Harnessing the Power of Networking as a Therapist
By the time we make it through our graduate programs, many therapists already have an established network of professional contacts. While maintaining these current networks is essential as you build a private practice, it’s equally critical to expand and cultivate new relationships.
Not only can networking keep your “referral faucet” flowing, strengthening your network can also help you sleep better at night knowing that you have people to turn to in times of uncertainty and a reminder that you’re not alone.
Being your own boss, running a small business, and working alone can be liberating — even if at times it can feel solitary.
Networking can help you connect with colleagues while also enhancing your autonomy and agency as you continue to build your practice.
Even if you’ve been a therapist for a while, you’ll want to expand and strengthen your network. By increasing your network of connections, you can find new career opportunities, develop new interests, broaden your expertise, and take your private practice to exciting new heights.
Here are some simple yet highly effective therapist networking ideas to incorporate when growing your network.
Stay in Front of People
If you want to receive referrals from colleagues, you’ll want to position yourself to be “top of mind”. Remain engaged with your colleagues as well as other professionals from different disciplines.
There are numerous networking events, professional development seminars, and webinars where you can learn crucial clinical and business skills and begin to network.
Taking on voluntary leadership roles in local events, public speaking at workshops, and community consultations can also help you stay top of mind. These are excellent networking opportunities to promote your practice and make connections with other therapists and potential clients.
If you shrink away from these opportunities and stay hidden, you may be passing up a multitude of rich referral opportunities. I can think of many opportunities I’ve missed by neglecting to include local therapists, doctors, experts, and organizations in my networking efforts.
You can also actively participate in multidisciplinary professional organizations; this makes you a trusted, go-to therapist for many different providers.
Offering excellent care and being actively engaged in the industry will help bolster your reputation by staying on top of people’s minds.
Connect With Your Colleagues Online
In today’s technology-driven world, you can find almost everything online. No matter how traditional a business may seem, having an internet presence and compelling website can be your best 24/7 salesperson.
With the right profiles and website, you can build an abundance of diverse professional networking opportunities versus operating in a vacuum.
How willing are you to leverage the power of the internet?
Today, there are reliable and trustworthy professional websites that’ll enable you to connect with other talented therapists and build a strong network. You can find your own professional network you want to build and focus on — from LGBTQ therapists networks, BIPOC therapists networks, virtual or in-person therapists networks— having an online presence and being responsive to inquiries is a wonderful place to be when building your professional network.
Psych Today remains one of the largest online sites for behavioral science and mental health. As a result, a lot of reputable therapists use the Psych Today website, allowing you to connect with them as well.
LinkedIn is also an excellent professional resource to connect with colleagues. It’s basically the Facebook for professionals and remains the world’s largest social/professional hybrid network. As LinkedIn members come from a variety of different professions, it offers the option to filter by the mental health industry and find therapist professionals to network with. If used wisely, LinkedIn can be a source of solid clinical consultation for therapists where you can make connections and stay ahead of trends in the mental health field.
Therapist Networking Ideas Besides Facebook and Instagram
Facebook, now known as “Meta”, is unquestionably the most well-known social media platform in the world, and it can be a great platform to connect with people. However, it’s not the best tool to build a network as a therapist.
With companies like Meta, who also own Instagram, you actually don’t “own” your professional network. Meta and their companies are the ones that actually “own” your network. They dictate the terms of agreement and can change their terms of service at any time, with little notice.
One minute the platform is free, the next minute they want to charge you a premium to reach your audience.
Since Facebook is a public social media platform, it’s often better to avoid networking on Meta because your information can be seen by many people, including your patients. Even in Facebook groups, it’s possible that patients or clients have been granted access to groups you’re a part of, especially if it’s a large group with loose administrative oversight. Some Facebook administrators are more interested in growing their group size and may not be able to screen every group member adequately.
For this and other reasons, it’s important to choose online networking options with secure channels where there’s a guarantee of privacy.
Networking for Therapists with Community That Values Kindness and Professionalism
As a professional therapist, it’s wise to join a community with trustworthy and well-intentioned professionals like yourself. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose institute that’s very demanding or expensive.
You can find trusted and reliable professionals through private communities like the Clarity Cooperative, as well as any other supportive, nurturing support groups for therapists.
We created the Clarity Cooperative to be a nationwide digital platform and community forum for therapists who are looking to live a more expansive and joyful life while also being in private practice.
The Cooperative community forum has a feed that allows you to connect with colleagues in your area who share your specialty, credentials, career stage, alma mater, interests, and so on. All of our resources are vetted by industry experts and designed to help you succeed, regardless of where you’re at in your career.
Be Discerning While Building Your Therapist Network
You’re allowed to be discerning when it comes to your network.
You’re allowed to refer clients only to certain therapists. This doesn’t make you an unkind therapist — or an unkind colleague. There may be certain therapists that you wouldn’t necessarily refer to someone who is close to you, and other colleagues who you feel comfortable referring to because you know their specialty and personality are solid fits for your referrals.
At the end of the day, you never want to alienate your peers or be too exclusionary, but you do have the right to be discerning. It’s all about striking a balance between being thoughtful and discerning about someone’s abilities, professionalism, and the goodness of fit for any number of potential clients to come into your stratosphere.
Practice Gratitude and Acknowledge Referral Sources
Embodying an attitude of gratitude means expressing your appreciation for the abundance that life offers us.
No matter how small a favor a colleague has provided for you, there are many creative ways to show your gratitude and acknowledgement.
In the end, a critical component of successful networking is embodying a generosity of spirit and acknowledging others for everything they’ve given.
Provide Endorsements To Build Trust and Illustrate Expertise
Mutual endorsements from other professionals and former clients can be very powerful. In providing endorsements for people that you really trust and respect, the more likely they are to reciprocate in return. These endorsements demonstrate that you’re a trusted authority with expertise.
By showing your respect to others in your network, you’ll stand out as someone who is professionally engaged and well connected, which is what more and more people are looking for in medical and mental health establishments.
Send a Note Demonstrating Your Thanks
It’s a given that being grateful and showing that you’re thankful can improve the quality of your relationships, especially in the field of mental health where many professionals operate alone.
It’s a powerful gesture to write thank you emails or letters to your professional referral sources like other psychiatrists, therapists, health care professionals, or anyone that’s in your network in the field of emotional health and wellness.
Remember, people generally tend to reciprocate, and they will remember you for your thoughtful gesture. Saying “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” are all highly persuasive and compelling, and this can help you build a strong network.
Reinforce Referrals Sources by Showing You Care
In order for any relationship to be successful, networking should involve both giving and receiving.
A great example – you shouldn’t just request a recommendation from another therapist without being prepared to also provide one. Find out what areas of expertise others have that you don’t, then see if you can recommend them to any of your network. In keeping your relationships healthy and reciprocal, they will be considerably more inclined to refer clients to you in return.
Reinforcing referrals in this way demonstrates that you’re conscientious and that you care.
Your validation and appreciation have a powerful impact.
As a result, others are more likely to return the favor later on, and you’ll establish a network of people that support one another.
Give Yourself Permission To Take a Break
As energizing as networking can be, it’s also important to know when you need a break.
Socializing and being “on” all the time can be exhausting.
You’re allowed to take a break from the therapeutic community and from other therapists; it can be helpful to get out of that headspace from time to time. You can’t focus on networking or be the best therapist you can be if you’re feeling tired, depleted, or disoriented.
If you’re worn out, it will show up in your networking efforts, and other people will notice, making some of your effort self-defeating.
If you’re distracted or have brain fog, taking a break will help you refocus.
Spending some reflective and restorative time alone to refuel allows you to think about who you are and why you’re doing the work you do. This reprieve can actually help refresh your mind, giving you the opportunity to be more attentive and present in the moment.
When you take a break, you’re not shrinking responsibility. You’re looking after yourself so that you’ll have the energy to perform at your best.
Balance Your Therapist Networking Efforts
The same goes for working as a therapist; networking needs to be balanced with self-care and time away from the profession, so you can feel sustained and live the full, vibrant life you deserve.
You’re allowed to find a balance that works for you — just don’t punish yourself by pushing on once you’ve realized that you need a break.
For some, networking comes more naturally than for others. In reality, networking presents a challenge for many therapists. You may feel like you’re trying too hard to sell yourself, maybe you worry about coming across as pushy, or that by being self-promoting, you’re putting yourself in a bad light. Although it may seem difficult, networking, when done in alignment with your authentic style is actually rather mangeable.
If you aren’t compelled to embark on your networking efforts, curiously ask yourself to reflect on the “why” behind your hesitation.
Are you feeling burned out?
Are you feeling disillusioned by the field or by the work?
Are you afraid of being judged?
Are you being judgmental of others?
Your curiosity and the answers you receive can provide you with profound insight.
Build Your Therapist Network With People Who Can Relate
If the prospect of networking seems daunting, it can be helpful to find people who can easily relate and who understand your work.
Not many people understand what it’s like to be a therapist, and therapists sometimes endure a lot of criticism or judgment.
In a world where people can sometimes even be fascinated and almost voyeuristic in their responses to learning that you’re a therapist, it’s helpful to be around people who understand what it feels like to be a therapist and what it feels like to sit with clients.
Diversify Your Network To Refresh and Reset
Conversely, it’s also good to avoid only being around a bunch of therapists all the time. Try to have a diverse group of people in your network that are positive and minimize any joyless and toxic energy.
This can give you a refreshing reprieve from your day-to-day routine, and you can build strong connections with people who aren’t necessarily so deeply connected to the work. They can bring a fresh set of ideas, experiences, and perspectives to the table.
In the end, it’s all about balance.
Surround Yourself With Affirmation, Not Criticism
The bottom line is to focus on building your network with people who will provide caring, validating, and affirming support to help you thrive and move forward. Build a network and a community that is balanced between experts you can trust, people who can give you support, and those you can support in return.
Networking for Therapists with an Online Community
In a highly demanding field and in an increasingly growing competitive industry, networking is a vital tool for therapists to build connections and forge new connections.
The fruits of your labor and the advantages of networking might not always be obvious right away. Trust that as your network grows, the possibility that you will eventually benefit from your connections — whether directly or indirectly — increases. The most fruitful networking connections are those that are mutually beneficial to both you and to those around you.
To that end, I invite you to join a caring community where people support one another. With a solid network at your fingertips, you can make a positive impact in the world. Check out our Cooperative, where we strive to be one of the most reliable and supportive referral sources for therapists. We offer a nationwide community where you can make new contacts, obtain vetted recommendations, and find answers to many of your questions about running a private practice.
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