Being your own boss can be a lonely world, even when you get to work with clients. That’s why one of the most important steps to take as a practitioner is to build your network. Your connections may be essential for supporting your business. But more importantly, they will also support your sanity.
One of my talents is that I am a born networker. There’s a good chance that if I don’t know someone who can help someone I know with something, I know somebody who does know someone!
So that’s why I thought I’d share some of my top tips for how to build your network.
How To Build Your Network To Support Your Business And Sanity
Remember: networking is about value exchange – not selling one another
I think this is essential to keep in mind. While some networking groups out there might disagree and proudly ‘push’ one another’s services, it just feels icky to me.
While you can absolutely promote and support each other, it doesn’t need to be a case of ‘I sent you two clients so you owe me two clients in return’. Instead, focus on how you can offer each other value and support.
Someone might not know anyone who is your ideal client, but they do have a connection at an event you want to hold a stall at. Or maybe they know a great web designer who will do you a deal because you’re connected with them.
So how do you build your network in the first place?
Find your local buddies
Unless you are in a town of less than 50 people, there is a local network waiting to be weaved. So go looking, and see who is out there!
In my world, it’s collaboration not competition, so local pracs and connections are your most powerful network. They already know plenty of people who might fall into your ideal audience.
If you want, start small – Google to see who is around, then reach out to those you feel you would connect with. Meet up for a coffee or kombucha at the local cafe, go in with zero expectations, and see what blooms from there.
Get into online groups
There are many faults with social media these days. But one of the best things that did come out of it was the wide variety of online groups out there.
Online groups such as those you find on Facebook are a great way to build your network. It can take a little time to get the hang of them, but it does pay off for many people. It gives you the opportunity to grow your reputation as a practitioner in your niche, but you can also connect with like-minded businesses and people.
Online groups are a particularly good fit for those on the introverted side, because it feels safer than approaching strangers in person. So if you’ve been avoiding building a network because you’re shy, start with the online groups.
My favourite practitioner-based group is the Natupreneur Hub, run by the lovely Tammy Guest. In terms of a more general business-oriented group, you’ll always find me in the Heart-Centred, Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group.
Offer support where you can
Sure, it’s nice to build your network as a way to support you. But some of the best connections you can make come when you are the one offering support.
When you offer help to someone, whether it’s referring them to a practitioner you know or recommending a service you’ve used before, they are more likely to remember you. And people who remember you are more likely to suggest you to future clients and connections.
So pay it forward, support others, and reap the benefits in the future!
Don’t neglect ‘outsiders’
I know it can be tempting to just stick to your own kind. But some of the most valuable people for you to build your network around aren’t health practitioners at all.
Making connections with people with similar values but completely different professions can be incredibly powerful. Some of my best and strongest connections include my lawyer and my graphic designer.
I also have some amazing connections with people who are still studying their modality. In fact, their questions and their interest in my work has inspired me to start running workshops for student practitioners!
Start your own network
Feeling brave? Throw your own meetups and gatherings!
This might not be a fit for the introverts – but then again, it might be. Starting up your own local meetups means that you get to say where you meet, when you meet, what the rules are (e.g. whether you can spruik your services or not), and what the goals of the group are.
I’m in the process of gathering together the Eastern Praccie Meetup group, and I also run semi-regular meetups with another business group I participate in. It’s a great way to meet new people, new relationships form, and people remember me as the person who can connect everyone!
This one actually combines well with online groups, because it also builds and strengthens the connections already made online.
Consider a mentor who can help you build a network
There are plenty of business mentors and coaches in the wellness space with vast networks. If you are already thinking about seeking out coaching or mentoring, now is the time to take action.
For example, I mentor prospective health writers. Thanks to my connections, one of the people I’ve mentored is now getting paid to write weekly articles for an Australian brand! But if he had not already been working with me on building himself up as a writer, I would never have known to connect him with the brand’s CEO.
Mentors and coaches also fall under the category of keeping you sane, so it’s a worthwhile investment to make.
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