Many colleagues in private practice have suggested to me, “Don’t spend too much time on promotions like brochures and fancy business cards because you will get the majority of your clients through word of mouth.” I believe that this is good advice, however, word of mouth must start somewhere. Here are a few of my ideas about how to promote oneself as a counsellor/therapist opening a new private practice and to set in motion word of mouth.
I think it begins with connecting with the leaders in the community. These leaders may be in churches, cultural organizations, and social service agencies. For my purposes, I plan to build relationships with doctors in neighborhood clinics, school counsellors, and community association leaders who are part of my target regions. I think that it makes sense to concentrate time and effort connecting with groups and individuals who may become regular sources of referrals.
First, counsellors are skilled in building relationships, and so we are going to be much more effective meeting with people in person rather than relying on printed forms of media to convey who we are. Second, by meeting leaders in the community, we are more likely to get a sense of the needs of the community and can be proactive in what we offer. For example, we may find out that offering an information night to parents about depression could open doors to getting new clients. Third, I also think that taking time to meet these leaders demonstrates a willingness to engage and become involved in the community. And that speaks volumes, don’t you think?
This takes me back to the useful advice that many have shared with me. I believe that brochures, business cards, and websites all serve useful purposes and add credibility to a new private practice and so I would like to revise the advice written at the beginning of this blog. Take time to create the website, business cards, and any other promotional material, so that when you make connections in the community you are leaving them with two essential things: a personal impression of who you are and useful information to pass along to potential clients.