Consistent, effective, and ongoing local networking is the best way to get known in your community—and the fastest way to grow your practice and keep it full. This is true not only for private practice but for mental health centers, agencies, and any type of program, center or service whether public or private.
What is local networking and how does it work?
Local networking is raising awareness in your local communityabout what you do, who you work with, and the services you offer. It involves getting the word out on a consistent basis to those in the community around you—online, in person or in print—about who you are, the services you offer, and how you help people.
The key to successful local networking is regularly contacting and connecting with everyone in your local community--those you know or have met--and keeping them up-to-date with you and what’s going on in your practice/career/business/project.
Everyone in your local community? Yes, everyone. Relatives, friends, neighbors; your kid’s teacher, childcare person, dogwalker, plumber, gardener, housekeeper, mechanic, contractor, Uber/Lyft driver; social, business, and community contacts; nurses, doctors, lawyers, financial advisor; colleagues and other professionals; those attending church or temple as well as the minister, pastor, rabbi, deacon, cantor, choral director, and others; people you worked with previously or were in graduate school with or at a placement—and don’t forget your former professors and supervisors. The list is endless.
Each one of these people is a potential referral source for your practice. Find a way to regularly keep in contact with them and to keep them current on you and your practice. Building your contact list, e-mail list, referral sources, and resource list is a long-term project. Start today!
Getting the word out about what you do and the services you offer to the community also involves meeting new people and making new friends as you increase your practice’s visibility and grow your network.
Who you know, those who know you, and those who refer to you are valuable resources for filling your practice with clients who need your services and will pay your fees.
Think about it this way, when people know about your practice, and are familiar with your services, they can find you or refer to you when a therapist with your skills and abilities is needed.
This type of local networking is viewed as a community service, so make sure your community knows how you can be of service to them. The more people, businesses, organizations, and professionals in your community who know about the work you do the faster your caseload will fill and stay full.
Local networking can take a variety of forms. In person, online, radio, tv, digital or print advertising, talks, blogs, podcasts, videos, any type of social media, online forum or ??? It’s up to you to decide what works best for you, your practice, client market, available time, and budget. Take your pick. You get to choose. Try things out, then see what works best for you. Remember to keep things brief and upbeat.
Local networking also means becoming familiar with your community and how your potential clients move through it via churches, schools, sports programs and teams, athletic and country clubs, theater arts, colleges, yoga centers, hospitals, libraries, parks and recreation, employee assistance programs, and many others.
Understanding the needs of potential therapy clients in your area and how those needs are being or not being met makes practice building easier.
Since therapists are an important part of every community, it’s important that we be visible so that our clients can find us when they need our services. The therapists I know who have a full enough practice with a consistent influx of clients are those who are known in, and know, their communities and keep up regular contact.
Local networking also includes getting known in your professional community. Joining and attending your professional organization is a great way to get connected with other professionals in your area and to develop and maintain relationships and friendships as well as referral sources for your network.
Through monthly networking events, workshops, member events, newsletter articles, classified advertising, and e-blasts, special interest groups, support groups, and special events, Professional organizations provide many volunteer and networking opportunities for therapists and related professionals to get known in the community and develop themselves and their relationships.
As you can see, filling your practice with the clients you’re meant to work with requires that you find a way to connect with your community and let them know, on a regular basis, that your practice exists, what services you offer—and how people can go about contacting you when they desire your services.
This success formula for attracting new clients, filling your schedule, and earning enough income, consists of raising awareness about your private practice in your community.
So, go ahead, announce your presence to the world and raise community awareness about your practice. Keep me posted! I look forward to hearing about your success.
Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT, AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is in private practice in Santa Monica where she works with Couples and Gifted, Talented, and Creative Adults across the lifespan. Lynne’s been doing business and clinical coaching with mental health professionals for more than 15 years, helping them develop even more successful careers and practices. To learn more about her in-person and online services, workshops or monthly no-cost Online Networking & Practice Development Lunch visit www.Gifted-Adults.com or www.LAPracticeDevelopment.com.
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Lynne Azpeitia, LMFT
For 10+ years Lynne Azpeitia has helped therapists to live richer and happier lives through her workshops, private practice and career coaching, and her practice consultation groups which train, support, and coach licensed therapists, interns & students how to create and maintain a successful, thriving clinical practice and a profitable career