Recently I was working with a client. He’s an excellent physio, and his story I have heard many times before. He said…
“I know I’m really good at what I do, but I just don’t feel people know who I am.”
Does that sound familiar to you? Do you ever feel that other people are getting loads of patients simply because they are better ‘known’?
So, what can you do about this? How do we go about being ‘known’ in Private Practice?
Decide on a niche.
I’m British, so it’s ‘niche’ not ‘nitch’. By niche, I mean a clinical niche.
You might be thinking…
“Cath, I love treating all kinds of people, can’t I just get on with being a great osteopath? People will come and see me because I’m a great clinician.”
Well, they might, but the problem of not declaring a clinical area that’s ‘your bag’, is that people won’t know to particularly look for you when they have a particular kind of problem.
If I’m a GP looking to refer a patient who’s got endometriosis, I want to know for sure that that person is an expert in endometriosis.
Sometimes we think we’ve got this covered by putting a nice list of several things on our website about what we can treat. You may believe that Google will find you because your website lists the keyword ‘hamstring problems’ (within your list that long list that includes ear problems, nose problems, bum problems and whatever else you can treat).
STOP! You’re making a mistake.
You need to clearly state what it is that you do really, really well.
A patient with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma will want to go and see someone who declares themselves to specialise in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, rather than an oncologist who treats blood problems, lymphomas, and leukaemias in general. Do you get the drift?
Tell people about your niche. Claim it by naming it.
When you’re interacting with people, you need to be able to tell them what you specialise in.
Make your social media consistent with your single message about your niche.
If on your website you say, “I’m a specialist in lymphoma”, but on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook you’ve got all kinds of buzzwords around cancers, blood diseases, blah blah blah blah blah, and you’re not being consistent, you are not going to send across the message that you are the lymphoma expert.
Commit to purposefully connecting rather than randomly networking.
What do I mean about being purposeful? Rather than just turning up at an event and speaking to people in your physical space, think about who the kinds of people who can actually help you with referrals. Find the person who knows who all those people are… the event organiser, and ask them to introduce you to the oncologist, the neurologist, the whatever kind of people that you want to connect with.
Don’t ever be afraid of finding and reaching out to people on LinkedIn.
Make the effort of having a little chat with them, and then make the more significant effort of going and meeting them in person.
Try and do this once a week if you can. It sounds easy, but it may initially feel like hard work.
It might be pouring with rain in February, and you’re thinking why the heck am I trudging through Hendon to go and meet this person?
So Why do it?
I can guarantee that every time you go trudging in the rain, you’ll make clinical buddies with the person you’ve arrange to meet with, and those kinds of relationships lead to happy referral relationships. This is because very few people make an effort to meet in person, and believe me, it pays off.
When you meet with that person, ask them who they would like to be introduced to within your network.
You might think…“Why do I want to waste energy on that, surely it’s about what they can do for me?” Well, isn’t it good manners to serve those the people you’re connecting with?
Also, by connecting them with your network of people, you are reminding those people in your own network about you. That’s a great way to keep those people thinking of you when they have patients that need your treatment. Double bubble!
When you’ve made a huge effort to go and see a connection, don’t forget to follow up.
A lot of the time we go and meet somebody it’s all ‘pop pop pop’, ‘fireworks, fireworks’, ‘great interaction’, and we think to ourselves… “Oh, this is going to be great, we’re going to be able to refer people to each other, etcetera.”
Then two weeks later we’re thinking… “Who was that nice man I met?”
If we neglect to reconnect with them, the buzz fades away, and we are quickly forgotten. Make an effort to reconnect. Set a reminder to yourself a week or two later to send an email. Try and get their phone number and send a text that day if you can and keep that relationship close.
Don’t wait to be asked, offer to speak.
Speaking in front of other clinicians is great, but don’t forget you can talk to patient audiences.
For example, you could approach a sports group or a large corporation who are deeply passionate about employee wellness. Could you share your knowledge of how to look after your ticker when you’re stuck into middle age and you’re working 60 hours a week?
Grow and nurture an email list.
Post GDPR, many people have felt unsure about whether they should be emailing people on their list, and the other half are worried that we shouldn’t be having email lists at all.
It’s entirely possible to have a GDPR legit email list. A list of people, clinicians and patients who are keen to hear what you have to say!
The great thing about an email list is that people get regular contact from you, and you are kept front and centre in their minds. Find ways of developing your email list, getting people to join it, and nurture your following with good regular educational content.
All of these are ways of becoming the familiar go-to person for a particular ‘niche’ problem that needs solving. If you’re struggling with narrowing down and finding your niche don’t struggle…