. 
  • Stay up to date on continuing education and the latest research relating to your educational background. Striking up a conversation with a doctor, nurse or physical therapist gives you the opportunity to show off your impressive range of knowledge, which may be all it takes to convince a healthcare provider that you’re a good referral for their patients. 
  • Consider offering a referral discount for patients of a particular provider. This may be against official ethical rules where you live, so check to make sure this is allowed before going this route.
  • Say thank you and stay in touch when you get a referral from a specific healthcare provider. You may want to leave a space on your client intake forms so your new massage therapy patients can tell you if they were referred to you by a specific doctor or other healthcare provider. If you do get a referral, send that doctor or nurse a quick email or even a thank-you note in the mail to express your gratitude. You don’t need to overdo it, but make it clear that you appreciate the referral and you may get even more.

How do you use networking with medical professionals to grow your massage therapy business? Let us know in our Facebook thread

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