Every good therapist understands how essential local networking can be to their practice. Unless you focus largely on clients who telecommute for your sessions, you will ultimately be looking to capture the business of your neighbors.
However, as every good therapist also knows, pinning up a flyer in the local coffee shop does not do nearly as much as it used to. And while networking with other professionals in your area can definitely be helpful, it can’t fill up your client list on your own and after a while those Sunday morning brunches (or whenever your networking group meets) can start to make you feel like you’re spinning in circles.
You have your professional website, your beautiful business cards, and a passion for helping people – why isn’t this working??
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Sounds like it could be time to break out of your networking funk with some zesty new ways to connect with your nearby potential clients. Try these on for size…
7 Creative Ways to Reach Local Clients
1. Teach a class or hold a talk with a catchy twist at your local library or community center.
Setting up a local class or talk probably isn’t a totally new idea to you – becoming a trusted voice and adviser in your community is a key goal when it comes to nearby networking.
However, to really cut through the white noise of local classes that make most people’s eyes glaze over, try finding an ear-catching or timely zing to add to the topic or title. Don’t be afraid to get a little cheesy – while puns, rhymes, alliteration, and light word play might not have done so well at your last dinner party, they can add a powerful ‘umph’ to your marketing.
For example, does your practice focus on anger management? Try hosting a class called, “Creating Calm – Cracking the Code to Less Anger.”
Does your practice focus family and/or group therapy? Try giving a talk called, “You Voted for Who?! – How to Talk Politics with Loved Ones.”
2. Use online meet-up sites to host a regular class or support group.
That’s right, in the futuristic land of 20XX, “local networking” no longer has to mean entirely face-to-face. Meetup.com, along with any local meet-up or group-building websites that may be available for your area, can make finding your nearby ideal clients a breeze.
Nowadays, creating a regular meeting of a support group for your ideal clients or a class focused on self-care habits and exercises that would benefit your ideal client is as simple as a few clicks. You’ll find that using sites like Meetup.com to gather a community of your potential clients is a far, far more effective method than that flyer in a coffee shop.
3. Get involved with locally based Facebook groups.
Like we mentioned before, it’s a brave new world of virtual local networking!
Facebook groups are now a major way that local community groups convene and communicate. Getting your toe in the door with a Facebook group for a locally based group relevant to your practice can reap huge networking rewards for you.
For example, does your practice focus on adults suffering from PTSD? Look for Facebook groups and pages created by local veteran groups, sexual survivor support groups, etc. Start with the kinds of clients you’re the most excited about helping.
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Once you’re in the group (which will sometimes require requesting permission with a direct message), you can help comment and give advice to those already seeking it, promote any relevant courses or talks you have coming up, build your credibility by posting helpful exercises and self-care tips, and anything else that you think would interest that specific group of potential clients.
4. Contribute to (relevant) local publications.
This one is a little less obvious because it depends largely on whether or not you have a relevant publication in your area. It is definitely worth checking out. You may have a psychology magazine basically in your backyard and not even know it!
Just like how writing for other clinicians’ blogs can be a great tool to boost your SEO – which is basically the never-ending fight to prove your credibility to Google – writing for local publications can greatly increase your professional credibility right there in your targeted area.
5. Become a local voice on Twitter.
Don’t have a local publication? No problem. Twitter is the world’s local news.
Internet users flock to Twitter all the time to get the latest updates on their local surroundings or organizations. If you strengthen your social media presence on Twitter and use it as a tool to support, advise, and directly interact with your local community members, that community will take notice.
Hot Tip! You will be most successful on Twitter if you try to limit posts whose sole purpose is to promote a link to a different site to 50% or less of your overall Tweets. Twitter accounts work best when they’re used to directly interact and message with your target audience, on their level – instead of only projecting marketing messages over their head.
6. Create your own local e-newsletter.
Looking for more of a staying-in-pajamas-all-day way to network locally? We actually have a suggestion for that.
Creating and distributing your own email-based newsletter (or an “e-newsletter”) for your local community can be a wonderful way to establish yourself as a trusted expert to your neighbors.
You can market and promote your e-newsletter in many of the same ways that we’re talking about networking your practice locally, because you will still want to specifically target nearby readership.
7. Volunteer to speak at local clubs and organizations.
When creating your own community of potential clients fails (or simply fails to fill your client list all on its own), you can always borrow someone else’s!
Local community clubs and organizations are typically self-organized and founded, meaning they have little to no operational budget. Volunteering your time and expertise to any relevant local groups is a smart networking move that can get you in front of a five to five-dozen local, potential clients – and your resource-strapped local groups will thank you for the free sample of your expertise.
Remember, networking locally is essential for most private practices but unless you have a professional, mobile-responsive website where you can direct your potential clients, you may be throwing your time and effort down a pit.
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