I love being around people
I’ve known that since I was a kid. My mom recently recounted the story where she brought me to an annual retreat at her school. She worked as a principal at a private school and figured she should show up for events once in a while, even though they were not her thing. I was so adored by her colleagues that they wanted me to go back again the next year, even though my mom couldn’t be there. Seeing that nobody could really be responsible for my safety, my parents said no. I was seven at the time.
Fast forward many years and that curiosity about and desire to be around people has never left me. I’ve since learned, however, that I’m more of an introvert rather than an extrovert. Nonetheless, building quality relationships matter a lot to me.
Earlier this year, I met “Michelle” at an Acceptance Commitment Therapy reading group. She is a fellow clinician, practicing near me, and said that I looked familiar. Though we have never met, we both realized she had referred someone to me just a few weeks prior. This would have possibly been my very first client in Private Practice, had I not referred the client to someone else due to misfit. “Michelle” and I exchanged some words at the group and we’ve since gone on to discuss our book reading.
A couple of months later, I hit the lowest week since starting my Private Practice. I had ONE client scheduled that whole week and I remember crying and telling my husband how discouraged I felt. That Friday, I got an email from “Michelle” saying that she’d like to discuss possible referrals. In our phone call, that same day, she told me that she was planning to move out-of-state and would like to refer some of her clients to me, as well as let her referral sources know about me. “You seem to know what you’re doing” was a rough paraphrase of what she had said. Quite honestly, I don’t remember much of that conversation as I was so excited!
I found myself saying, “Well, thank you for thinking of me!” when what I really wanted to say was, “Can I buy you a lobster dinner?!” We then went on to briefly discuss a case and plan to be in touch at a later conference. We hung up and I couldn’t believe my ears. Who is Ada Pang that this clinician I hardly know should think of me, of all people, as she’s transitioning? Well, it had something to do with the fact that our offices were somewhat close to each other and I had room in my practice as someone starting out. But still…
Now this story does not have a good ending for me, but that’s okay. “Michelle” left me a message days before the conference saying that plans had changed and she wouldn’t be moving after all. I was understandably bummed and felt disappointed for the rest of the evening. I did, however, recover and was grateful for her staying in town so I could continue to learn from her. We met at the conference and talked about starting a new reading group together on our side of town.
Network to Serve
When I go to any networking event, I don’t plan to get clients. Rather, I am curious about what others are doing and I want to learn from them. If I get a referral from them, awesome. If I don’t, hopefully I’ve made an impression and I can be a resource in the future.
Networking is about creating a web of people around the work that we all do. While no one will ever guarantee a partial caseload from meeting a colleague one time, you also never know where these connections will go.
Ada Pang is a LMFT and the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She helps distressed couples and breast cancer patients. When she’s not meeting with clients, she loves working on her business and expanding her reach to help more hurting people. She has short-term goals of filling her Practice with ideal clients and supervisees, mid-term goal of adding contractors to her Practice, and long-term goal of helping physicians reduce burnout.