Practice Building: Professional Networking

By Cheryl Whitman
Practice Building: Professional Networking
Networking is a low-budget, high-impact way to grow your practice. It is one of the most effective practice-building tools available, because it creates personal bonds that lead to trusted referrals. To be successful, networking efforts must be targeted toward building reciprocal relationships. It is all about how you can help others, as well as how others can help you.

Social networking, through sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, has become essential to aesthetic business growth and practice success. However, nothing can replace the impact of positive, face-to-face human interactions. Following are some strategies you can use to identify valuable networking opportunities and build rapport and trust with new contacts.

Connecting with Other Healthcare Professionals
Physician-to-patient referrals rank among the most effective referrals. Hence, the best places to start your networking efforts include professional societies and events where you will meet individuals who work in your field and share common interests and knowledge.

Focus first on nurturing your relationships with professionals who currently refer patients to you, then expand your network by meeting and attracting other healthcare professionals into your referral network. These may include general practitioners, OB-GYNs, podiatrists and other dermatologists and plastic surgeons in your area.

In addition to professional associations, hospital fund-raising events and corporate health fairs are effective avenues to meet other healthcare professionals.

Create what is known in the trade as an “elevator pitch”—a brief introduction to you and your practice. In less than 30 seconds, your pitch must make your listener want to learn more about you. Find ways to differentiate yourself from others in your field. Give specifics about what you do. If you are in a niche market with special skills and talents, mention that. Be memorable.

Because your elevator pitch is your door opener, practice it on staff, family members or friends and keep working on it until you feel comfortable.

When reaching out to physicians in your area, start with phone calls or professional-to-professional handwritten notes, and follow up by email. Build toward asking for a face-to-face meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop that is convenient for the other party.

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