Build your Network
“I know there is strength in the differences between us.
I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”
~ Ani DiFranco
Your network is going to consist of colleagues and community members (people in different industries) and will probably require different strategies to connect with each.
When building your network, always consider this question: Do their values match my own?
Even if someone has a lot of influence in their industry (or yours), if they are not in alignment with your beliefs and values, it won’t be an organic fit.
Remember it’s about building genuine connections.
A handful of true advocates are worth more than a bunch of people talking about you, if they don’t represent you and your brand in a way you can be proud of. Below are some examples of ways you can build your network, but there are many different ways you can build your reputation.
Consider your clients, consider your strengths and use your imagination.
LinkedIn.com – It’s a great way to connect to others in the field or in your community and open the lines of communication. It is a non-threatening way to approach people that could potentially lead to deeper connections and face-to-face contact.
Teach – Be useful to others. If you have an area where you have particular knowledge, teach what you know to your colleagues. It allows you to give back to the professional community while becoming known in the industry.
Get involved with local or national associations – Go to annual general meetings or volunteer on committees.
Take professional development courses – While learning, take time to meet the people in the course. See if there are any ways you can help each other in building your practices.
Letters of introduction – Send letters or emails to colleagues in the area and let them know about the work you do and who you work with. Busy therapists are always looking for good people to refer clients to. As mentioned before – make the letter personal.
Informational Interviews – Call up or email another therapist and ask if you can talk to them for 10-15min about their practice so you can send them clients that maybe aren’t a good fit for you but may be a fit for them. If you feel a connection with the work you both do, nurture the relationship.
Networking groups – There are many groups devoted to bringing professionals together around common interests and industries. If you search for groups on www.Meetup.com, there will probably be many in your area. Additionally, investigate with your local Chamber of Commerce to see if there are any events in your area.
LinkedIn – Again a wonderful way to connect with other professionals outside of your industry.
Teach – If you share a common clientele, organize a talk or workshop that could help them in working with their clients.
Partner with / volunteer with organizations who connect with your clients – Getting involved with organizations that already connect with your clients is a way to build your reach and give back to the community.
Hit the pavement – A personal favourite of mine. If there is a group of professionals that are already working with your clients, you want them to know your name. This could be going into Dr’s offices and dropping off flyers and introducing yourself and your services to those who work there.
Letters of Introduction – A bit more of an arm’s length approach but can sometimes be useful as well. Create a letter to introduce you and your practice and send to professionals in the area. Even if you get one client referral, it will have paid for itself.