By Ally Stoeger, OD
Attend community business networking groups and you will meet a variety of business people. What’s the worst way to network your practice at a business event? To just talk about what a great practice you have (and watch people glaze over).
A better method of networking your business at a business event is to be curious and conversational about what the people you are meeting do in their business.
But the very best way to engage people who could become active referrers to your practice is to hire local business people whenever you can.
I’m a local patriot. It’s important to me that I spend my money in a way that supports my community. The best way to do that is to support local business people. Now, if you expect immediate referrals from people whose services you use, you will be disappointed. But over time, it can be very, very effective. Recently at a business event I met Kristin Long, owner of Organizational Specialists.
After a brief conversation, I realized Kristin offered a unique service that could provide substantial benefits to my practice. Of course, part of me was thinking: is it smart to spend money on something that is not a necessity? The bills are already so high! Ultimately, I decided to try her services because I realized that even if the service she would provide is not something that would make a big difference for my practice, the fact that Kristin is a local professional could provide a benefit in terms of her getting to know my office.
Every square inch of my somewhat limited office space has to be utilized effectively. As it turns out, Kristin has provided great suggestions and is delightful to work with. She’s smart, creative and brings a refreshing “outside the industry” approach to organization issues we face in my practice.
Not only are her ideas improving the appearance of my office, but there is no question in my mind that improved organization reduces stress. In fact, I like Kristin’s services (and stress reduction) so much that I have also hired her to help me get my home office organized.
Of course, it’s my hope that in addition to improving my practice organization, Kristin will also be an enthusiastic advocate for my practice. If that happens, not only will my practice function more effectively, but this articulate, highly respected professional, may be able to refer friends and acquaintances. Truly a win-win.
To make money you have to spend money. And one of the best ways to spend your money is to use local talent to improve and advocate for your practice.
Do you support other local businesses? How do you do that, and what successes have you experienced using their services?
Ally Stoeger, OD, was a founding and managing partner of a multi-doctor practice and has recently opened a new practice in Gainesville, Va. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.