Dynamic Chiropractic

Dynamic Chiropractic Facebook Twitter Get the Latest News FASTER - View Digital Editions Now!
Dynamic Chiropractic
Advanced Search
Wellness Blog
Dynamic Chiropractic PracticeINSIGHTS
Current Graphic
Dynamic Chiropractic – April 8, 2008, Vol. 26, Issue 08
Dynamic Chiropractic
Printer Friendly Email a Friend PDF RSS Feed
Share |
Dynamic Chiropractic

7 Networking Mistakes to Avoid

By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

Networking is the little-known secret weapon of practice success. It is the most cost-effective means to a referral-based practice and "raving fans."

In business, you don't just want satisfied customers, you want raving fans.

These are devoted patients who believe you are the only doctor worth visiting. They would never consider leaving your practice and they tell everyone about your business.

How do you create raving fans? One effective way is via networking. Seventy percent of your business will come from some sort of networking. Word-of-mouth advertising is the key to long-term practice growth and establishing a strong foundation for new-patient acquisition. Failing to develop this skill will negatively affect your financial future. Avoid these seven mistakes to ensure you don't become just another doctor in town or worse yet, a practice failure statistic.

Failing to Have a One-Liner

In most instances, you have about 10 seconds to describe who you are and what you do. Failing to develop a powerful one-line description of your services can make or break first impressions. Here is a good way to start. Take five pieces of paper. Assign one of the following sentences to the top of each sheet:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Whom you do it for?
  • How do you do it?
  • What happens as a result?

Write down all the words, characteristics, ideas and phrases that pertain to each of these areas of your patient introduction. Have fun! Spend at least a few minutes on each sheet. The whole point of starting with this activity is to make your prospective patient feel you really understand what they are all about, and that you're there to solve their problem or fill their need. Now it's time to create the liner. An example: "I'm Dr. Smith, and I renew people's quality of life by eliminating pain with laser light." I guarantee this will elicit a response.

Being a Part-Time Networker

Is there a time and place for networking? Yes, any time and any place. There is never a wrong time to make a new connection and meet potential patients. Networking is an attitude. Every time you go outside the office, be prepared to tell others who you are and what you do. The biggest obstacle to success is anonymity. If they don't know about you, how can they come to see you? Learn to be approachable in life. You are not only a doctor; you also are an entrepreneur who must master the art of marketing to set yourself apart from the competition. Read a new marketing book every month and implement one unique strategy every day.

Leaving Your Business Cards at Home

Never leave your practice without business cards! An effective card is arguably the most valuable tool you can have in building a business. For those just starting a practice, sometimes it's the only tool. Nothing is worse than being in a situation where you say, "I wish I had my business cards with me." When you give out cards, make sure you give out two at a time. People have a tendency to misplace cards, so give them a second chance to find you.

Networking etiquette 101: Don't give out a card until someone gives you theirs first, they ask for one of yours or you ask for theirs. Business cards should have some type of offer on the back. Use that space to promote your uniqueness. My most successful offer was a free laser therapy treatment. Get the best business card money can buy. It's your image and it makes an impact (positive, mediocre or negative) every time you give one out. When you give out your card, if someone doesn't look at it and say, "Nice card," get it redone.

Taking Before Giving

Building relationships is about giving. Provide something for others before you try taking something for yourself. It's not about selling your services to everyone in the room. Hard selling will more than likely alienate half the room in the first 10-minutes. Network with an open attitude of learning something new about the people you meet. Express interest in them and I guarantee they will be more open to helping you. Engage in meaningful conversation, not simple fluff talk to pass time before handing them your card. People can sense when you are genuinely interested in them. Discover something that your probable customer considers valuable and give it away. It only needs to be information that will help them build their business so you can earn yours.

Expecting Too Much Too Soon

Building relationships via networking takes time. Don't expect to get 20 new patients at your first event. Trust is a big factor in networking. Prospective customers need to know you truly care about their needs before they decide to use your services. They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. People buy people first. They don't like to be sold, but they love to buy. People like and want to do business with their friends. True friendships don't happen overnight, so be patient and enjoy the little moments until they start paying off. Trust me, they always do. Most people will begin the trust connection after three encounters. Thus, your goal is three individual networking interactions with a new contact.

Resorting to Desperation

Never network for new patients out of desperation. Desperation permeates all of your actions and activities. People can smell desperation like a shark smells blood in the water. It is an automatic turnoff, which can make you do things to compromise your integrity and character. Marketing is not something you do when business is slow; it's something you do all the time so you never get slow. Plan on attending two networking events every month, and incorporate this practice-building action step into your monthly marketing calendar. You do have a marketing calendar, don't you?

Failing to Follow Up

Just because they have your card doesn't mean they are going to call. In fact, they probably won't. It's a hard truth, but people don't care about you or your business. They care about themselves. You must follow up with every contact in a timely manner and provide valuable added information. It's called "keep-in-touch marketing" and it is an art form worth mastering. At regular intervals, contact your network via phone calls, e-mails, newsletters, e-zines, blog posts, special offers and information pertaining to their industry and yours. Investing targeted effort into cultivating your network will pay high dividends in the future. There are numerous software applications to help establish a systematic keep-in-touch system. A scrap piece of paper with notes won't cut it in today's world.

Action Step: The 7 Best Places to Network

  • Chamber of Commerce business event, after-hours
  • Any networking club or business organization with solid contacts
  • A civic organization (Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, etc.)
  • Charity events or community volunteer organizations
  • Cultural events
  • Your trade or professional association
  • Private clubs (country clubs, health clubs, spas)

Networking is an art. And just like any piece of art, it takes repeated strokes on the canvas to reveal a masterpiece. Don't get discouraged if you are shy or reserved. Remember that most people you meet are just as nervous as you are. It's human nature to fear rejection. The easiest way to eliminate this fear is by action. The more you do it, the better you become. Don't take yourself too seriously and make this an ongoing life skill. Network and prosper!

Click here for more information about Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA.

Dynamic Chiropractic

Dynamic Chiropractic
Printer Friendly Email a Friend PDF RSS Feed
Share |
Dynamic Chiropractic
Dynamic Chiropractic
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.
comments powered by Disqus
Dynamic Chiropractic
How often do you reach out to patients who haven't visited your practice in six months or more?
Every few months
Every 3-4 months
Every six months or so
Once a year
Less frequently

Sign Up for Our Webinars
Receive Advanced Notice of Future Webinars