Therapists usually have one thing in common…. They hate selling themselves! So it’s no surprise that networking can be intimidating and challenging for most therapists. The reality is that therapists have all the soft skills to be amazing at networking especially in today’s market. The perception is that we have to act like sales people and sell the heck out of ourselves. However that is totally misguided. Imagine someone at a party who fit the description of the stereotypical “pushy salesman”. Someone who spoke about how great they were and spent their time with you just talking about their accomplishments. Chances are you would hate your time with them, rolling your eyes and looking for a polite out. So why do we think that is what we should do to market ourselves? Here are some real, practical tips to networking that actually work and get people to remember you:
Seems simple enough, but it can be hard in new situations. Ultimately you want to present the best version of yourself but still be true to yourself. As a therapist, we help our clients with this all the time. So here’s a simple exercise to help you prepare. What are your best three qualities? Not just as a therapist but your best personal qualities. Focus on demonstrating those positive qualities during a networking event or meeting. That way, you are confident and able to be yourself without selling anything.
This should be simple if you present the real you. Genuine people are going to be better received then someone who is fake or trying to hard. Even if you’re an introvert, try listening first then asking simple questions like, “How can I help you?”. Or being empathetic first, then offering a solution. Before you know it, a new relationship has been made.
Therapists do this every day! The point of networking is not to sell yourself but to create relationships with others that have the same interests as you. So do what you do best and make connections. Find something you can build on and establish rapport. Then from there connect what they are doing with your business or skill set.
Set Yourself Apart
Naturally this is the area most therapists have trouble. But you do not have to set yourself apart by being extroverted. Think of something you do really well and highlight that. Or be laser focused on your niche. From there, think of a way to showcase what sets you apart. One idea that works for even an introvert is creative marketing material. Rather then just passing out a card, create swag or a marketing folder with information about your practice. Think about your audience. If your going to be in a room with professionals, a well made marketing folder will appeal to them. If your at a community event with parents and teens, think fun swag. Tailoring your marketing based on the target audience is a sure fire way to set yourself apart.
Networking does not have to be scary. Therapists can be great marketers because marketers attempt to understand their clients and then appeal to them. Therapists by nature are able to read and understand people in a way most others cannot. By changing our thinking about networking, we can use our professional skills to be successful marketers.
Amanda Be, LMSW, MBA is owner and counselor at Supportive Counseling Services in Grosse Pointe, MI. Amanda has been a practicing clinical social worker since 2005. She is passionate about helping others lead happier, more successful lives through her private practice, advocacy and volunteer work. Amanda’s main objective is to support others during life’s challenges and hopes these blogs will help. She writes and speaks on topics for parents, counselors and educators. For more information, blogs and videos: scs-mi.com.