How do you plan on growing your business? Do you believe in the power of networking or do you think it comes across as pushy? Do you believe that it is possible for you to gain clients by networking but you’re just not sure where to start or how to do it?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Theresa Leskowat on networking that is not slimy.
Next Level Practice is an industry-changing project to help counselors to start a private practice. Unlike many programs that are time-limited, or just an e-course, this brand new approach offers live and recorded trainings, small group accountability, and feedback.
Meet Theresa Leskowat
Theresa is the founder of Clear Vista Counseling in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is passionate about helping women rebuild their lives after divorce.
Theresa’s website is https://www.clearvistacounseling.com/
Find out more about Theresa here:
Theresa Leskowat’s Story
- Licensed Professional Counselor
- Certified Clinical Trauma Professional
- Nationally Certified in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Over seven years experience in counseling
- Currently participating in trauma sensitive Yoga Teacher Training
In This Podcast
In this episode, Joe speaks to Theresa about how she transitioned from doing independent contracting to getting her PLLC and to now running her own private practice.
Some of the Few Things Theresa did over the First Few Months to Get Clients:
- Listening to podcasts, one in particular: Networking with 90 people in 90 days
- Networking with as many people as she could
- Set up a website
How Networking can Bring in Clients
- By networking with other therapists, if they have potential clients who aren’t a good fit, they will refer to you
- Referrals via social media in Facebook groups
- Foster relationships with people who could refer business by word of mouth because they socialize within your ‘ideal client’ circle
Theresa Plans to Grow Her Business by:
I am working on networking and blogging, and these two things have been producing results for me.
- Blogging and creating content that is specific to her clients
- SEO and figuring out how to link within her website
Theresa is part of the Next Level Practice community and has found value in being able to seek guidance and advice from people who have been there and done that.
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
Thanks For Listening!
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NETWORKING THAT IS NOT SLIMY
WITH THERESA LESKOWAT
This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok – Session Number 311.
INTRODUCTION[JOE] I’m sorry, Session 311. You can’t start with a little 311. I kind of like that band back in high school. Alright, let’s kick this off.
Today on the Practice of the Practice podcast. We have Theresa Leskowat. She’s the founder of Clear Vista Counselling in Charlotte, North Carolina. She’s passionate about helping women rebuild their lives after divorce. Theresa, how are you doing today?
[THERESA] Good. How are you?
[JOE] I’m doing great. So, you’re on vacation right now and you’re taking time out to be on the podcast. First, thanks so much for interrupting your vacation.
[THERESA] Absolutely. Yes. I love Practice of the Practice.
[JOE] Well, thanks. And, you are hanging out in Asheville for your vacation.
[THERESA] I am. And, right now. I’m actually setting outside at the Sierra Nevada. After this, I’m going to grab a beer.
[JOE] Oh, my gosh. Well, I wish I could have one with you because that Sierra Nevada is so awesome. They’re kind of like a backyard. It’s like a whole… It’s insane. It’s so big and awesome.
[THERESA] Yeah, it’s beautiful here.
[JOE] Yeah, I was down there with Allison Puryear and Jane Carter for Brew Your Practice, an event that was down there. And, I just love the area so much.
[THERESA] I went to the first day and it was great, Brew Your Practice. Fantastic.
[JOE] Yeah, yeah. So, you’re down there. Let’s talk a little bit about your practice. When did you start your practice?
STARTING HER PRACTICE[THERESA] So, my PLLC came through like the end of February so I’m still new. And then, I’ve been full-time private practice for 3 or 4 weeks so I’m super new.
[JOE] Woah. So, you just got your PLLC a couple of months ago. Now, you’re like full-EN. Take us through the prep process before you got your PLLC like what were you considering last year or early this year?
[THERESA] Oh, geez. Well, I was doing independent contracting and the person that I was working with like “Hey, you should get PLLC.” She was like super supportive. She was the one that turned me on to the Practice of the Practice and even the Brew Your Practice. So, I was like, “Okay.” So, I just kind of started looking at it one thing while doing another. And now, I was fully on my own. It’s been a huge learning curve.
[JOE] Wow. So, the person you’re contracting with helped you launch your practice. That’s pretty awesome. I mean a lot of people would have this sort of like competition side, but she was the one that kind of said, “No. Go do this.”
[THERESA] Yeah, absolutely.
[JOE] Okay. So, take us from when you get your LLC. What were some of the beginning things that you did with the first few months to get clients?
GETTING CLIENTS[THERESA] Yeah, so, I listened to your one your podcast. Allison, she talked about networking with 90 people in 90 days.
[JOE] …which is insane.
[THERESA] Insane. And, it blew my mind. Because previously, my goal was to network with like 3 people for the first quarter. And so, I quickly changed my goals when I started networking like crazy. You know, previously, I think I thought networking was like this sleazy thing of trying to get clients. I realized that’s not really bad at all. And, the reality is I actually love making relationships and so I love networking. I’ve made so many great friends. I’ve drunk a lot of coffee. So, my coffee intake is super high right now and a lot of lunches as well. Yeah, so, it’s tons of networking and then building my site, putting some time and effort into that as well.
[JOE] I want to get to the site, but you talked about the transition right there where you felt like networking was kind of slimy. And then, it totally wasn’t. I feel that’s such a common mindset especially for people that are just starting out. Talk a little bit about that that’s switched your mindset. Was there like one cup of coffee with someone that you were like, “Oh, my gosh. This is so easy.” Like, how did that happen?
[THERESA] They were all super easy like these I realized pretty quickly. These people that I was networking with weren’t people that I would easily be friends with. And, oh, I remember one networking lunch or coffee. She asked me amazing questions that I would never have thought of for networking. And, I just had this instant connection with her but in that, I knew that she was a great therapist. And so, I’m like “Okay, this is what networking is about.” It’s connecting with people and getting to know people. And, when they know you, they know that you are a good provider as well.
[JOE] Now, do you remember any of these questions she asked you? If you don’t that’s totally fine.
[THERESA] No, I don’t. But, it was funny because they were very super personal questions that I would have never thought that I would ask somebody. Those are questions that have literally no asked me ever before. I’m like, “Oh wow. How inciteful she was so early on to have just met me.”
[JOE] Yeah. And, most of your networking with other therapists or did you network with other people too?
NETWORKING[THERESA] Yeah. So, I have networked mostly with other therapists and when happened is those therapists would connect me with other people. So, one of the therapists linked me. She was friends with a lawyer that her office is down the street from my office. And so, I got linked to that lawyer. And so, that’s been helpful to do it that way because lawyers, I feel like they’re more responsive when you have that personal connection of, “Hey, you’re a great person to talk to.”
[JOE] Yeah. I think that’s happened a lot with my podcast. You’ll find a really awesome kind of big fish. I’ll say, Hey, are there any people you know that might be good guests on the podcast too.” And, they’ll always give me a couple of great referrals. I think that just ask of saying, “Hey, is there anyone else that you know that you can connect me with that knows about helping women that are going through a divorce?” You know, attorneys are a pretty good connection, I would imagine.
[THERESA] Absolutely. Yeah, they love connecting you with other people. And so, that’s been a huge resource.
[JOE] So, then, you said, you started working on your site. What did that look like?
[THERESA] I went with Squarespace. My husband’s like a big NPR listener and he always talks about Squarespace. He was like, “Here’s Squarespace.”
[JOE] So, the advertising worked there.
[THERESA] Yes, absolutely. And, it was really intuitive. That was good. And then, I was also a part of Next Level Practice with you. And, one of the things that were really helpful there too is I put a bunch of work into it, but I was still really ashamed. Like, I wasn’t proud of it at all. But, we had a Q&A and you actually looked at the site and gave me some feedback on one of our Q&A meetings. The feedback was fantastic and so I made all the changes that you suggested. And then, I felt like, “Okay. I can now spread this site around and tell people about my site without being ashamed when they look at it.
[JOE] Well, yeah. What are some of the things that you changed from that discussion?
WEBSITE IMPROVEMENT[THERESA] One of the big ones was in the headers, my phone numbers are there. I heard you say it before but for whatever reason, I hadn’t done it. But, if you are looking at my site, you’re like, “Put it right here.” Like, yes. Of course. It was such a simple, simple change. And then, under the Services tab. I have different tabs for the different services that I provide. And so, I felt bad out. And, one of the other things that I took out like 2 different pages because I realized this isn’t talking to my ideal client. It’s talking about me. And the reality is this isn’t about me. It’s about them.
[JOE] Yeah, that’s such a shift for people oftentimes that clients on there are thinking, “Is this person a good fit for me?” Even on the About page, you know, just say, “I love working with women that are going through a divorce in challenging times.” So, you’re still connecting with that person. Then, you can go into your schooling in your background. But, with you start with like, “I graduated with honors…” I’m not saying you did this. Not that you’re an honor student. I’m kidding. I’m totally joking.
When people start “I graduated with honors. I got this. I went into this school.”, that doesn’t connect it with all of the people. And so, when you do connect with just talking about so few counselors do that, it really makes you stand out if people are reviewing a bunch of therapy websites does.
[THERESA] As funny as it is, it wasn’t just 2 weeks ago, I was talking to you, Joe. And, I was like, “Here’s what I’m doing. Am I wasting my time? Am I spending my wills?” And you’re like, “No, no. Just keep at it.” At that time, I had like… this is I think 2 weeks ago, I had zero clients. And, I ended up having 3 intakes last week. I’m on vacation now but on Monday I have 2 intakes. And then, I have an intake already scheduled for Monday.
[JOE] So, six clients.
[JOE] I’m so glad you kept with it.
[THERESA] And, so the networking is a big part of it. These therapists, we support each other. This isn’t a competition. It’s supporting each other that if they have people that are looking for, you know, whether it’s friends or other clients that aren’t in a good fit for them, then they’ve provided my name. That has been really helpful. And then, my website plus my Psychology Today has gotten me a few of those referrals as well.
[JOE] Well, I think that’s one thing that people don’t think about with regards to networking that even if you’re working with someone that may not refer from their client load or you’re talking to an attorney that maybe doesn’t do divorce attorney. Maybe they do something else. They still have friends, you know. And, people that are an attorney are usually friends with people that are at a similar affluence because the social things they do take a certain amount of affluence whether that’s golf thing or sailing or paddle boarding or whatever.
Usually, people have similar friends economically. And so, if you’re trying to attract a certain client, thinking about well, who are the people that might be friends with that person? Maybe, as an attorney, they don’t refer to you. But, as someone’s friend they might.
[THERESA] Absolutely. Yes. I’ve learned too on Facebook some of these therapists. They’re a part of like Mom groups or whatever. And so, they were a part of some group and someone was looking for a therapist and one of the therapists that I’ve networked with through my name out there. Another therapist who I never in less than a month as well. I added information about how great I was, and I got 3 phone calls.
[JOE] That is awesome.
[THERESA] It’s like everyone was talking about it. It was people that maybe didn’t even comment on my original post. They had seen it. And so, the power of social media and networking and just getting your name out there, letting people know, “Hey, I have a service that might be helpful to you.” It’s not that I’m trying to sell or be sleazy. Know legitimately I have something to offer. If that’s a benefit to you, great. If not, then, that’s fine too.
[JOE] Well, it’s like… I remember I listened to a podcast. Maybe that was Pat Flynn who interviewed this lady from Instagram about green smoothie thing. And, I thought you know, I want to be able to help you. Start following their posts. And then, we got a Vitamix blender. But, we bought it because people talked about how well it blends. You get these chunks of Kale and stuff. For me, they aren’t a sponsor of the podcast but this Vitamix blender blows my mind. I’m just psyched.
[THERESA] I think this is amazing.
[JOE] It’s amazing! By talking about that product on the podcast, it genuinely improved my life because now, every morning, I had a green smoothie. I feel like I have the energy before I jumped into my coffee. I feel like I’m doing a little bit for my help even if I don’t go for a run every day and it’s because they just mentioned a product that was helpful to them. And, I feel like when it’s done with that posture versus fill me up, fill me up verses I want to help women who are going through really tough time and make that divorce a little bit easier for them. People are going to resonate with that more.
[JOE] So, what are things that maybe as you look forward because you’re still at the start phase of the practice? What’s going to get you to the growth phase? So, to get to that $50,000 or $60,000 a year, what are you going to bust out in the next 6 months?
THE NEXT 6 MONTHS[THERESA] Right now, I’m working on blogging. I’m blogging out a little way. I have some blogs I might page but I want to get more blogs going that are specific to my clients and figuring out SEO because right now, my website ranking is very terrible. I want to work on that and improve that.
[JOE] But, you’re looking at it, so you have a benchmark. That’s awesome.
[THERESA] Absolutely. Yeah. And so, you know, linking both within my website in and out and learning all the ins and outs of that, I’m not super tech savvy. But, again I learned a lot for the last few months and I now continue to learn a bunch.
[JOE] Actually, just today, I had a meeting with Sam, she’s my Chief Marketing person. And, she did the first edit of, you might have heard how it’s doing, it’s 12-part series all about blogging just for Next Level Practice. And, I got to see the first video of it. So, I was recording this video in my living room and my 3-year-old was like trying to be quiet. And then, I have to stop the mic and go back to the other room. But then, she edited all these awesome graphics and did screenshares. I’m so excited for this thing to come out for Next Level Practice. And so, that’s going to help you just amp up whatever you’re already doing.
[THERESA] Yes. I’m looking forward to that.
[JOE] So, what do you think in regard to Next Level Practice, what content would you want us to create in the coming months that would best support you during this phase?
[THERESA] Oh, that’s a good question because blogging was like a big one on there. I’m not sure if you are going to cover this in the blogging as well like image and SEO trying to figure that piece out as well. As well as figuring out what ways to network with people that aren’t just therapists because I have some, but I think to develop that a little bit further as well. And, I think one of the things that I love about Next Level Practice is a lot of times, I don’t know what the next step is, but you were always providing that next step for me.
[THERESA] There are days that I’ll be like “I don’t know what I need to work on today!” And so, I’ll go on Teachable where we have all the webinars. I’ll watch a webinar and then I’ll do whatever it is you told me to do. And, it always seems to work in the effective. And so, I trust the process.
[JOE] Well, I think that when you’re trying to learn from someone, whether it’s me or any other consultant, oftentimes, I think the danger is you listened to all the podcast in all the different Facebook groups. Then, you get all these competing information like, “Oh, I should work on a website. Oh, I should blog. Oh, I should do this.” It’s certainly like just pick a lane and stick with that consultant firm then see the results. If the results don’t show themselves, then jump around. Because when I first started my website Practice of the Practice, I remember I was listening to Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas and Chris Docker and a bunch of other ones. You know, they have one person that came out and said, “You need to prioritize being on Twitter.” So, I’d get on Twitter and I would start tweeting. I hate this. It’s stupid. And then, someone else said, “No. You need to be doing this.” You just don’t have a flow you get in. Whereas, if you can get in a flow with somebody that you trust. I feel like you can just move forward so much faster.
[THERESA] I totally agree. I was trying to do the same thing. Like, “Oh, I need a Facebook Page.” I have the Facebook thing and I need this and this. And then, finally, I think you said like, “Pick a couple ones and stick to it.” I’m like, “Oh good.” That has helped my grit a lot. No, I’m not working on having an active Facebook Page right now but that’s okay. I’m working on networking and blogging. Those two things have been producing results form me so I’m going to stick with it for now.
[JOE] I think that’s the value of having a community like Next Level Practice where you can say, “Here’s where I’m at “whether or not that’s on one of the Q&A sessions with me or Allison and soon Kasey. Or, you can just ask on the Facebook group. “Here’s where I’m at. What should I do next?” It saves you so much time that you end up wasting if you don’t have the kind of guidance with people. And also, just being in the small groups with people too and just bounce it off with your peers. So, when you think about Next Level Practice, people are wondering if this is right people Who would you say should consider joining Next Level Practice?
WHO SHOULD JOIN NEXT LEVEL PRACTICE?[THERESA] You know, I think it’s a wide variety. If you haven’t done any of that original… because you have to build this foundation when I was talking about my PLLC. I’m figuring out what my electronic health records I’m going to use and all these things. I think Next Level Practice is helpful for that because everyone’s been there done that a little bit and not too far ahead of you. So, we all kind of have, “Oh, you tried this, and I liked it.” Or, what phone system am I going to use? So, I think that’s really helpful. But, even if in that next phase where you’re starting to grow a little bit more and how do I get my name out there? How do I network and market and not feel sleazy about it? That’d be a really good fit for them as well.
[JOE] Yeah, yeah. And, for you, what’s the return of investment than in regard to what you’ve got out of it whether in time savings or in kind of money being grown in your practice?
[THERESA] It has been exponential. The main reason I originally signed up is not the reason I stay in it now if that makes sense. So, previously, it was like, “Oh, I’m going to get a logo.” Or, “What are these free extra things I’m going to get that would make it worthwhile?” They were guaranteed to get my investment back.
But, honestly, the bigger value has been on being a part of this group, I can go on there at any time and ask a question on Facebook. I get quality answers and input. We also have these small groups and those people are brilliant as well. So, we brainstorm together. As well as those Q&As, you used to it on Facebook Live. But, you moved to Zoom and in Zoom, I felt I added so much more value because we’re able to do this back and forth. Whereas, it’s almost like a one-on-one consulting that you get. Right after we did that one where you looked at my website, I was like, “Woah, I got the value. I’m at least a few months out.” …to have your feedback on that because you know, you’re someone I highly respect. And so, to get that feedback from you was really helpful.
[JOE] I think that’s where… I hear you say that. And, I think that one wasn’t even a Q&A that was specific around websites, but a lot of people have website questions. I almost feel like it’d be good to say that this Q&A is going to be specifically around websites. This Q&A is going to be specifically around networking. That may then help people be even more focused and have some general ones also for wherever people are at. But, I think, I noticed this whether it’s with Slowdown School or in my masterminds or this.
It’s like when you get the right people together. A lot of very organic things happen. So, if we get people that are all at the start phase and are starting to move into that growth phase, you get the right people together, it’s almost like it takes less facilitation on my side because you guys can support each other so well. And, you’re all on that same phase. Even now, we’re seeing people start to level up in Next Level Practice that are starting group practices. We’re, then, creating more content as people move slowly into that growth phase way before I expected. I thought it’s going to take most people at least 6 months to want to add clinicians. So, now, we may even start pulling people out of there small groups and put them into one that’s leveled up a little bit. It’s just fun to be able to say, “What are the needs of this community? And how do we keep making sure we’re creating content, giving support, and giving that value around the phase that everybody is at?”
[THERESA] And I think when I had all this course going into it, now, I feel like I know a little bit more where these questions I come across Facebook. Oh, I can answer that. I know that like “What EHR do you use, and do I like it?” or phone system or any of those of kind of really basic questions. And so, in a weird way, that helps my confidence build as well. Like, “Oh, I do know a little bit.”
[JOE] Yeah, and it’s amazing how… I mean that whole thing that at least I learned in grad school if you don’t know what you don’t know. And then, you don’t know what you know. You don’t know what you know and then finally you know what you know. And then shift, it kind of sneaks up on you where all of sudden you’re consulting with local people. How the heck did you have such a beautiful website? How are you blogging and networking? And you’re like, “Maybe I should have a consulting business now.”
[THERESA] Yeah. It’s cool. And, I feel like I get to give back a little bit because it’s given me so much that the community has.
[JOE] Awesome. Well, Theresa, if every counselor, private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[THERESA] I would want them to know that letting people know what services you provided, that’s not a sale-sy thing to do. It’s just a good thing to do like we went into this to give back in our world and make our communities a better place. So, why not let people know what value you have to offer?
[JOE] I love it. If people want to check out this awesome website that you just updated, what’s the best way for them to check it out?
[THERESA] No pressure.
[JOE] No pressure! You only had over 100,000 people last month listening to this podcast so…
[THERESA] It’s clearvistacounseling.com.
[JOE] Well, thanks so much for being in the Practice of the Practice podcast and thanks for being in the Next Level Practice community.
[THERESA] Thank you so much, Joe.
[JOE] So, if any of you are listeners are interested in joining Next Leve Practice, we are launching cohorts every month or two. We’re doing smaller cohorts of 50 to 100 so that you can place into a small group that’s exactly right for you. So, if you’re just starting a practice like Theresa did earlier this year and you want to continue to rock it out, you want to get that guidance to speed up your process, we would love for you to join us. Or, if you’re just starting to add clinicians, we’re creating even more content around that as well. So, really, if you’re under around $40,000 a year, Next Level Practice is the best use of your time and money. You get an amazing return of investment just like Theresa got. Head on over the practiceofthepractice.com/invite to request your invite. You can read more about it there. You got video walkthroughs so that you can see what it’s like behind the scenes and you can rock out private practice just like Theresa. [Special thanks to the band Silent is Sexy for that intro music. And, this podcast is designed to provide accurate and intuitive information in regard to the subject matter covered. It’s given to the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinic, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.]