If asked, most therapists would share that they lean toward the introverted side of the marketing spectrum – tending to prefer marketing methods that don’t require a lot of face-to-face or one to one contact. (I wonder if this is because we spend so much time doing that clinically that we don’t want to invest in marketing that feels like more of the same..?)
In fact, you may have heard me share the story of how I used to attend networking meetings and then put my purse on the chair to the right, and my books and other materials on the chair to the left, so, effectively, I had three chairs to myself, and nobody could get too close. (I don’t do this anymore, by the way – even though I sometimes want to.)
I know that I do better with a plan for directing my marketing activities, so I wanted to share with you a sample networking plan from my book:
Community Marketing: Networking
In order to get more referrals, we must build relationships with existing referral sources and potential referral sources. (Remember you are building relationships rather than asking for referrals.) This is a critical concept. If you try to talk about your business right away, your referral sources will be unlikely to refer business to you.
Here are the tasks we recommend to our therapist-clients:
Initially or Annually:
- Create a list of at least 20 (and up to 90) existing referral sources or potential referral sources. These could be people I know or people I’d like to get to know.
- Get contact information for my list.
- Reach out to between three to five people on my list using a variety of methods: email, phone, handwritten note or card, small gift, or in-person meeting.
- With each interaction, plan to share my compassion, my knowledge, or my network. (See Tim Sanders’ Love is the Killer App book for more on this, as well as the upcoming chapters on marketing.)
- Document who I reached out to, how I did so (what contact method), and, if I like them, put them on my calendar for the next time I wish to reach out. Record any personal information they gave that I can reference later such as an important upcoming event. If I don’t like them, eliminate them from my ongoing “reach-out” list.
Three to five people per day may seem like a lot, but if you do this first thing in the day, and do it without too much overthinking, you will find that you can easily connect with 3-5 people per day.
After a month, you will have reached out to at least 60 people, and after two months, 120.
I like to collect checkmarks on each day I complete my networking activities, and then reward myself with a treat when I reach 10 days in a row. 🙂
While it can take some time to build a strong and active referral network, all big things start from small seeds.