Networking. Psychology. Put the two together and you have 'Networking Psychology'.
Didn't know there was psychology in networking? That's ok, you're not alone! Perhaps that is one of the many reasons therapists find networking a challenging, and even daunting task. But, it doesn't have to be. In the grand scheme of things, the importance of networking in counseling allows you to make the necessary connections with others which could help you develop a pool of professional contacts in the field. It doesn't even matter whether you've been a practicing therapist for years or have just graduated from being a student, it's always a good idea to revise and update your counseling network.
Networking with allied professionals allows you to be able to connect with new professionals (in a similar field or with someone who has a unique specialty). The advantages of professional networking are endless!
So now you’re probably thinking, “Why network with other counselors who are in the same area of expertise? Wouldn't that actually be harmful to my business? After all, I need clients!!”
I hear you. Sometimes it is easy to look at others who are working in the same field that you are in, as your competition. But, when it comes to working in the mental health field, this can actually be an opportunity to see them as a friend and to build a relationship with fellow therapists.
Remember this: other therapists are your FRIEND!
Connect with those who are in the same specialty that you are in so that you can become a referral source for when they are full and cannot take on any new clients. And it doesn’t have to be therapists that are in the same field as you. Connect with others that are not in the same specialty so that you can refer them to you and they can refer you! You may also consider reaching out to other medical offices that may be a good fit for a referral. Get their email address and send them some of your handouts each month to give to their clients. This is a great way to build a relationship with them and in return, possibly get new clients!
Connecting with other successful therapists is a crucial part of networking. Spending time with them face to face will also help you market yourself successfully. Joining a support group can give you the chance to really connect with therapists who are in the same specialty as you, giving you an excellent opportunity to turn to your colleagues for advice on dealing with difficult patients. This will also give you a chance to share your own therapy knowledge and over time, that trust will naturally develop in your regular support group meetings, which will then lead to consistent referrals among members, giving you a steady referral base.
So where do you start networking?
Being a working professional, I am sure you've heard of the amazing online social platform for professionals called LinkedIn. It is also a great way to network with others to grow your social following. Think of it as one of your go-to areas for your therapist referral network (another good one would be utilizing Facebook's wonderful feature of creating Facebook groups for your business). Connect with other therapists or those in the medical field you can partner with to become a reliable referral source. You can give out educational information on LinkedIn to draw in great referral partners.
Another great way to network is to step away from your computer and get out! Yes, put together a mixer or host a public event. Public speaking, workshops, and private consultations are great for networking to showcase your practice and to connect with potential clients, and also with other therapists.
By not factoring local therapists, physicians, professionals, and organizations into your marketing strategy, you are missing out on a wealth of opportunities that could become the basis for many of your referrals. Online marketing is definitely the ruler of the land, but there is no denying the power of personal networking.