This content is provided by Brighter Vision, an affinity partner of AAMFT. This information is not necessarily the views of AAMFT and should not be interpreted as official policy.
Unless you focus largely on clients who telecommute for your sessions, you will ultimately be looking to capture your neighbors' business, which makes local networking essential to your practice.
However, today, pinning up a flyer in the local coffee shop does not do as much as it used to. While networking with other professionals in your area can be extremely helpful, it can’t fill your client list alone. After a while, those Sunday morning brunches (or whenever your networking group meets) can start to make you feel like you’re spinning in circles.
You have your professional website, your beautiful business cards, and a passion for helping people – why isn’t this working??
It sounds like it could be time to break out of your networking funk with some fresh new ways to connect with your nearby potential clients.
7 Creative Ways to Reach Local Clients
- Teach a class or hold a talk with a catchy twist at your local library or community center.
Setting up a local class isn’t a completely new idea for you. You probably already know the importance of becoming a trusted voice and adviser in your community, especially when it comes to networking.
However, to cut through the white noise of local classes that make most people’s eyes glaze over, try finding an exciting new and ear-catching add to the topic or title. While puns, rhymes, alliteration, and light wordplay might not have done so well at your last dinner party, they can add a powerful ‘oomph’ to your marketing and help catch the attention and are more likely to leave a lasting impact on those listening.
For example, does your practice focus on anger management? Try hosting a class called “Creating Calm – Cracking the Code to Less Anger.”
Does your practice focus on family and/or group therapy? Try giving a talk called, “You Voted for Who?! – How to Talk Politics with Loved Ones.”
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- Use online meet-up sites to host a regular class or support group.
That’s right, in the futuristic land of 2020, “local networking” no longer has to mean entirely face-to-face. With sites such as Meetup.com, as well as any other local meet-up or group-building websites in your area, you can make finding your nearby, ideal clients a breeze.
Nowadays, creating a regular meeting of a support group for your ideal clients or a class focused on self-care habits that would benefit your ideal client is as simple as a few clicks. Using sites like Meetup.com to gather a community of your potential clients is a much more effective method and tends to be more beneficial than that flyer in a coffee shop.
- Get involved with locally based Facebook groups.
Previously mentioned, it’s a vast new world of virtual local networking!
Facebook groups are now a major way that local community groups convene and communicate. Getting your toe in the door with a Facebook group for a locally based group relevant to your practice can help reap huge rewards for you.
For example, does your practice focus on adults suffering from PTSD? Look for Facebook groups and pages created by local veteran groups, sexual survivor support groups, etc. It’s always best to start with the kinds of clients you’re the most excited about helping.
Once you’re in the group (which sometimes requires requesting permission), you can help comment and give advice, promote any relevant courses or talks you have coming up, build your credibility by posting helpful exercises and tips, and anything else that you think would interest that specific group of potential clients.
- Contribute to (relevant) local publications.
This one is slightly less obvious mostly because it depends largely on whether or not you have relevant publications in your area. But if you do, then it is worth checking out. You may have a psychology magazine basically in your backyard without even knowing it!
In the same way that writing for other clinicians’ blogs can be a great way to boost your SEO – writing for local publications can greatly increase your professional credibility right there in your targeted area.
- Become a local voice on Twitter.
Don’t have a local publication? No problem. Twitter is essentially the world’s local publication.
Internet users flock to Twitter to get the latest updates on their local surroundings or organizations. If you can strengthen your social media presence on Twitter, you can use it as a tool to support, advise, and directly interact with your local community members, and your community will take notice.
Hot Tip: You will be most successful on Twitter if you try to limit posts whose sole purpose is to promote a link to a different site to 50% or less of your overall Tweets. Twitter accounts work best when they’re used to directly interacting and communicating with your target audience on their level – instead of only projecting marketing messages over their head.
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- Create your own local e-newsletter.
Are you looking for more of a staying-in-pajamas-all-day way to network? We have a suggestion for that.
Creating and distributing your own email-based newsletter (or an “e-newsletter”) for your local community can help you establish yourself as a trusted expert to your neighbors.
You can market and promote your e-newsletter in many of the same ways that we’re talking about networking your practice locally because you still want to target nearby readership specifically.
- Volunteer to speak at local organizations.
When creating your own community of potential clients fails (or simply fails to fill your client list all on its own), you can always borrow someone else’s!
Local community clubs and organizations are typically self-organized, which usually means they have little to no operational budget. Volunteering your time and expertise to any relevant local groups is a smart networking move that can get you in front of a dozen local, potential clients, and a thank you for the free sample of your expertise from your resource-strapped local group.
Networking locally is essential for most private practices, but unless you have a professional, mobile-responsive website to direct your potential clients to, you may be throwing your time and effort down a pit.
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