Well did you know all the principles of networking offline also apply to networking online?
It’s important to include online networking as part of your overall Internet marketing plan, because the relationships you develop online can be just as valuable as the relationships you develop offline.
Personally, I’ve had lots of opportunities come my way from online networking that have helped me build my business.
Some of the benefits I’ve experienced from online networking include:
- invitations to present at online conferences that were broadcast to a global audience
- invitations to write for recognised online magazines and blogs
- requests from journalists to be interviewed for well-known and established magazines
- receiving paid work for joint venture projects with other therapists and coaches
- attracting coaching clients from countries other than Australia
- receiving subcontracting jobs for website development work and social media consulting
- the ability to interview world-renowned therapists for Australia Counselling
All these opportunities would not have happened if it wasn’t professionals getting to know me through conversations online.
While I can’t say any of these activities have led directly to getting more therapy clients, it’s safe to assume that it has lead to getting more clients indirectly. Plus, I have earned income for the other streams of my business that I would not have earned without having an online presence.
Your online networks can help to grow your counselling business
I believe that many of the opportunities I have experienced came about because I was able to build relationships with people online. And over time, these people began to know, like and trust me. They actually started to get a sense of who I am as a person and as a professional.
The other thing about online networking is it is an ethical approach to marketing and connecting with other professionals. You’re in no danger of breaching any ethical guidelines by having professional conversations in the public arena.
Across the world, people are networking with each other every day. It’s in these professional conversations that you can connect with like-minded people and begin the process of getting to know them and them getting to know you.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality
One of the ongoing issues I see many counsellors and therapists experience is about the dilemma of how much to reveal of themselves.
This dilemma partly comes about because we are trained to focus on the experience, wants and needs of our clients. We know that it’s unethical to use the therapeutic process for our own gain or purpose.
Sadly, this often runs over into how I see counsellors interact and network online. They can be very fearful of revealing anything personal about themselves.
As I mentioned in an earlier part, you do need to develop your own boundaries online of what you are and are not comfortable with revealing.
Personally, I reveal very little about my personal life and nothing about my clinical work or how my day or week is going with clients. I use the ‘coffee shop test’ to filter what I say online, and so far, this has kept me safe from any ethical issues arising in the 3-4 years I have been on social media and developing an online presence.
The reason it’s important to reveal something of your personality online is because people want to connect with real people.
It’s through your colleagues getting some sense of your personality that they can better relate to you. And the better the relationships you build online, the more that you and your counselling business will gain attention and visibility on the Internet.
How to network on the Internet
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- make sure all your social media profiles are completely filled out with clear contact information about you and your business
- connect with other therapists on LinkedIn and post interesting information on a regular basis
- join some LinkedIn groups that are areas of clinical interest to you
- interact on Facebook using your Facebook business page to increase the visibility of your counselling business
- start your own closed Facebook or LinkedIn group for your peers to join and share resources and knowledge
- follow other therapists on Twitter and create dedicated Twitter lists for them
- be friendly to other therapists on Google+ and LinkedIn and start interesting conversations
- comment on the blogs of other therapists and add value to the conversation
I hope you’re getting an idea of what might be possible. This is only a beginning and you can brainstorm about many other strategies to meet and connect with like-minded professionals online.
A word about content curation
I’ve already spoken about content curation in an earlier part of this series, but it’s worth mentioning again.
Don’t discount the power of sharing interesting, informative and engaging content that your peers can benefit from.
Sharing great content is an excellent way to get the attention of other professionals. It’s also a great way to position yourself as someone who is passionate about a niche you want to be known for.
Over time, other professionals will associate the content you share with what and who you work with. And this then benefits your overall business branding. You start to get know as the ‘go to’ person for [insert area of passion.]
Are you getting a sense of what’s possible online?
I certainly hope so.
My intention is not to overwhelm you, but rather to inspire you to explore and experiment with building your own online presence using many of the amazing tools and incredible technology that the Internet is providing us.
The Internet is not something to be afraid of, but rather something to educate yourself about, so you can ethically market your counselling services in a way where you maintain your own integrity, as well as share your passion for what you do.
Happy exploring! And let me know how you get on.
Founder of Australia Counselling
P.S. Did you get here via a link from a friend, or Twitter? We’ve got a lot more to share with you, including interviews with therapists, professional development presentations, marketing training and live Q & A calls to support you in growing your counselling business.
All this is to let you know about Australia Counselling and how it can help your counselling business grow. It’s the only membership site in Australia that teaches you how to effectively market your own practice, as well as lists you on a counselling directory.
If you’re not already a member, why not sign up now? You’ll have immediate access to over 20 hours of professional development videos and marketing training. We hope to support you and your counselling business.