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Monday, 10 June 2019

Successful networking for therapists

Networking is something business owners in all types of work are advised to do, but it can be vital for therapists, who largely work on their own and don’t get the benefits of being around colleagues as often as most. It’s not just talking about work or sharing work experiences we miss out on, it’s the five minutes downtime here and there – what is sometimes called ‘water cooler chatting’.

It’s not usually appropriate to chat about our families or last night’s ‘Strictly’ results with clients, so we need to get that elsewhere.

Why are water cooler chats important?

  • They provide short breaks to help control stress levels and encourage creativity
  • Personal interaction helps you work smarter - studies show people are 10% more productive when they interact socially at work
  • It avoids you feeling isolated because you are in touch with others who share your experiences
Facebook and LinkedIn groups are great, and there are some good ones out there. But for many people, face to face communications are better. There are two kinds of networking we can do as therapists:
  • meeting other therapists to build up a network for support and referrals
  • meeting people in other lines of work to get contacts for business services we might need, and to introduce ourselves to potential clients
So, given that networking is going to cost you time and money, how do you make the most of it?


Prepare in advance:

  1. Decide why you are attending a particular event – is it to meet other therapists or to promote your services to people in other walks of life?  It’s hard to do both at once, so if that’s not clear, maybe you need to rethink your approach or look for another event.
      
  2. Check the dress code with the organiser. In my experience, most therapy networks are fine with smart/casual, but some networking meetings are quite formal.
      
  3. Always carry plenty of business cards. It’s much quicker and easier than entering information about one person at a time on your phone whilst chatting. Consider adding a QR code (like the one shown) to your own business card, which can simply be scanned into other people’s smartphones.
      
  4. Introducing yourself in an interesting way is vital to sticking in people’s minds. Have a good elevator speech that will let people know what you do in 30 seconds or less. Focus on who you like to work with and what you get out of that rather than your qualifications or what type of therapies you offer. You might need two – one for meeting other therapists and one for meeting potential clients - since what you can offer will vary depending on your audience.
      
  5. Volunteer. Most networking events – of both kinds – have speakers or events, at least from time to time. If you don’t know anyone, having a specific role at the meeting can help you get chatting and offering to speak helps get you and your ideas in front of other members.
      
  6. Try to attend a new group as a guest before signing up for a long-term membership. Make sure it will meet your needs and expectations, and that you get along with the other members.
      
  7. Check what’s going to be expected from you as a group member before you join. Sometimes you just turn up as and when you can. Sometimes there is a regular attendance requirement, or you’re expected to bring in new members or referrals. If there are expectations, can you realistically meet them?
      

Attending a Networking Event:

  1. Avoid the hard sell. You may have joined up to find new clients, but you should aim to share information about yourself and your business rather than subject people to a sales pitch. Listen to what they need in their lives or business and respond to that where you can help.
      
  2. Going with a friend can be handy. You can talk their services up and they can do the same for you, with neither of you appearing boastful or salesy.
      
  3. People are flattered if you remember them. Collect other people’s business cards, and write a quick note on the back of each one of something you have learned about that person. You can read through these before you go to the next meeting.
      

Following Up After a Networking Event:

  1. 1.  Use the contacts you made. Check through the notes you made on the back of business cards and see if there is any action you need to take. Send a leaflet on stress management or a link to your blog on a topic you spoke about. If someone seemed interested in learning more, offer to take them out for a coffee.
      
  2.  2.  Memories are short. Send out your information and coffee invitations as soon as possible after the meeting, while it’s still relevant.
      
  3. Connect in other ways. Offer to link with people you’ve met via social media.
      
  4. Reflective practice works for networking as well as for clients. After each event, think about what worked for you and what you want to do differently next time. Write it down and read through before the next event.

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Author: is an experienced hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy trainer. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook, both of which are available from Amazon.
Find out more about Debbie's services on
Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training - multi-accredited hypnotherapy practitioner training, taster days and foundation levels.
CPD Expert - accredited CPD and other therapy training (online and workshops options), expert and qualified hypnotherapy supervision

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