The Direct Care Way

Networking Do's and Don'ts

January 23, 2024 Tea Nguyen, DPM Season 2 Episode 102
The Direct Care Way
Networking Do's and Don'ts
Show Notes Transcript

In-person networking still works and I believe this is why I have been voted as the best podiatrist in my area 3 years in a row. It's not because I am the best podiatrist, I just happen to be the most accessible and people appreciate that.
These are the key do's and don'ts to build your reputation and grow your practice.

1. Make the most of it by showing up
2. Make meaningful connections
3. Follow up

1. Expect a fast referral
2. To take more than you give
3. Give up

Marketing is a game for the long run but it doesn't work if you never show up.

Dr. Tea  0:00 
Owners of a direct care practice are more likely to experience higher job satisfaction than the insurance based practice. And it's no wonder why direct care is independent of insurance. Patients pay the doctor directly for their expertise, the doctor gets full autonomy in how they care for patients and how they get paid. They have chosen this path with a love of medicine. This is the direct care way.

Dr. Tea  0:24 
By listening to this podcast, you may even start to believe that you too can have a successful direct care practice. Come listen with an open mind as I share my personal journey and how I pivoted from an insurance based practice to direct care right in the middle of the pandemic, and the valuable lessons along the way. This podcast may be the very thing you need to revitalize your medical practice. I'm your host, owner of a direct care podiatry practice Dr. Tea Nguyen.

Dr. Tea  0:52 
Three important lessons I learned as I was building my practice networking with my local community that I want to share with you today. I talk a lot about how you need to market yourself as a direct care practice and how it that's a really necessary skill to develop in that you can do it. So whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, you're an identified when you have a direct hair practice, you do really need to put yourself out there so that people know you exist, so that they can find you. And then they can tell their friends to find you and so on. So it's really important to know how to market and really setting up for the right kind of expectations. So here are the three most important things to remember, when you go out there and network in your community. Some places where you can do networking include things like showing up for a ribbon cutting ceremony for other businesses, especially the smaller businesses, they're always looking for community connections and networking. And when you show up, everybody who is there actually wants to network. So this is a really great time to drop off your cards and start to get to know the people in your community, including the mayor and the people who are involved in putting these events together, their marketing team, the Chamber of Commerce, there are other entities like the business networking associations, I forgot what the full name was. But it's BNI. There are also things like Leads, L-E-A-D s, that are niche oriented. So certain niches or specialties will have their own type of local networking businesses. In my community, there are things that are women business oriented that I participate in. And so by finding out what exists in your community, is going to help you be in front of the people who need you a lot more quickly than it is to go door to door to referral sources like the general primary care doctors who are insurance based, we still need to do some of that. And we also need to diversify our efforts, just so that we start to see what's trending towards what's working and what's not. Because there's going to come a point where knocking door to door gets exhausting or even feels like it's not working.

Dr. Tea  3:11 
So the three most important things that I've learned from these types of marketing events is that number one, you gotta manage your expectations. You can't just show up, put your face in front of everybody else, drop off your card and expect patients to come knocking at your door. This is very much like dating, you're just going to experience, feel out the vibe, see who's there, see who you can connect with, start showing your face and just recognize that one visit isn't always going to translate into an abundance of referrals. So just like dating, you're going to have to feel your way around the crowd and see what partners you can align yourself up with. And let them know that you are accepting new patients and you would love to help people who have whatever specialty you're you are, what you can solve for them. So this is a great time to learn how to do effective small talk, and just really bond with the people who are also business owners at these events. We are all trying to do the same thing. We are all trying to expand our network to get people to know what we do and to help others. So just managing your expectations that showing up once or twice to these events does not equate to an abundance of referrals. You actually have to follow up, create those connections and continue to educate people what it is that you do so that they fully understand what you have to offer.

Dr. Tea  4:42 
Number two, is to enjoy the process. I know for a lot of us doctors, we're generally in our heads a lot. We are introverted. We don't love to put ourselves out there. But this is the time for you to learn how fun it could be to Put yourself out there. And I know that sounds kind of like an oxymoron being around people might give you anxiety. But you have to find space to see that the work that you're doing is going to be a little bit fun. So what could be fun in these experiences? Well, once you finally show up, you might be surprised that people already know about you, or they've been meaning to connect with you. And they just couldn't find the right moment to do so until you showed up. So wherever you are, whatever your anxieties or fears you're feeling, when it comes to meeting other people look at it from a different point of view, maybe they've been waiting for you to show up, maybe they were just so busy, and so caught up with their own thing that they've never had the chance to meet you, but they've heard about you. Or maybe they didn't know about you, but they do have a problem that you can solve. And they're just so happy that you showed up to give them kind of the wink of opportunity to come work with you. So find a way to enjoy something out of that event, never walk away saying that did nothing for me, that's not the energy you want to bring. As you are showing up for other people, you want to say, well, at least I met so and so at least I got to shake hands with the mayor, at least I know that this business exists. And now we can start exchanging information or even sharing patients with one another. That's how you want to show up in these events is what one thing did you get from it. And if you didn't get anything, you have to find a way to get something out of it. And this concept can be found in a book called The Gap and The Gain. And it tells you how basically to experience life and how to experience growing your business, we don't always seek out the end result, we really want to enjoy the process. And it's so easy for us to feel defeated, because we never saw the return on investment for all the work that we do. But I want you to trust that everything you do matters, and that it's the small accumulation of things that you're doing that is going to add up to something really beautiful, really magical. And then someday, you're gonna see your business thriving, and you're gonna wonder how it all really happened. And this is how it happened, you enjoyed every single thing that you're doing to put yourself out there. So that was number two.

Dr. Tea  7:21 
And number three, is really to be consistent in being present, whether you're choosing your online platform, or you're choosing to be present in person at all of these community events. Or maybe you're going to blend the two and diversify how you mark it, you really want to just be consistently present in the way that you show up and make sure you start building on your relationship. So for example, if you meet somebody at these events, who have an alignment in what you do, and they're a potential referral source, maybe you extend another opportunity to meet with them privately, like have a lunch, or do a book club, or go golfing, or grab some coffee, or pull them aside and say, I'd love to learn a little bit more about you, and how I can help you. So those are the top three things that I really want you to pay attention to, when you get the opportunities to be in front of potential people that you can help or the people that they might know that you can help. That's how you make the most of these networking opportunities through your chamber of commerce or other types of places where people gather. And I really love the opportunity to be in front of other small businesses, because we all have the same struggle. We're all trying to be out there. And we're all trying to expand our businesses. And you would be surprised as to how much these types of individuals want you to grow and want to support you because we are all dealing with the same kind of pain. People don't know us, but we can definitely help them.

Dr. Tea  8:54 
Now with that there are very specific things that I don't think you should be doing. And this is what those things are. Number one, do not expect a direct referral each and every time you go to these networking events. Which means if you show up once to an event, and you say I got nothing from that, you've lost the opportunity to see something from it, because you don't want to just show up and feel nothing was gained. First of all, you're a physician, your hourly rate is $500. If you spent an hour at someplace, and you truly felt you got nothing out of it, that is really your loss because you didn't make something out of it. But instead if you're looking at that as if you just planted a seed, you made some soft connections, then you're really investing in the time you spent in it, and then you're gonna follow up with it and just tap their shoulders and continue to show up. Enjoy the process and manage your expectations. So don't expect a direct referral immediately. Each time you go to a networking event, otherwise will be disappointed. And it won't be a fair exchange because you're expecting to receive a lot more than you give, you actually have to give a lot more to get stuff back.

Dr. Tea  10:14 
And that's actually mind number two, is that when you show up to these events, show up in a way that you're offering services to them to help them grow as well. So always give more than you take. So my number two of what not to do is to take more than you get the exact opposite. So when you show up and expect people to refer to you, but you've not done a whole lot to give to them, to help them grow, to speak kindly behind their backs in other circles, to do the things that they're desperately wanting you to do to help them grow. If you haven't done that, first, you haven't really earned the right to ask for a referral. So it's a give and take and give more than you take. We are all mostly service industries. And the more you give, you're going to see that it's going to come back as a huge return on investment. But always start off with an idea of how you can help them and eventually they're going to come back and want to reciprocate to help you.

Dr. Tea  11:15 
The last thing number three on things that you should not be doing when you network is don't give up. Maybe you showed up once or twice, or maybe three times to these types of events. And you felt like nothing came from it, you would be surprised as to how often people are talking about you talking about how they wanted to connect with you waiting for the right moment to be in your space. And you just don't hear that talk that's happening. So it works for you without you being present, which means people are aware, when you show up consistently, they you know, the energy you bring is very giving, it's very kind, you're that nice doctor who always shows up to support other people, you're going to be talked about, in a good way, when you show up. And so I want you to just keep that in mind. Even if it feels like nothing is really happening. It is just happening on a micro level. And it's happening without you being present. So do not give up on these networking opportunities, because it works.

Dr. Tea  12:22 
The reason why I talk so much about marketing is because number one, we've never been trained to know how to market. Number two, we don't really know how to set our expectations up, we think that if we just do it once we do it perfectly, we should be getting that return on investment. But the reality is, every single community is different. Every little pocket of events that you go to is different. And so you don't really know what's going to work until you put yourself out there many, many, many times. It's not just three times, it's not just six times, it's all the time. And that's how you become really well known for what you do is just by being consistent, being present, and most important of all, do it and have a good time, as you're building your practice. I hope that this was a helpful tip for you to really engage in your community to let people know who you are and how you help. And certainly that you are a partner within the community. So people can start recognizing you as that person to send patients to should they have the problem that you're solving. That's all I have for today about making the most of your networking experiences, “the worst thing you can do is walk away and say to yourself, I got nothing from that. So instead, flip the script and say, I am planting the seeds. And now I have to continue to water it until it grows from one introvert to another”. I know this is hard. But trust me all the work that you're doing matters and it's going to show itself soon enough. I'll catch you next week. Take care.

Dr. Tea  13:56  
Thank you so much for being here with me. If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, please like, share and subscribe so more people like you can have access to another way of practicing medicine, that direct care way. Let's connect find my info in the show notes and send me your questions. That might be the topic for future episodes. 

Dr. Tea  14:15  
And lastly, if you remember nothing else, remember this be the energy you want to attract. See you next time