If you’re a therapist, there’s a good chance you are. I mean, studying psychology, counseling, and therapy basically requires an obsession with all the messy internal stuff. Who finds all of that fascinating? We introverts do!
So when it’s time for us to grow our practice, we are often uncomfortable with the social aspects: networking, creating partnerships, running events and speaking can feel downright daunting.
In fact, these things may feel like they goes against your very nature. And who wants to do that? No one… unless they can be done authentically, in a way that feels aligned with your values and infused with integrity. And, as a fellow introvert I’m here to tell you: when you find the right partners, the community you create is the golden ticket to the growth you’re looking for.
So, how can we create a powerful, fun-loving network that will turbocharge our growth?
You have a choice: you can view your field – and your place in it – as competitive or collaborative. And obviously, I have an opinion on which one is better!
If you take a competitive approach, then you will see other therapists as people who might take away your clients. Sharing what you know or hearing about what your “competition” has learned is threatening.
Most people respond to each other through the process of social matching, which means if that’s the signal you send out, that’s the response you’ll get back. Your prophecy will be, inevitably, self-fulfilled.
Basically: You treat the world competitively, the world responds in kind.
If you switch up your lens and view your professional life as a socially collaborative one, your options will rapidly expand. As you share what you know, refer out to the best therapist for the client, and find opportunities to work together with others, they will do the same for you… social matching at it’s finest!
Not only that, you’ll enjoy your work a TON more. Cultivating a powerful network takes some effort, but it’s going to be SO worth it. (And don’t worry, I got your back).
Think of it as joining a club full of nerds just like you. (Am I projecting my own nerdiness onto you? Maybe.) You get the benefits of other people’s knowledge and experience and you can share yours with people who are just as fascinated by the details and nuances of your profession as you are.
But wait! There’s more …
In a big market like New York City, there are a whole lot of people whose insurance won’t cover the work you do with them. So if you try to scoop up all the clients with the widest possible net, you’re going to find that net pretty empty. If people think their problems can be solved by a generalist, they’ll go through their insurance company – or just read a self-help book.
Either way, they’re not digging into their personal pockets for a service they think is generic.
Instead of being a generalist, you need to be a “top of the pile” expert. That means you won’t be “sort of right” for a huge group of people. Instead – and here comes the good part – you’ll be JUST RIGHT for the ones you can really help. So how does a professional community help with that?
In a professional community, you’re part of a pool of people who can all help each other do their best work by referring people to the therapist who’s right for them. Giving and getting referrals expands everybody’s network.
When you send clients to other amazing therapists, even if you don’t always get that referral back, you’re MORE of an expert. Why? Because you’re not the kind of person who would steer someone wrong just to get a leg up on somebody else. That creates trust–both with the client and with the therapist to whom you are referring.
Also, that strong network of yours frees you from taking jobs you won’t do as well. If you can say, “That’s not my specialty, but I know someone who’s an expert,” then you’re not only helping two people – the client and the therapist – you really are helping yourself.
This all comes down to the difference between a mindset rooted in scarcity (where you have to compete for a small number of customers) to one rooted in abundance. There is work for everyone, whether you’re in a city of ten million, or a town of thirty thousand.
Collaborate, don’t compete, and everybody wins.
Here’s the other thing about having a professional community: it’s not just a big group of therapists. It’s an ecosystem.
Lots of other business owners already understand this. My plumber knows a good window guy. My babysitter knows a pet sitter. And my electrician knows when something is outside her area of expertise, so she recommends someone else she knows is really good.
Like those professionals, you mustconnect with your own channel partners – other people who want to get your ideal client in a room, too, because they also have something to offer them.
Are you a marriage counselor? You can connect with lawyers who do prenups. Do you counsel young women transitioning into the workforce? Lots of people want their attention: clothing manufacturers, resume experts, the list goes on.
Get creative with your thinking.
Who else is interested in your clientele and how can you help the people who come to you by sending them to other services they need?
When you put all of this together, those networking events suddenly seem a whole lot more appealing, right?
I’m bringing therapist together on Saturday, September 29th at an event called Build Your Practice 2018… and it’s going to be AWESOME.
And if the networking aspect still feels uncomfortable to you (understandable), bring a friend! We will talk about how to build a flow of clients that doesn’t entirely rely on Psychology today and you’ll have ample time to connect deeply with a powerful network of therapists who are committed to your success. Ready? I can’t wait to see you there!!
Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.