This is part of an episodic series, The Therapist’s Networking Guide.
To see the previous one in this series, click here.
Your network is your lifeline. These are the people that know you best. These are the ones that can vouch for you and sing your praises! They are the people who will refer clients to you. And, they are the ones that you can most influence. . . . Are you helping your network take really good care of you? Here are some things that I do . . . .
- Stay in touch. Have you heard the old saying, “Out of site, out of mind”? It’s definitely true when you are wanting referrals. You can send them a note, pick up the phone and call, or make a visit to their businesses. Find reasons and creative ways to stay in their thoughts. Research shows that when office managers make a referral, they typical refer to the last name that they ran across — a business card, a newsletter, a person, etc. Remember, “Last name in, first name out.”
- Pay attention. When someone in my network receives recognition, I congratulate them. If they’ve written a new book, I make an effort to read it. And, if they are looking stressed or a little worn out, I try to offer a little support — offer to cover their on call duty for the weekend or just let them vent. If there is a death in their family, I offer condolences and make sure I send a card. Don’t ignore your network’s challenges and triumphs.
- Be generous. Your time, talents, and resources are no more or less valuable than your networks’ time, talents, and resources so share them liberally! By doing so, you will build good will, great friends, and a better world.
- Make referrals. Make sure that your network knows that you have their personal and professional best interests at heart by making appropriate referrals to their businesses. You don’t want to develop a reputation for always wanting referrals and never reciprocating.
- Say “thank you.” I do not do business with professionals who fail to say “thank you” and you shouldn’t either. Gratitude is an attitude that is cultivated and I pride myself on cultivating many ways to say it. I write notes, send cards, bake baskets of cookies, send flowers, give small token gifts, and write public articles of gratitude. It costs me very little to tip my hat to those that have been kind to me / my business and I make a point to not forget.
- Be transparent. Transparency is not about wearing your feelings on your sleeve. However, being transparent is about being committed to the truth and honesty. It’s really about your level of integrity. If you are nervous about working with a new client that has been referred to you because you haven’t worked with their presenting issues before, don’t fake it. Let your referral source and your client know that you will be seeking consultation while working with them or refer them to a different therapist. Don’t pretend that you know it all. Your clients and your referral sources will appreciate you being willing to admit your limitations. And, in doing so, you give them permission to do the same.
- Ask for what you need. Your network thrives when the relationships in it are reciprocal rather than lopsided. In order for a network to work for you, you need to be willing to ask for what you need. I have, at different times, asked my network for help securing office space, community resources for my clients, and to be a sounding board for a new project, etc. If you can’t ask for what you need, then you need a new network!
So, what is it that you are doing to help your network take better care of you? And, what is it that you can commit to doing better?
The next post in this episodic series is