An image of someone working on their laptop and visiting Facebook

This morning when I sat down at my desk, coffee in hand, the first thing that I did was open up Facebook. It’s the first thing I do every morning.

This isn’t a confession that I’m slacking off on the job—quite the opposite, in fact!

As Communications Coordinator, it’s my job to promote the School, share what’s happening on campus, and answer questions from clients and prospective (and current) students. And one of the ways I do this is by using social media.

Hence the morning Facebook-and-coffee ritual each morning. I log in to Facebook and navigate to the MH Vicars School business page (resisting the temptation to check my own notifications…usually!) and see how the online community has been interacting with the School.

An image of someone working on their laptop and visiting Facebook

I check the messaging inbox—recent messages have included questions about class schedules, job postings, and continuing education – and reply to comments. I also go behind the scenes to check out the analytic data on recent posts—information that’s available on business pages but not personal profiles. This allows me to learn about what our Facebook community likes, so I can create even more relevant and enjoyable content for them in the future.

I check back in with Facebook—and our Instagram account—once or twice during the day. I’ll write new posts and either publish them immediately or schedule them for later. I try to post at least once a day for the school, being careful not to spam peoples’ timelines or neglect my other responsibilities.

Relatively speaking, it’s a small part of my job. But it’s an incredibly important one. These days, it’s vital for businesses to have a social media presence. And though massage therapy is an offline profession, it’s no exception.

As an RMT, you are your own business, and your own brand. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee of another clinic, or run your own practice, or even if you’re a student just starting to build a network of potential clients. No matter your practice, your customers are online. They expect you to have a responsive web presence, and social media is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective ways to meet that need.

Your daily social media doesn’t need to look like mine, but if you want to grow your client base, manage your personal brand, and communicate with your clients, you should really be on social media.

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a wide range of tools specifically for businesses. They allow you to separate your personal and professional identities online, communicate with your clients, and build your ideal audience. But these tools can be complex, they aren’t always intuitive, and they’re regularly being updated. I’ve been using Facebook for business for years, and every few months I make a point to check out what new features are available.

If you don’t already have a Facebook business page, now’s the time. But you don’t have to learn how to do it alone. To learn how to set up your page, or make sure that you’re using it to the best potential, I recommend you attend the one-day social media marketing course we’re holding at the end of the month:


Building Your Massage Business
(Level I): Using Social Media to Build Your Brand

When: November 25, 2017
Where: Edmonton Campus

Sign Up


A group of MH Vicars students sitting around the coffee table, discussing lessons.

As an RMT, you’ve chosen to dedicate your career to helping and connecting with others. So, networking should come as second nature. But too many massage therapists write off the idea entirely without realizing its value. Maybe the term brings to mind images of midlevel executives in uncomfortable suits exchanging superficial pleasantries along with their business cards. Maybe it just doesn’t seem necessary for someone who’s self-employed, or has a full client list.

If that’s been your attitude towards networking, it’s time to think again! Networking is an essential tool for RMTs at all stages of their careers. Authentic, meaningful networking isn’t about impressing your peers, or keeping up appearances. It’s about making connections and building communities.

Don’t believe me yet? Keep reading for our top 6 benefits of networking.

#1: Keep up with trends and innovations in the industry

A group of MH Vicars students sitting around the coffee table, discussing lessons.How do you stay on top of the latest massage news? If the answer is that you chat with your clients and fellow RMTs, then congratulations: you’re networking already!

While massage as a healing discipline is thousands of years old, as a modern career it’s experiencing rapid growth and change. From developments in regulation and school accreditation, to innovative treatments and modalities, there’s always something new to learn. By cultivating connections with other therapists and health professionals, you can keep up with all the latest news in this dynamic field.

#2: Make important referral contacts

Maybe you’re so busy that you have to turn potential clients away. Maybe you want to be able to recommend someone you trust when you have to refer your clients to another practitioner. In either case, it’s very helpful to know the therapists and health professionals in your area. Your clients trust you with their health when they’re on your table, and you owe it to them to be knowledgeable about their treatment options beyond your clinic walls.
And of course, making this type of connection pays off in both directions. Wellness professionals like physiotherapists, coaches, and chiropractors are often called upon to recommend massage to their clients and patients. By getting to know them, you’ll both benefit – and so will your clients.

#3: Get motivated

No matter how much you love your job – and we hope you adore it! – it’s still work. It’s natural for your drive and enthusiasm to ebb and flow.

One sure-fire way to jumpstart your passion for the career is to meet with fellow RMTs and talk about the job! Sharing ideas, tips, funny stories, and lessons learned can remind you why you chose this career in the first place, and will leave you re-energized about your practice.

#4: It’s an opportunity to find or become a mentor

I wouldn’t be where I am today – with a fulfilling job that I love – without the help and advice of a lot of different people, and I expect the same is true for you. Interestingly, I didn’t connect with the people whom I consider my most important mentors and teachers through formal mentorship programs. Rather, they’ve been bosses, professors, senior colleagues, and even friends who simply took the time to share their thoughts and experiences with me. It may have been a small thing to them, but it has been precious to me. I hope that someday, I can play a similar role in someone else’s life.

And these casual, organic mentor relationships are just as important for RMTs as they are for writers like me. By connecting with the rest of the massage community, you can meet people to learn from, and people to teach. Because we’re never too old to do either!

#5: Look for a new job, or find new employees

If I were writing this for another school’s blog, I would probably have put this one at the top of the list. It’s the most obvious benefit of formal networking. But if your clinic is fully booked, or you happily work for yourself, it might be the benefit you’re most likely to discount. If you’re not actively looking to switch jobs or hire anyone, cultivating employment contacts might be pretty low on your to-do list. And fair enough!

But this is an important strategy for students and new graduates, and those of you who are still building their practice. And even if you’re comfortable where you are right now: the right time to have this kind of connection is before you need it.

#6: Socialize and have fun!

This one isn’t an afterthought, I promise! Massage therapists are good people (and I’d know!). All the RMTs that I know are in this business because they care about others, and want to have a positive influence on the world. And who wouldn’t want to hang out with people like that?

When it comes down to it, “networking” is just connecting with other RMTs and wellness professionals. It’s spending time with people, be they old classmates or new friends, with whom you have a lot in common—and helping your career at the same time. What could be better?

Can you think of any benefits to networking that I’ve missed? What have been your best networking experiences so far? Please share them in the comments!

Networking Night Feb 2017 ad with sparklers, and special guest speaker Geha Gonthier

 

Please join us for an evening of networking, education, and inspiration!
It’s a chance to connect with other Vicars students and alumni, share stories and advice, and hear a special talk by local clinic owner and multi-disciplinary therapist Geha Gonthier.

This free event is open to everyone: MH Vicars alumni and students, other RMTs, and other healthcare professionals. All guests must reserve a ticket in advance.

We’ll supply the refreshments and great door prizes (including a $500 bursary for MH Vicars continuing education courses!)-all you need to bring is your passion for massage therapy! And maybe a stack of business cards…

 

February 22
6-9pm
Edmonton Campus (2828 Calgary Trail NW)

Guest Speaker

Geha Gonthier,  B.A., LMT, ERYT, R.Ac.

Geha has been studying and practicing various healing disciplines 35 years, beginning with a degree in movement therapy from the College of Performing Arts in Vienna. In 1980, she studied Shiatsu and Oriental Diagnosis with Wataru Ohashi in New York. This marked the beginning of a deep love affair with eastern philosophy, mysticism, and medicine. Since then, she has studied medical massage at the Swedish Institute of New York, cranio sacral therapy with David Little, nutrition, aromatherapy and different bodywork modalities.

I’m so excited, I have to share!

On Thursday evening, we hosted an Open House at the Edmonton campus. We do this about 10 times a year in both Edmonton and Calgary. We invite a few students to do chair massage for the guests who attend (they get credit toward their clinic hours as well as the chance to practice their chair massage skills). In Edmonton, I give a presentation with information about the enrollment process, student funding, clinics and what a day in the classroom is like; in Calgary, Sarah does the talking. We also provide plenty of yummy snacks.

Open Houses are always fun, but Thursday’s felt particularly special and I was inspired to write about it.

First of all, it was packed! The Open Houses have grown exponentially this year! About two years ago, we decided to revamp how we did Open Houses, and made them a more important part of our application and registration process. Back then, we might have 2 or 3 people attend each time. Last night, we had 22! It was like a party that began at 5pm with people arriving early, touring the school, having chair massages and snacks. They chatted comfortably with each other and with the wonderful therapists. We had four chair massage therapists—three of whom were recent graduates! This means that they volunteered their time as they no longer need clinic hour credit. They just came to help out. It very moving for me to be supported so graciously. Mystique, Ollie, Erica, Kelly: thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart.

It means a lot to people who are thinking about taking such a big step in their life to have others, who are in the middle of that process themselves, talk about their experience.  I’ve overheard our students telling Open House guests things like: “This is the best decision I’ve ever made!”, “I can’t believe how much I’ve learned!”, “If I can do it, you can too!”.

Not only does this fill me with joy and pride, it’s exactly what prospective students need to hear. It is inspiring and encouraging. Actually, the word encouragement is a good one here. It means, “to give someone support, confidence, or hope.” This is my dream for the school: that we become a community, a village, a family. We are striving to be a hub for the education and promotion of health and wellness. Our students and grads are our voice!

It takes a special type of person to succeed at MH Vicars School. Our students are positive, dedicated, creative, curious, funny, and kind. The alumni and students who joined us on Thursday night embody these qualities. I know that all of the guests who spoke to them, and were lucky enough to get a massage from them, were as impressed as I am every day when I see our students on campus.

Our guests left the Open House excited and inspired. I hope that they will choose our School, and become wonderful members of the MH Vicars community, just like Thursday’s volunteers.

Interested in MH Vicars? Experience the magic of an MH Vicars School Open House for yourself!

Click here to Attend an Open House! 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two weeks since the Class of 2016 gathered together to celebrate their graduation!

At the Edmonton event, Denise shared a wonderful story. We all found it incredibly moving, and wanted to share it with everyone.

Graduation Message from Denise Currie, MH Vicars School Executive DirectorGraduation Message from Denise Currie
MH Vicars School Executive Director
June 11, 2016

“Recently, my parents came to Edmonton and stayed with me for a few days. My mom and I love to walk and since I am living in a new area, it was a way to show her around.

Our conversation flowed companionably and we took our time. She let me lead the way since it was my neighborhood and I was respectful that she is in her 80s. We walked up through the trees to Rabbit Hill and down to the walking path along the ravine. We had beautiful and interesting vistas before us and we were enjoying ourselves.

Finally, I turned us toward the last section of the big circle I was making to take us back to my house. We walked down a lane between houses which ended ahead of us with a high solid fence that stretched out to the right and left. We walked straight toward it. As we drew closer my mom started peering at the fence with a look of concern. Then she looked at me. She could see I was unconcerned. She looked at the fence and back to me a few more times.

Unable to resist she said, “I hope we’re not supposed to climb over that fence.” (Something she wouldn’t put past me!).

I said, “Nope! We’re going to walk right through it.”

“Oh,” she said, thinking, “Great, probably some yoga thing.”

I confidently kept up the same pace we had established, while she started to lag behind, uncertainty in every step.

See, I knew this fence. I’d been here dozens of times, but I remembered the first time I came to it. Then, I had also thought, “Hmmm, am I going to have to climb over that somehow?”

But this is a unique fence; it’s an optical illusion, and a good one. You can’t tell until you get right up to it that there is a panel in front of an opening. The first time I discovered it, I was a little disappointed because I was excited about the idea of climbing over it. As it turned out, there was no need.

I knew my mom was about to have a similar realization. At this moment, from where she stood in relation to the fence, she was absolutely sure there was no way through it. But, in a few moments, she would see very clearly that there was a way through. This was something she could not see until she was right upon it.

One moment the fence was an obstacle; the next, it was a path.

The path didn’t open up until we got right up to it. Until we needed it. Until it was time to take it. If that first time I came toward this fence I assumed I was right about what I saw, I would have turned around and gone another way. I would have looked for an easier path or an obvious one; the one everyone else takes. If I had been concerned about having to climb the fence and possibly looking stupid – I would have turned away.

But I was curious, so I kept walking.

The fence didn’t change, it continued to be what it always was. Rather, my perspective changed and then I saw it for what it is.

You are about to experience a shift in your perspective. A big one! But it’s not your first one. The first one was probably half way through the first day of class. You had arrived that morning frazzled, but frisky, ready to take on this new world. It hadn’t occurred to you there would be so many obstacles: no more free-time, being a beginner, feeling like you don’t know anything and you forgot how to learn, so many rules to follow, and the part where you had to take your clothes off and suffer someone’s nervous hands on you.

It was a drunken zig-zag, a bumpy path— but you were curious, so you kept walking.

And there were those leading you who had been here many times and they knew there was a way through and you trusted them. And the path opened up to you.

And month after month you approached new fences and sometimes the only way was to climb it, and it made you stronger. And the day came that you barely knew yourself. Who is this person walking through fences, through all kinds of resistance, finding a path for yourself, not taking the easy way, not turning from seeming obstacles?

You have changed your perspective again and again as you have given birth to new aspects of yourself, new abilities and gifts you’d never needed before. You have new eyes to see the world.

You have walked through your last fence with us. In the days ahead you will miss the fences. But there will be new ones. Remember what you’ve learned:

That it often takes a change in perspective to see things as they are, so be patient.

Trust that the path will be there when it’s time to take it. There is no rush.

Be curious, and it will take you somewhere new.

Trust yourself, you are strong, capable and expandable: you’ve proven it.

Congratulations again, and good luck.”

We got a very exciting letter in the mail today! Our first exclusive continuing education course has been approved for continuing education credits by the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta!

When you take Building Your Business (Level 1)—Using Social Media to Build Your Brand at the Calgary campus this July, you will earn 4 Secondary Credits from MTAA. 

For many years, we have partnered with qualified instructors and organizations to offer continuing education at our Edmonton and Calgary locations. But this course is the first time we’ve developed homegrown exclusive continuing education classes! It’s in Calgary first, and will be repeated in Edmonton later this year.

This workshop will teach you  how to create and execute a communications strategy that meets your needs. Using a practical, hands-on approach, you’ll learn how to use traditional communication avenues and social media to promote yourself and your practice.
The course will cover the importance of a good social media strategy and demonstrate actionable steps you can take to develop a sustainable, measurable and scalable social media marketing plan tailored to your own needs and goals. Ultimately, this will help you create more awareness, relationships and leads for your brand and business.
You will go through social-media exercises and real-world case
studies, putting what you’ve learned into practice throughout the day.
The key topics that we’ll cover include:
  • How to build a voice and values around your brand-Be a Brand Ambassador!
  • The right channels for you-which social media channels should you use?
  • How to craft and grow your online “ecosystem” to build your network & business
  • The balance of a good content strategy, listening, and engagement tactics
  • Setting goals and measuring your social media growth
During the workshop, you’ll set up your own Facebook Business Page (or perfect the one you already have)!
This course is specifically designed for massage therapists, and will offer techniques and advice for both sole practitioners and those working in multi-therapist environments.
In order to fully participate in this workshop, we request that you bring a laptop or tablet.
Cost: For MH Vicars students and graduates: $195 (+gst)
For general public: $245 (+gst)

Building Your Massage Business (Level I):
Using Social Media to Build Your Brand

June 18 2016, Calgary Campus

Register Now!

Christmas is a week away, and Hanukkah’s already begun… have you and your family completed your shopping?

If you – or someone who’ll be shopping for you – need some last-minute gift inspiration, look no further. The Vicars School elves have put together a list of gifts for massage therapists (and massage therapy students). 

Check out our suggestions, and then tell us what we’ve missed in the comments!

 

  • New sheets (is there any better gift than not having to do laundry as often?)

  • Washable massage table-sized blanket (we use fleece ones at the School)

  • Table warmer with washable cover

  • Thermophore – a bit more of an investment than some of the items on this list, but trust us, “yule” love it

  • New scrubs. Who says washable can’t be fashionable?

  • Empty lotion bottles – the perfect stocking stuffer

  • Essential oils such as lavender and Japanese mint

  • Foot massage lotion

  • Wheat/rice bags

  • Gel packs for cold hydrotherapy

  • Eye pillows

  • Small towels

  • Body bolster set

  • Trigger point chart

  • “Anatomy Trains” by Thomas Myers, a fascinating book on the role of fascia for bodyworkers

  • “Atlas of Human Anatomy” by Frank Netter. The world’s most popular anatomy atlas.

  • Stability ball, theraband, yoga mat, tennis balls, and other remedial exercise staples

Some of this is available from specialty stores like Massage Essentials, the Massage Therapy Supply Outlet, and Tension Prevention. Others can be found at sports stores, and of course online.

Can you think of anything we’ve missed? What’s on your massage wish list? Let us know in the comments.