Marketing Your Practice: 6 Tips for Building Your Professional Network
The old saying about business success goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While that’s not quite true in the healthcare industry - what you know is one of the most vital parts to providing healthcare - who you know also matters a lot to your personal success and the success of your practice. Building your network of healthcare professionals (HCPs) requires ongoing work outside of your practice’s walls, but it can help you discover new opportunities, teach you valuable information, and gain a steady source of referrals.
1. Develop an Elevator Pitch
The thing about networking is that while you’re ultimately going to use your network to grow your practice, get new patients, and find new opportunities, the process of making a connection isn’t really about you. Most of the time, you’ll want to be asking new acquaintances about their work and showing interest in what they have to say, but you still need to be able to let them know who you are and what you do. This is where the elevator pitch comes in, but rather than pitching an idea for a product or service, you’re pitching yourself.
Your elevator pitch should be about 20-30 seconds in length and touch on just a few interesting pieces of information. What’s your specialty? Where are you working now? Where did you go to school? What’s something that sets you apart from other healthcare practitioners? The more concise your pitch, the easier it will be for your new connection to remember you down the road.
2. Network Early and Often
It’s never too early to start networking in the healthcare industry. Even if you’re still in school, or have recently graduated, making connections with other healthcare professionals is a great way to learn, find new opportunities, and create relationships for referrals. If you’re already practicing, you’ve probably made a few connections already. Invite them to attend networking events for healthcare practitioners with you: they can introduce you to the people they know, and vice versa.
3. Attend Conferences
Conferences across the country (and the globe, if you’re feeling adventurous) are great places to meet HCPs within your speciality. Networking events such as meals, cocktails, and live entertainment are often included in the price of a conference ticket. Even if the people you meet aren’t in your area, it’s sometimes helpful to consult with industry connections for questions you have about patient care and running a practice, or help if you’re looking to relocate to their area. In addition, many conferences offer panels and discussions that count as CME credits, making conference attendance even more valuable.
4. Maintain Old Connections
When life changes occur, like finishing school or changing jobs, people sometimes lose the relationships that they had previously built, whether accidentally or purposefully. It’s best not to burn too many bridges, however. Making an effort to stay in contact with old connections is an easy way to grow your network.
Keeping in touch with old connections can be as simple as adding them on LinkedIn, or sending them a card around the holidays. You don’t have to talk to them every day, or even every month, as long as you’re keeping each other relatively up-to-date on news about your professional accomplishments. You may be surprised at how an old acquaintance can open doors.
5. Use Social Media
Social media is typically associated with people’s personal lives, like keeping up with family and friends. But it can also be a powerful professional tool for promoting your practice, building your personal brand, and connecting with other HCPs. If you haven’t already done so, create a LinkedIn profile with relevant education information and work experience, then create a plan to post regularly and build your network within the platform. Sharing your knowledge, insights, and experience helps to keep your name in front of your connections, as well as engage in discussion and reach new people. You can also go beyond LinkedIn to Facebook groups, industry-specific forums, and even Twitter to engage with HCPs around the world.
6. Connect Outside the Industry
While making connections with healthcare professionals is most likely the primary focus of your networking efforts, it’s also important to reach out to people outside of the industry. Local business groups bring together leaders of businesses from restaurants to services to retail, and making a name for yourself in the community can help to bring in patients in your area. Attend events with business leaders, local government, and community members, and be as helpful as you can. Your willingness to be an active part of your local community will be recognized by those around you.
While building your network isn’t necessarily traditional marketing, it does give you access to peers with great knowledge about the industry and a source of new patient referrals even when other marketing channels aren’t paying off. To learn more about succeeding in an uncertain market, download this insightful article from Dr. Timothy Burkhart about growing a chiropractic clinic below.
Our "Marketing Your Practice" blog series will discuss some practical tips that healthcare professionals can use to grow their businesses. Subscribe to the blog to get these articles to your inbox.