Networking is an important component of your marketing plan. It is important for two reasons.
Networking Is More Than Just Joining Clubs
Networking seems to be either highly overvalued or undervalued by many practice owners. It is worth doing and it does work but it isn’t the holy grail of practice growth. Networking has grown into a bland, expected image in optometry. It is assumed by most that networking consists exclusively of the traditional tactics such as chamber of commerce meetings, Rotary, Lions, or a dozen other clubs, etc. These things are an important part of networking to be sure, but they are not the only pieces of the networking pie.
The Cardinal Blocks Program
I’ll confess that making networking tactics sexy and new is like making disco seem sexy and new. One idea that puts a slightly new face on networking is something I call the cardinal blocks program. It isn’t rocket science and the Nobel prize committee hasn’t been trying to setup a nomination interview with me but it has one thing going for it: it works well. I’ll admit some limitations up front – this doesn’t work in every location or environment but works in most major large rural to urban locations.
Here is the plan:
- Get a map and locate the block your practice is on
- Define your target areas; these are the blocks adjacent to your block plus your block
- Set a timetable for contacting, in person, every household, business, pedestrian, biker, etc. on those 9 blocks. Make the schedule aggressive but possible.
- Practice what you are going to say when you meet with these folks. My favorite is “Hello, I am doctor McDaniel from the McDaniel Eye Clinic down the street. I just wanted to stop in and meet my fellow neighbors and say hello.” You know, something really unusual and needlessly complicated.
- Go do it.
Just Do It!
Guess where this plan typically fails? You guessed it – step 5. There are only two ways this plan can fail. It will fail if you poorly represent yourself by doing something stupid in front of your neighbors. I can’t fix stupid – you’ll have to fix that on your own. It will also fail if you do step 5 halfheartedly. I can’t fix lazy either. Well, I think I can fix lazy but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet; if I do I will let you know.
John McDaniel, OD, MLHR