Many small business owners attest to the benefits of networking as a means to introduce their services to the market, attract new clients, and build connections with potential partners – all of these to bring forth growth and stability to their company. Networking is being done in the form of events, workshops, business coffee meet ups, meetings, and talks.
Independent optometrists are no stranger to networking. The simple chance to strike a conversation with a patient during an eye exam is networking. Being an active member of an association about our profession is also called networking. But of course, networking isn’t all that a busy business owner like us do and some of us sometimes put it at bay or even forego it totally. If you are on the brink of giving up on networking then hold it right there. Here are more reasons why you should continue pursuing this helpful marketing tactic plus tips on how to approach networking better for our field.
Networking will give you the chance to promote your own professional brand.
You are the face of your own business for optometrists represent the optical store that they own or work for. The more that patients trust you, the more it is that they will stay loyal and go back to your store for their regular eye checkups and eye care needs. This means that you also have to promote yourself as a reliable eye care professional.
You don’t need to be over the top with this. Excellent service speaks for itself and your patients will most likely spread the word about their experience to their families and friends. Word-of-mouth can do wonders and so before your patient steps out of your optical store, make sure to plant some points about yourself and your practice through a friendly and professional chat. Below are some examples of what to mention to your patient:
- “I am attending a conference on macular degeneration this coming December so please feel free to check with our reception if you are planning to book a schedule on that month or if you need anything else.” This gives your patient an idea that you are continuously innovating as conferences are events where you get to learn more about your practice. At the same time, you are advising them to plan their visit ahead which is good customer service.
- “I’ve had a similar case with a patient before.” This is hinting on experience and will give them more peace of mind as you have already dealt with the same eye health issue with a previous patient of yours.
- “I recommend that you follow this blog for more about eye care.” Patients these days are smart and well informed. They are always on the internet, researching and knowing more about a certain topic including health and eye care. Your patients will appreciate it if you will be able to point them to a good resource. Much better if this resource is yourself. Do you maintain a blog? Better start one now!
Networking connects you to more people who can be valuable to your practice.
“No man is an island.” This quote is also true in business. You will have a better chance of successfully promoting your practice if you have the right connections by your side. These connections can potentially be your:
- business partners
Remember, networking doesn’t stop at when you’re able to tap one person. You can maximise that connection by getting to know other people who are in your contact’s network. One way to do this is through social media.
Capitalising on the power of social media to network is called social networking. It is a network of 2.79 billion people right at your fingertips and they are all spread in different social platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and many more.
Optometrists should leverage on these social media platforms to find out who are in their expanded network or those who might be connected to their direct contacts. Luckily this can be done in Facebook and LinkedIn where you can view basic details about the persons whom your contacts are friends with. You can ask to be introduced by your contact. You can also announce promos in your social media company page where contacts get discounts through referrals.
There are a lot of ways by which you can tap on social media to widen your network. You can also join groups with members who are interested in optometry or who are in the business as you do. You need to be creative and relevant. You need to be willing to interact and assist those who are seeking advice from you.
Networking opens you to a world of opportunities.
What are the opportunities that you can get from networking? These are:
- Invitations to talks and other speaking engagements
- Opportunity to advertise your business
- And many more!
The opportunities that you can bump into an event or trade show or while on social media or by just reconnecting to an old colleague are limitless. Though you need to able to filter the opportunities that are worth your time and effort. Some opportunities might be best for a later time, some might be too expensive, and some are a little far from what you are aiming to achieve. You need to make sure that each opportunity that you will choose to grab and pursue is aligned to your overall marketing and business goals.
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