The heart and soul of growing a therapy practice centers around the ability to do effective local networking. However, a lot of therapists do too much “hard labor” with little results.

If you experience local networking as very stressful, it’s probably a signal that your efforts are unnatural in some way and need to change.

Here are 13 Steps to Getting New Clients with Effective Local Networking Techniques:

  1. Start with every single person you know. Talk to your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, practitioners you see, and anyone else in your social orbit. Tell them what you’re doing and to check out your website. So many people overlook this very natural way of interacting with people. 
  2. When you’re talking to people you already know about your practice, ask them if they know anyone else that might be a good person to talk to. Have them send an email introducing you. Introductions go a lot further than reaching out on your own to people you don’t know. 
  3. Ease into every relationship that’s new. Whether you’ve been introduced by someone else or it’s a completely new person, pace yourself. First, send a very short introduction email that doesn’t take very much time to read. Literally four to five sentences. Second, increase the contact by asking them more about who they are, what they do, and share similar information about yourself. Only ask for an in person meeting once you’ve established some level of connection or you will waste a lot of efforts and burn bridges by going too fast. 
  4. Qualify new leads that you don’t know. It’s one thing to reach out to everyone that you do know by telling them what you’re up to. But for people that you don’t know you need to make sure they actually have clients to send you and that there is a likelihood they will send them your way. This involves researching their specialities, how long have they been in practice, how close to they are to your location, etc. 
  5. When meeting in person with other professionals dress in a way the shows how much you care about yourself, your practice and this profession. People often underdress in these meetings. It can easily have a negative impact. 
  6. Come prepared with excellent marketing material. Nowadays, you can get a beautiful brochure designed for you for under $40 and can print them for even less than that. Although print media matters less and less to prospective clients, it will matter to new referral sources since they rely on print media when talking about your services to prospective clients. 
  7. Make as many new friends as possible. You’re wasting a lot of time and energy if you go out and do a ton of networking, but you’re not making friends in the process. The fastest practices grow through friendships. You don’t have to hang out often with the people you’re networking with, but the more you can establish a sense of friendship the more clients they will entrust to you. 
  8. You’ve probably heard how important it is to niche when growing a practice. That’s not entirely true. If you want clients quickly in your local networking efforts, focus on niches that are in high demand. Niches alone won’t help you stand out in your community. A high demand niche will. 
  9. Don’t forget to give talks. You probably know this already, but a talk can put you in front of 5 to 50 people in one hour. That can take months of individual meetings and emails to accomplish. Effective local networking means you’re efficient with your time. If you like talks, do as many as you can. 
  10. Referrals are usually nonlinear. Many times the clients are coming to you in a nonlinear fashion. You may have done a bunch of meetings with people, but none of your new clients report coming from your direct networking efforts. Don’t be discouraged. Referrals are often nonlinear in this way. The more you put yourself out there, the more you will get referrals. Plain and simple. 
  11. Consistency is the key in local networking to consistent results. It’s easy to slip into a fast out-of-the-gate mentality and then puttering out. This type of inconsistency allows people in your community to easily forget who you are. If you do a few small tasks everyday in your community, you stay on people’s minds in the long run. 
  12. Always carry a business card. Even though they matter less and less, you never know when you will need one. Don’t only give out cards when someone asks for them. Give out business cards whenever the opportunity presents itself. 
  13. Be kind and grateful as much as you can with others in your network. The more you experience true gratitude for the community around you that’s supporting your work, the more your community will be grateful for you and your service.

Local networking is one of the fastest ways to new clients. However, if you’re not efficient you will feel stressed and get little to no results. Local networking done well will result in a consistent influx of new clients and a growing network of friendships in your community.

The more natural you can make this process, the more likely you’re going to achieve the results you want.

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Keith Kurlander

Keith Kurlander is the founder of Higher Practice, a company dedicated to helping therapists achieve their highest potential in private practice. He has two decades of combined experience in business administration, group facilitation, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate level, yoga instruction and as a licensed professional counselor in private practice.

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