Some people may consider networking to be a necessary evil in the professional world. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Occasionally opportunities to network will find us. Its important to take advantage when those scenarios occur. I unexpectedly did so much networking in one day which will hopefully lead to the growth of my practice in the future. I want to share that day with you to show how minor decisions can affect potential networking opportunities.
I RSVP’d to attend a morning coffee event from 8 AM – 9:30 AM with local mental health providers in the area. But I woke up late due to completing a fantasy football draft at 2 AM. I heavily debated about attending the event. However I decided to go since it was close to where I lived and would help me meet other clinicians in the area. I live in a small Georgia town between Savannah and Jacksonville. A large number of clinicians have started or joined private practices within the past year. I figured now would be a good time to have another attempt at networking with others locally.
I arrived at the event around 8:30 and I was the first person there (besides the two hostesses). I continued to be the only attendee when the event concluded. The event was still a success. I knew one hostess and introduced myself to the other. Both worked for long-term treatment facilities. We all felt tired and took turns explaining what caused us to have a lack of sleep. I shared my fantasy football story which led to a great conversation. We discussed a lot of topics outside of mental health. Eventually we got to the topic of Continuing Education Units (CEU’s).
Continuing Education Units
I received my LPC last month and cancelled my reservation for a CEU event since I did not need any for the current renewal period. They congratulated me on my achievement. Not thinking I mentioned how I like doing presentations and pondered the idea of providing my own CEU presentation(s). I was immediately offered a sponsorship to provide a training for their joint luncheon in January. I accepted and the three of us explored potential topics for me to present on. As a member of Next Level Practice, I was asked very familiar questions about my niche(s). We settled on a topic and I will start working on the presentation soon. I hurried back home to prepare for a networking call.
The call was with a company that provides services related to mental health. We discussed our backgrounds and work history. I was proposed with potential ways I could collaborate with the company. I took initiative and mentioned my desire to conduct workshops and provide presentations for them if they were interested. My contact was very receptive to the idea. We agreed to maintain consistent contact as we worked towards collaborating in the future. That call felt great and empowered me. I held on to those feelings as I rushed to begin my sessions.
My first session arrived on time. My noon appointment was a no show. I was standing outside and a woman approached me asking for directions. I helped the best I could. I’ve lived here slightly over a year. She inquired about my work and asked for business cards. I gave her some before heading back to my office. A man approached me shortly afterwards. He inquired about the location of a non-profit which recently relocated to my building. I escorted him to his desired location. An employee from the non-profit asked if I was a counselor and also requested some business cards and brochures. I started walking back to my office and saw an unfamiliar sign. It displayed the name and credentials of a counselor. I recently heard another LPC started working in my building. As I approached her office I noticed a “do not disturb” sign. I wrote a welcome note and placed it on her door. We crossed paths later on that afternoon when we were both leaving for the day. That was another great initial conversation.
Overall it was a great day. I networked with a lot of people and helped create opportunities for myself. I didn’t attend the coffee event with the intention of getting clients, being sponsored to conduct a workshop, or presenting/training on behalf of a company. However, that is what occurred. It happened because I shared some of my goals/additional interests and others were open to collaboration. Networking is critical to your practice’s success. Keep that in mind as you navigate each day. I’m not saying you should network with everyone you meet and pass out business cards like you’re dealing from a deck of cards. I’m suggesting you take advantage of opportunities and let your goals be known. You never know what people are looking for.
Michael Gilliard was born and raised in Charleston, SC. He a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) in Georgia. He is in the final stages of planning his private practice named Ujima Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting. It is based off the Kwanzaa principle of Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) which means “to build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems, our problems and to solve them together.” He can be reached via LinkedIn.