Are you just starting your private practice and are not sure how to get more referrals? You’ve got your website set up and are wondering why you aren’t getting more inquiry calls or emails? Or maybe you just moved to a new area. And you are wondering how to get started with networking and aren’t sure how to go about it. Well, this blog is intended for you if you’re in either situation.
The Key is Just Starting to Network
The easiest place to start is by reaching out to other clinicians you know. Invite them if they’re willing or interested in meeting for coffee sometime in the near future. Especially if you’re too shy to call them, a simple email is adequate to invite them to join you. I used to call other therapists and invite them to coffee. But I’ve gotten away from this more and more in favor of emails instead. It gives them the chance to respond at a time when they’re ready to do this. If you have other therapists as contacts on Linkedin, you can invite them to network through this platform as well. Email also offers the luxury of tailoring your email in just the way you like to hopefully get a response.
What If They Don’t Want to Meet?
This was initially a downer for me. I wouldn’t get a reply or a callback, or if I did, this just wasn’t something they were open to. The key is to not take it personally. And realize that some other clinicians aren’t into this or just aren’t responsive. It may sound trite, but it is about them and not about you. The key is finding others to reach out to and invite to meet you someplace so you can learn about them, and they about you.
What in the Heck Am I Supposed to Talk About?
So let’s say you do get a reply and the other therapist or clinician agrees to meet. Certainly, you take some business cards and if you already know them or something about them, you can start off by talking about that. Before you meet, I’ve heard from networking guru Allison Puryear that it can also be good to picture your ideal client before meeting them in order to increase your motivation and positive attitude so you’re more likely to make a good impression. She also suggested doing a ‘90 in 90’ of networking with 90 other clinicians in 90 days that you may or may not want to try. It also helps if they ask you about your practice niche so you’ll have a clearer idea of what that is. I haven’t tried this personally, but I have rehearsed my ‘elevator talk’ when they ask me what my practice niche is. If you don’t have one, I highly suggest you work on finding this.
How to Find Others to Network With
If you don’t know someone in your area to network with, start by googling other therapists in your zip code. Or look some up on Psychology Today. And if you want clients who are private pay, it may be a good idea to network with other therapists who are private pay. If you take insurance, then you can network with those who take insurance or those who don’t.
Making a marketing calendar can help to keep you on track with networking by reminding you to contact a certain number of other clinicians each week. This way you keep networking on your radar, so to speak, so you don’t neglect this important activity. Also, it can be very helpful to find doctors, psychiatrists, and other health professionals to network with as well to keep you from being limited to other therapists. Some local business organizations provide means to network with as well, such as some small business groups in your area. If you have trouble getting responses from doctors, you can just be sure to get releases of information from the clients you do see to correspond with their doctors. Sending them thank you notes for any referrals they do send your way, as Stacey Brown Randall shared in one of her recent interviews with Joe Sanok. The more active you are in seeking referrals early on, the more momentum you will have to keep it going and make it a mainstay of your professional practice!
Scott Kampschaefer, LCSW is a private practice therapist in Austin, Texas. He has an extensive background in working with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder at a clinic for older adults with these disorders in Austin. He now works with adults and adolescents of all ages in private practice.