Let’s go ahead and assume you buy into the idea that there are plenty of clients out there and that you don’t have to worry about your “competition” at all.
If you’re not bought in, I have a free video coming out next month to help with that. But in our imaginings where you’re totally comfortable with that idea, you have a lot more space to be generous, right?
You don’t have to waste your time and energy trying to get a leg up on someone else. Let’s spend your strategy brain cells on positive things, shall we?
You know one of the things that has been the biggest practice-building tools for me? Being generous. That doesn’t mean giving away sessions or not valuing your time or being a martyr. It means giving what you can, when you can and not a minute more.
Here are some examples of practice-building generosity:
- If another therapist has a long term client with new eating disorder symptoms and she wants to consult with me about best practices, if I have it to give, I chat with her about her client.
- If I meet a therapist that has the same specialty as a good friend, I email-introduce them. And not just “Hey ___ & ___, you should meet,” but a REAL introduction where I tell them a little about each other.
- If I know people in the city someone is moving to, I email-introduce them to my people there, with the same in-depth introduction that makes them actually want to meet one another.
- If a potential client calls or emails about setting up an appointment and I’m full, I talk with her about what she’s wanting to work through in therapy and what kind of therapist she’s looking for. Then I give her a list of hand-picked therapists that I think would be a great fit (networking comes in handy here so you can really get to know a lot of clinicians in your area). I do this even if I’m full because I don’t do waiting lists.
- If a treatment center rep asks for other people to invite to a networking dinner, I spread the word because everyone likes free dinner and the people the reps know are often the folks they refer to when clients are discharged.
- If a client needs a referral for her partner or friend, I am very thoughtful in who I provide as a referral. I never refer anyone to a clinician I wouldn’t send my friends or family to, ever.
- If a position on a Board of Directors or a great volunteer experience opens up that you’re actually excited about, do it! Make sure you will have the energy to continue your commitment (I’ve learned that the hard way) and that it’s something you believe in.
To be clear, I don’t do these things in order to get referrals, they’re things I’m interested in doing regardless of the benefit my practice gains from it.
That would be a recipe for resentment.
If this kind of effort is not something you’re into, don’t do it. Again, this is all about giving what you can, when you can. It’s not about burning yourself out. There are times I don’t have it to give and I have to work with the “I should’ve gone the extra mile” guilt, but that passes sooner than the martyrdom and frustration of having over-extended myself.
This article was adapted from a post originally published on the Abundance Practice Building blog.
Lightbulbs photo available from Shutterstock