I hate networking events for therapists. There. I said it.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the professional world of therapists is networking. Not networking itself- I love meeting other people to talk about this work i love doing and hear how they are doing something similar.
But the way we network often feels different. More closed off.
We get in a room together, share our degrees and certifications, and expect folks to refer clients our way. It's often the most passionless introduction imaginable, "Hi, I am Gina. I am an MFT, CPC, CDWF and I work with couples."
It's strange that in a profession full of people trained to be warm sometimes our events feel so cold.
There are two major flaws I see standing between a networking event and the connection and referrals we all want. I am writing about them here because I have started hosting alternative events for therapists all about meaning, connection, and authenticity (JOIN US) and I have seen incredible friendships, business partnerships, and connections result.
And yes, more referrals too.
Here's what we do different.
Stop focusing on referrals
When we head out for an event with a set outcome in mind, it is so much harder to allow space for connection. When we want something from someone else it changes the nature of our interactions. The agenda can get in the way of our purpose.
Truthfully the goal of getting referrals is often based in scarcity and fear. We're worried about money, or our practice's long term success and really want more clients. But when we approach one another from a place of fear all that anxiety comes right along with us.
Of course we want referrals from other providers. But what I have seen as a result of groups of us setting this focus aside if groups of healers creating more meaningful connection and understanding of our work.
Now, when we gather we get to know one another and our work better. We understand the gifts in the room better- and can make referrals with MUCH greater efficiency for the client because we know so much more.
Stop hiding behind jargon
As mental health professionals we are uniquely gifted in the art of defense using psychobabble. But when we hide behind what we know, it is so much more difficult to really get to know each other.
Well before I started hosting events, I challenged myself to connect more with others at these counseling networking functions. I stopped talking about what I do, stopped listing my trainings and credentials, and instead started talking about who I work with and what I love to do.
When I spoke this way, the room shifted and got lighter. People wanted to talk about my work because I spoke about it authentically and passionately. Instead of the introduction example I gave earlier, I said something like
"Hi, I am Gina. I am a therapist in Northeast Portland. I have really inspiring clients- I mean, these folks are just awesome- in my coaching practice focusing on realigning their careers with their passions and I've been working with couples who are considering non-monogamy and REALLY love helping them through infidelity troubles."
The more I connect with the passion and care in my work when I speak, the more other people connect with that passion and care too.
This is how I filled my practice with referrals from providers- my introduction stands out and is memorable because I am honest about what I love in this work. You can be too.
Let's change the way we connect with others in the profession.
Here's my challenge. Consider the questions below and practice introducing yourself and your work in a way that includes your answers. Maybe ask colleagues at your practice or next consult group.
Spice it up and get a little deeper with your colleagues. I promise you will learn something new if you do.
Continue the conversation about authenticity and marketing with us at the Authentic Marketing for Therapists facebook group online. We'd love to hear what you have to say!
Gina Senarighi is a business coach for therapists, social media strategist, and author. With careful planning and strategic marketing, in under one year she lead three thriving therapy practices.
Gina has quickly become a trusted voice on authenticity in marketing as an author, teacher, and guest expert on local and national media.
Due to her successes in therapy business she's been coaching other therapists to grow their counseling practices with ease and integrity.