Opening your new practice is so exciting! You just want to tell everyone about it.
And networking is super important for building your practice.
During my first 6 months of private practice I scheduled so many coffee dates, tea dates, lunch dates, and beer dates (I am in Asheville, you know). And I attended several networking events each month.
It was great! I met so many people in my community.
But I got tired.
I would drive to a networking coffee at 9:30am, return home, only to find that I had to go back out in the afternoon for another networking event I had scheduled.
It was a lot of running around, and it was exhausting – especially for an introvert such as myself. I overscheduled myself in the beginning, and I couldn’t keep up.
I really enjoy networking, so there’s got to be a way that I can continue to network without feeling overwhelmed. I felt as though I could make my schedule more efficient and not spend so much time driving all around the city, so I began to take control of my schedule.
Here are 2 practical scheduling solutions to save your sanity while networking like a boss.
Solution #1: Gain Control Over Your Schedule
Your schedule is yours. Especially when you are in private practice. You get to decide when to schedule your clients, and you can decide when to network.
The first thing that helped me in creating a schedule that worked for me was to schedule time in my calendar for networking 1 to 2 months out. And I only set aside times and places that were convenient for me. Here’s what that looks like:
- I would take out my paper planner and look at my schedule.
- I would take note when I would already be at my office, or when I had another event or appointment scheduled.
- I would then mark off a few times each week that I would be open to networking when it was convenient for me. These times would be before or after sessions with clients, or before or after another scheduled event. For example, if I had an appointment from 10:00am to 11:45am on a Tuesday, I would mark off on my calendar that I had an available networking spot available at 12:00pm in a location near my appointment on that Tuesday.
- When scheduling networking events with colleagues and community members, I would send out a few of my available dates and times for the next couple of weeks. If those dates and times did not work for my potential networking buddy, I would send out dates and times for the week after that, and so on.
Once you set aside your networking schedule, try your best to stick to it.
You know when you opened your practice and said that you would only work 2 evenings? Now you find yourself working 3 or 4 evenings and feeling a little resentful when you have those evening sessions with clients, imagining yourself at home relaxing.
Not sticking to your networking calendar can have the same result. Don’t over-schedule yourself.
You want networking to remain a positive experience because it is so beneficial to your practice.
By being intentional about your networking schedule, you can create a work/life balance that works for you.
If you are super introverted, or have limited time because you are trying to get your practice off the ground while still working an agency job, you may only want to commit to networking 2 to 3 times per month – or even less.
If you have more time in your schedule and enjoy getting out more often, you may set aside 2 or 3 spots per week for networking. There’s no magic number. Do what is most comfortable for you.
Solution #2: Streamline The Scheduling Process
I’m all about making things easier. When you start out doing anything, there’s a learning curve that comes with it. The longer you do something, the more easily you can see how to make the process more efficient.
This was true for getting my networking calendar under control.
Sometimes scheduling can be difficult, and you can spend quite a bit of time sending emails back and forth trying to settle on a date and time for coffee that works for everyone.
I was looking for a scheduling tool to add to my website so that I could take it a step further and share my availability (the availability I marked off in my paper calendar in the tip above) with others publicly. This would take out that step of emailing back and forth with dates to see if something sticks.
In comes CozyCal!
CozyCal is an online scheduling and appointment booking software that can be added to your website. CozyCal has a free and a paid version. I opted for the paid version because of all the great options. It’s completely worth the time saved related to scheduling.
So I login to CozyCal once a month and enter my availability. I usually keep my availability up to two months out to give plenty of options for scheduling.
Now all I need to do is direct people to my website to schedule a time for networking. They click on the CozyCal link, check out my availability, select a date, enter their name and email, and – voila! – our networking date is on the calendar!
If you’re curious as to what my networking calendar looks like, you can check it out on my website here. I have a Connect page, as well as a “Let’s Meet” button at the bottom of each page on my website that will allow you to schedule.
If you would like to make networking easier and get CozyCal for yourself, you can sign up here. To get 10% off of CozyCal’s pro plans, apply the coupon code: MOUNTAIN_PRACTICE. For the monthly plan, you get 10% off for the first 6 months, and for the yearly plan, you get 10% off for the entire year.
Networking is important. So is feeling in control of your schedule. Setting aside time for networking that worked for me was so beneficial to my schedule and my sanity. I hope that you new therapists out there can learn from my mistakes and start out with your networking game on point.
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!
Starting a private practice is a big deal. It's super-exciting and super-scary all at the same time. I created Mountain Practice Journeys to support you through the difficult and muddy terrain, and to celebrate with you when you have reached each summit of the many mountains you will conquer on your journey.
Happy Climbing, Cindy