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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ask Jenn: Introducing our new advice columnist

Dear readers,

This week we are thrilled to introduce a new regular feature: an advice column. Each month, Reiki Master and intuitive business guide Jenn Givler will answer questions from professional practitioners -- or those who'd like to be. Before she became a coach, Jenn explored numerous aspects of holistic business, including her own private Reiki practice as well as creating, manufacturing, distributing, and marketing her own line of aromatherapy products. Now she focuses on helping other practitioners develop and market their own businesses. I've been a fan of Jenn's for about a year now, and I'm glad to be able to share her enlightening and encouraging advice with all of you.

Next week, Jenn will also launch her weekly
BlogTalkRadio podcast. We'll definitely be clicking in for that.

Without further ado, here's Jenn:

Ask Jenn

By Jenn Givler
Reiki Master and Intuitive Business Guide

Hi everyone!

I am honored and thrilled to be here. Thank you Janet for your support, and for asking me to come and be a part of your wonderful community.

Let me start off by giving you an idea of what my philosophy of business building is. The main way we build our practices is through marketing. And, marketing sometimes has a bad connotation because it’s been used and abused in the past. It only took a few people coming from fear and lack mentality to pull marketing out of its core purpose. The core purpose of marketing is to help the people that need us, find us. And the way we do that is by connecting, building relationships, and nurturing those relationships.

We create marketing materials and marketing strategies that help us do that. So things like advertising, newsletters, web sites, fliers – they are all part of the larger plan and the larger plan is a beautifully developed marketing strategy that puts us in touch with our potential clients and helps us get to know and understand them.

One of the things I love to do in my business is interact with like-minded people. I’m really excited about my involvement here because it gives me yet another way to reach out, connect with, and build relationships with people. So, while as you may have guessed, this community is part of my marketing strategy – more important is the connection I’ll be making with you. And – just as important – I’ll be able to provide help and information that will surely help your practice in a very practical way.

As you can see, over to the left, there is a link where you can submit your practice-building questions to me. Please, feel free to submit your questions – I welcome and encourage it! For each column, I’m going to be choosing 1 or 2 questions to answer.

For this week’s column, I’ve chosen two questions – because although not seemingly related upon first glance, the subjects of both can be woven together nicely.

Dear Jenn,

I'm a new Reiki practitioner, just got my Level 2 certificate, and I'm looking for clients. I admit I don't have much experience, but we all have to start somewhere. Clients naturally tend to prefer practitioners with more experience, so how can I convince them they should come to me instead?



Hi Newbie! I completely relate to how your feeling. I remember being a new practitioner. And I remember wanting so much to get out there – but then feeling so self-conscious about my seeming lack of experience.

First off, I would like to challenge your assumption that clients prefer to go to someone with more experience. The truth of it is the clients that resonate with you, prefer to come to YOU.

From a marketing standpoint, this is one reason we choose a niche (a defined group of people who you want to serve). In this busy world, choosing a niche allows us to speak directly to a certain group of people, rather than shouting generally at “everyone.”

What this means directly to you is that there is a whole group of people out there waiting for you. And they don’t care if you just became a practitioner yesterday. They know that you understand them – their very human, very defined needs.

And when you speak to them through your marketing materials, they’ll make a connection with you and there will be no question in their mind who they should come to.

Now, onto Unpaid Volunteer’s question (and then we’re going to weave them together):

Dear Jenn,

Most of my Reiki practice is volunteering. I enjoy it and find it very rewarding, but I'd like to build on my volunteer work to turn it into a professional practice. It's hard to ask for money when I've been doing it for free, so how do I make the transition? Some people even say it's wrong to charge money for Reiki because the energy is free so how can we ask people to pay for it?


Unpaid Volunteer

Thanks so much for submitting this – it’s an issue I’ve discussed many times. When you first start with Reiki, it’s wise to do it on a voluntary basis. Volunteering gives you experience, and can help build your confidence. And, it can help you work with many different types of people and determine who it is that you might want to identify as your ideal client.

When you are ready to come out of volunteering, and you’ve built up a community of people who have been coming to you for free, there are some things you need to get very clear on.

First, are there people in this community that you will continue to treat for free? You may have included volunteering at the Senior Center, or at a homeless shelter or church in your work. And you may have worked with friends and family as well. Are you going to keep those folks in the “free” category? I imagine you will.

Second, you are going to have to let people know that you are going to start charging. And there may be some people in your volunteer work community that fall into this category. No getting around it, you will have to have a candid conversation with these folks and let them know that you are ready to move into a paid service business, and you’ll begin charging.

Most people understand this evolution. If you give people a transition date, and explain why you are making this move, they are usually understanding.

One thing you can do is to increase your prices incrementally. Let’s say your target rate is $75 per session. You could start out at a lower rate, and gradually increase it until your clients get to the target rate.

As long as you’re up front and honest with your clients, and you have a schedule of when you’ll start charging and what rate you’ll charge, they’ll feel prepared, and they’ll totally be on board.

And the ones who aren’t, you probably don’t want as clients anyway ;)

Let’s talk about the issue of charging for the energy. You are not charging for the energy. You are charging for your time, your training, and your personal energy that goes into creating the Reiki practice itself . We can’t effectively charge for the energy itself – it’s impossible since it can be accessed by anyone attuned to it.

What we are asking for energy exchange for is our time, our training, the overhead that makes it possible to create the space for the practice, and our personal energy. We need to be reciprocated for those things. Without them – the practice wouldn’t exist. And without the reciprocity of the energy exchange, you’ll burn out as a practitioner. You can’t give without being receiving, or before long, you’ll run out of energy and spirit to give.

Ok, now, let’s see how these two beautiful questions fit together to help you build your practice.

1. If you’re brand new, you can begin volunteering to see which clients you most resonate with, and to get some experience under your belt.

2. Set a schedule when your volunteering will end, and the fee structure will begin.

3. You are not charging for the spiritual piece of this work. You are charging for your time, your energy and the created space.

4. No matter what experience you have with your Reiki practice, it all adds up to being in deep service to the people who need you. They will be grateful that you are doing what you’re doing, because you’re the only one that can help them in the way that only you can.

Building a Reiki practice is different than building a “traditional” business. Not only is it something that comes directly from your soul, but you’re providing healing and touching others’ lives in a deep way. It’s not something to take lightly, so I can see why these questions come up for discussion so often.

If you have follow up questions, please feel free to post them here in the comments section. I’ll be checking in regularly and would love to continue the discussion. Thanks for submitting these really important questions, and I look forward to being with you all again next time!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a Reiki III MT since 1997 and found that clients sometimes don't feel something works or is of value unless they pay a lot for it. Coach Purses, for example. I carry $400 purses (and more $ sometimes)...I refuse the knockoffs because it's wrong to support fakes... and I feel confident in the true Coach because I paid a lot for it and it has a lifetime warranty. Worked for attorneys for years. Those clients who paid the $675 hour rate for the top partner in the firm, felt that they were getting the best by paying the most. It's a silly way to look at it, but there are those who drive fancy cars, wear expensive watches, carry expensive purses, all because they feel they get more when they pay more. So, do not hesitate to market yourself at a higher fee level. It's all an exchange of energy. Regardless of the fee you feel like asking, do not forget there will be some who think you must not be the highest value because you are too cheap.

In truth we are light as we are one,
Deonna Bishopp, RMT

6:35 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Deonna - not a silly way to look at it at all! I truly appreciate your added insight here - and totally agree.

There is something energetically that happens when we charge what we are truly worth. It's like a self-acknowledgment that sends reverberations through the Universe that we absolutely believe in what we're doing and have full confidence in ourselves.

And on behalf of the client - for them - they can feel that on an energetic level as well. They can feel how deeply rooted we are in our work, and that WE trust the process and the work - and that just sets them at a deep ease, and a deep knowing for the healing to happen.


11:57 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

This comment is from Pamela Miles:

I think it's great that you are offering business advice through The Reiki Digest. I wonder, however, why you encouraged the Newbie to charge for her services? Isn't it safer all around, and an act of greater integrity, to get some practice experience on ourselves and others before we start charging for services? No matter how clear Newbie's disclosure to clients may be, she is literally learning at their expense. Creating an internship for herself, even one without the supervision of her Reiki master, in which she found people on whom to practice, graduating from friends to friends of friends so she is giving treatment to people she doesn't know, would seem to be an approach with more integrity.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hi Pamela! Excellent advice and so wonderfully written out. This gives a great plan for someone to follow.

In the column above, I do tell Newbie that (s)he can begin to volunteer his or her services before charging. However, if a new practitioner is looking to be paid for services, it's wise to map out a schedule where the volunteering for certain types of clients would come to an end.

Again, I love how you've mapped out a plan here - thank you for the insight!


12:08 PM  

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