Starting a counseling practice is quite the journey. Along the way you will have a lot of opportunities and get a lot of suggestions about how to build your practice, not all of them will be effective or ethical.
Should you pay people to talk about your business?
If you go into Fiverr.com and some other places, you will see that there are offers to do five star reviews of your business or practice all over the place. People will create fake video testimonials for you, tweet fake love to you, and SO much more. Some business owners are tempted to take these short cuts- they assume this will be a quick way to connect with their community.
Can you fake a great private practice?
The truth is there is no way to fake a great business and real relationships. Kelly and I are very up front about getting our own business coaching. It has been one of the most powerful things we have done for our business. We often go outside of the circle of therapists for coaching ZynnyMe, because we want to think outside the box.
One question we've heard from our business coaches over and over again is: Why did that person do that for you? How did you "get them" to do that? Whether it is sharing about our events to big lists of therapists, or giving us shout outs online- they are often curious as to how that happened- or how much we paid to make that happen.
We care about people and build relationships- and that shows. It shines through. I've been supporting pre-licensed and licensed therapists for coming on 10 years now with a free online study group and blog for pre-licensed therapists, done trainings all over the place for free, and freely shared awesome stuff when I found it. I've done hundreds (if not thousands) of free coaching sessions with pre-licensed and licensed therapists on every aspect of the process of becoming successful- from gathering hours, to passing exams, to launching a private practice.
When you build relationships, when you truly let people know your heart, and you get to know theirs- you very rarely even have to ask for someone to share what you are doing. They will share because they love it, are excited, want to help, etc.
We've gotten several messages from therapists around the world who've been asked- how much is ZynnyMe paying you to talk about them all the time? When you focus first on deeply helping people- the rest comes.
How to get people raving about you
The truth is, we didn't always wake up to rave reviews and shout outs on line. Here are some tips to start building a great online reputation (and great referral sources):
Get to know other people first. Reach out and ask about what others do. Truly try to understand their businesses, their heart, and what they are passionate about.
Look for ways to support what other people are doing if it is something amazing in the world and you have built trust with them.
NEVER support something that you don't believe in. Your integrity is not worth ever getting behind something that you aren't comfortable with. Yes- things may change- you might learn more about this person- that happens- but if your gut says no- it is no!
Learn how to articulate one thing you are truly passionate about. You might think using the shotgun approach and rapid firing ALL of your passions is the best way to make a connect- but it isn't... Be clear, concise, and convey your heart. Just sharing a well rehearsed tagline isn't enough.
Be a bit transparent. Relax into the realness of who you are and allow people to get a few glimpses. Many of us are VERY well trained at keeping a clinical distance. In building relationships with others in the world- we need to rethink whether that is effective.
Be nice offline and online. We've had some of our followers and clients verbally attacked for sharing about us. We've had people who have never met us, never reached out to us, who don't know our stories make huge assumptions and spread rumors and ickiness online. The truth is, these actions reflected more on them then they did on us. Our business continues to flourish because we keep our eye on what matters- helping our community!
Presume positive intent. This is one of my favorite lessons of all time. Until I find out otherwise- I presume that people have positive intent. I trust my intuition but I don't immediately start looking for the catch or the hook. Of course, that doesn't mean I fall for scams. Remember- you have great judgment- use it.
I hope this helps you consider ways to build a great following or referral sources and get people raving about what you do- online and offline. Share below your recommendation for building strong relationships. You might still pay for some advertising- but you won't ever be tempted to pay someone who doesn't know you to try to say you are great!