Years ago, when I began my journey working with the chiropractic marketing division of my company, I had been given the opportunity to take my inside sales position outside of the office 4 to 5 times a year to attend chiropractic seminars and conventions across the United States and in Canada.
What never ceased to amaze me (and still doesn’t) is the fact that I could speak with a potential customer or client for years. I could stay in touch with letters and articles of interest, remember and recognize a birthday or anniversary, really develop a relationship and friendship with my prospects, but more times than not, they still were listed in my database as a “prospect”, not a “sold account”… Once I met that “prospect” face to face at a convention or seminar, the deal was sealed. The one on one meeting, the firm handshake, smile or hug, meeting of the eyes resulted in “the closed deal”
As I continue after over 10 years in the industry consulting and working with chiropractors to grow their practices, the evidence remains true. There is nothing more powerful than “Networking” to create new business opportunities.
I would recommend to any chiropractor truly interested in taking his or her practice to the next level to get out there and “pound the pavement” of your community. Meeting and greeting other business owners face to face is a sure way to brand your name in your community. Feeling a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a meet and greet with other business owners, take along a staff member or family member to help “lesson the pain” at first. I guarantee that after the first few meetings you will feel perfectly comfortable doing it “solo”…
O.k., so now I’ve peaked your interest and you’ve decided to take the plunge…here are some places you may want to begin.
Your Chamber of Commerce
Local Clubs and Organizations (Parent Teacher Organizations, VFW, Elks, American Legion, Knights of Columbus)
Your Local Church or Synagogue
Baseball/ Football/ Basketball/ Soccer Leagues
Volunteer Fire or First Aid Department
…The possibilities are endless…go online or check out your local telephone book to review organizations in the area.
And, if you really want to get daring, you may want to sponsor and event with an organization and speak in front of the group. If gun shy and just starting out, you may just attend as a guest, introduce your self and make some new friends.
The most important thing to remember when you are out there networking in the community is to become a trusted friend to those you are meeting and not come of as pushy or annoying by trying to sell yourself or service without first establishing some type of credibility or rapport. Yes, it’s necessary to have a business card in your pocket and to be prepared to discuss with others what you do, but the best approach is always a “lowed keyed” approach. Get to know the people you are meeting. Become interested in who they are, what they need, and whom they may know? Once you have established a common ground, it is then OK to take the next step and to begin to ask for referrals or opportunities to share customer’s bases or members. Always remember as well that is human nature for people to expect something in return, so be prepared as well, in advance, to have something of value to offer your new networking group for helping you. For example, you have attended your child’s PTO meeting and are getting to know some of the parents, teachers and officers in the organization. Maybe suggest at the second meeting you attend offering to host the break and conduct a “backpack safety” class for parents who are interested. Take it a step farther the next time and offer to do an evaluation for free for the children of parents who attend.
The point I’m making is…become interested in establishing friendships first. Get to know your community. Become genuinely involved and as your relationships grow and flourish, so will the number of new prospects and patients coming into your office!
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