Back to School Special: Networking

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New business owners sometimes have a tough time networking. I remember when I used to sweat making a presentation to a group or talking with a chamber of commerce member over coffee because I thought I was recruiting a client. Certainly that is one way to build a practice, but what if the goal of networking is really to build a referral team? I recommend that instead of recruiting a client, you look at networking as building a posse of passionate advocates who can’t stop/won’t stop talking about how awesome you are to everyone they know in the community.

It’s easier than you think.

Do you remember the shampoo commercial from the 80s? The one where it was such a fabulous product that “you’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on…”

It’s just like that; but instead of two people, I want you to tell ten.

There are lots of places where small groups of people meet to interact and learn from one another. Some examples are:

  • Your local Chamber of Commerce. These can be larger groups but you can usually find smaller committees to attend.
  • Toast Masters
  • School PTO and PTA meetings
  • Business Networking International (BNI)
  • Social media local special interest groups that meet in person

12 Seconds of Information

Most of us can only handle about twelve seconds of information before we start to think about how we want to respond or get anxious about the content (think about the last time you went to the doctor and she was explaining your next procedure). As anxiety goes up, cognition goes down. Simply put: your audience can’t remember and store important info about you if you talk too much.

Here’s a simple formula:

  1. Tell them your name
  2. Tell them what you do
  3. Excite their emotions
  4. Tell them how to talk about/connect their friends with amazing you
  5. Tell them your name again and give them a call to action

Sometimes this is called an elevator speech and maybe, back in the age of slow elevators, you had thirty seconds to make your pitch. I don’t know about you but I’ve been in some pretty fast elevators so I stick to my original premise: twelve seconds and no longer.

If you don’t have a phone number or a website stop reading and go get one. You must have a website, phone number or (ideally) a scheduling app that your audience can see on their phone. This is kind of like passing out your card by the way, without all the stone-age communication and dead trees.

Before I start my 12 seconds, I make sure my listener has a phone handy or I tell everyone in the group I’m addressing to get their phones out. I have my own phone or IPad handy with my app pulled up and ready to go. Our practice software Full Slate allows potential clients to self-schedule a 10 minute consultation utilizing a big orange square button placed prominently on the website.

I don’t want you to leave this blog guessing so the following is exactly what I say and how I say it:

  1. “Hi I’m Dr. Kate Walker and…
  2. …my marriage and family therapy practice is located in Market Street in The Woodlands.
  3. Everyone in this room knows someone who needs help with a marriage, a child, or a loved one. You feel weird telling them to go to a therapist.
  4. The Orange Button makes it easy for struggling friends and loved ones to ask tough questions and get answers today, for FREE [I show them my phone/IPad with my orange app prominently displayed].
  5. I’m Dr. Kate Walker with Tell someone you love to push the orange button today.

Remember; you are not recruiting clients, you are building a referral team who is passionate about you and has an easy way to tell people they love how to connect with you. Stay tuned to for the video blog where I describe this in more detail.

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