There are about 8,000+ ways you can grow your private practice.
The general feeling that results from learning this is overwhelm. Underscoring again: overwhelm is normal, and you are not alone.
I recommend keeping the following in mind when thinking about marketing your practice to maintain perspective, groundedness, and focus:
Networking and marketing absolutely function in a reciprocal manner. What I mean by that is the more you give, generally, the more you receive.
Giving and receiving is not always a 50/50, black-and-white relationship. You cannot necessarily expect to receive a specific amount of money back for every dollar you spend. Sometimes, things like feeling supported, learning, and growing personally are benefits as well, which are difficult to put a price tag on.
On occasion, this concept can lead to feelings of resentment or burnout. Be careful to be mindful of your boundaries. You can even set a concrete limit on what you’re open to giving to proactively refrain from surpassing your limits.
If you do have capacity to give after checking in with yourself, trust that what you give will come back to you.
I recommend expecting that most of what you give will not come back immediately. This will reduce feelings of resentment or failure. Practice reminding yourself that you are investing in growing your practice, you are not giving $1 to receive $2 just yet. Give for the sake of giving. Write that blog post and trust that the impact will come back. Help out a colleague in their time of need and trust they’ll do the same for you.
There is no “right” or “wrong” branding, keywords, networking, or marketing. There is only what is right for you, and for the clients who you’d be most compatible with.
Do not copy specifically what successful colleagues are doing word for word. If what they are doing is working, it is likely because they are sharing in a way that is authentic with their perspective, voice, and training.
You need to find your voice. Once you do, or if you already have (which is often the hardest part), speak to that. The clients who you will be most compatible with will hear you.
You may have heard the common phrase that you cannot pour from an empty glass.
One of the intentions of marketing and networking is to grow your community so that you can help more people and fill your practice.
Ultimately, if you burn out in the process, even if your networking and marketing is successful, you will not be able to help the people who come your way. They will experience your burn out, and they will leave, which will negate all of your hard work.
Be sure to take care of yourself first. You want to ensure that when people do come your way (and they will!), you are your whole self, and you are ready to receive them.
Along the lines of the above, when we begin to learn about networking and marketing, we are easily overwhelmed by the multitude of options available and how much time and resources they can require.
My advice is to be honest with yourself and start small. Commit to doing something that sounds so easy it would be ridiculous not to do it. Add bit by bit, and as you begin to gain more experience with a particular tool, choose whether you’d like to continue in that direction, or choose something else.
For some of us, gathering data is not our strong suit. When making decisions, however, particularly regarding how we spend our valuable time and energy, data can be very valuable.
When you choose the 1 or 2 things you are going to do to network and grow your practice, I recommend being mindful of things like the following:
If any given thing is either deeply not resonating with you emotionally, or making little to no impact on your business, you have the freedom to let it go and try something else.
I do recommend investing a few months (even as long as one year or more) into any given channel. As you have likely experienced in the therapeutic work itself, networks take time to build and take even more time to “work.”
When you have found the 1 or 2 channels that do work for you, that bring you value either emotionally or financially (often both), say no to everything else.
Of course, if you have infinite time, energy, and resources to invest in all of the tools, you can invest in as many as you like. However, if you are limited on time, energy, or resources, I recommend choosing the channels that do really work for you and to commit to those. As they are each relatively time consuming, it is infinitely better to do 1 thing really well that to do 10 things haphazardly.
It can be tempting once we hit our client goal to throw our hands up in the air and abruptly stop networking and community building, eager to use our time in other ways.
It is always helpful, both emotionally and financially, to keep building your community. Our work is fluid and our caseloads frequently change. Moreover, our work can be lonely, and there are personal benefits to building community that surpass connecting with new clients.
You absolutely should adjust the exact amount of time and energy you are investing at any given time, but I recommend budgeting to never turn community building completely off.
Thanks for your reading attention! Now that we’ve covered the key principles, we cover specific strategies to grow your therapy practice in our next post.
Match with the *right* clients for your practice while growing your professional community.
Alyssa Petersel, Co-Founder and CEO of My Wellbeing and author of Somehow I Am Different, graduated from Northwestern University in 2013 with dual BA degrees in psychology and international studies, graduated summa cum laude from New York University in May 2017 with her Master's in Social Work, and graduated from The Writer's Institute non-fiction program at CUNY Graduate Center in May 2017. A native New Yorker, Alyssa now lives in Brooklyn and enjoys running, coffee, community, and social justice.