Here on the blog I often speak to the importance for dentists to engage in social media and online marketing. New modern tactics like these are essential for dentists to keep their marketing fresh and relevant. With that being said, a solid marketing plan includes a mix of new and old methods. And nothing can replace the value of professional networking.
Many dentists shy away from networking. Their reasons (ahem, excuses) range from not wanting to be too “sales-y” to simply not understanding the importance of networking.
No amount of advertising can replace face-to-face communication. Fostering relationships with fellow dentists, specialists, other healthcare providers and even other business owners is a way to market your practice and stay in touch with the local community.
Networking does not have to be cheesy or phony. Instead, approach networking as an opportunity to meet other business professionals with the same goal in mind – to grow their business.
Here are few ways for dentists to jumpstart their professional network:
- Start with the familiar. Be sure to be an active member of your college and dental school alumni associations. Re-establish relationships with your dental school mates. Even if they are not nearby, you never know where a referral may come from.
- Join, or re-engage, with professional associations. On the national level, check out the ADA website for any upcoming seminars or events. Be sure to look closer to home at state or local components.
- If there are not any local opportunities, create one of your own and bring together other like-minded healthcare professionals. Host a study club or a cross-specialty workshop for patients with other doctors, for instance a dermatologist or pediatrician.
- Include website addresses of your contacts within your practice website. Create a reciprocal page, “Our Medical Community”, with links to other websites of your contacts.
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Professional networking is now online. LinkedIn is the most popular site for professionals looking to increase their network. Facebook and Twitter are obviously ideal for engaging with patients, but to connect with other professionals Linkedin is your best bet.
In the end, if you are not talking about your practice, who will be? Operating a successful dental practice is not just about quality patient care. Meeting people and establishing professional relationships must be an element of your dental marketing plan.