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Networking, The Client-builder

By: Bryan Durocher
Posted: January 28, 2010, from the November 2009 issue of

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Abstract: To keep your practice growing, networking is essential. By getting involved with successful networking groups, developing a defining statement and maintaining the relationships built throughout, you can broaden your business's visibility, marketing and client base at little to no cost.

Medical practices are not immune to having to sustain themselves during these challenging economic times. The good news is the most effective ways to grow your practice are universal at all times, and the only difference is that right now it is critical to take action. A surefire way to gain more clients is not through more expensive advertising that isn’t traceable—it’s through networking and face-to-face marketing. Results can be tracked to see where your efforts are paying off, and it’s low-cost. From clients referring friends and family to your staff members belonging to at least one networking group each, getting the word out about your practice beyond your regular clientele is essential for business sustainability. But getting out—and more importantly, getting up—to talk about your practice isn’t always easy. The good news is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel—there are opportunities already developed.

Identify the group

Beginning a profitable networking program requires the entire staff’s commitment. Start by explaining to the staff the benefit in its most basic form. Emphasize the rewards the staff will receive, not just how the practice will benefit.

Next, there are many different networking groups empowering and motivating people who want to expand the possibilities for generating business. Research the available groups in your community. There will be several, and all have different ground rules for how they are run. Also belonging to networking groups for your profession is a great way to stay on top of trends and industry movement; however, it is beneficial to choose groups that only permit one member of a specific profession to join, as it will allow you to reach a broader base of people than just other physicians.

Be realistic about your availability. The ability to attend networking meetings is essential to success. Encourage your staff to share a networking group to maximize opportunities while providing good support and motivation. Attending networking meetings, even for the most social of people, can seem daunting. By sharing a group, staff members will be able to fully commit to the process and know they only have to attend an event every other week and have a back-up person to share the responsibility.