Networking is an important part of any business. Some people think that this is just a suit and tie tactic for big business, but it can take you places you never knew in your small business. Opportunity awaits around every conversation.
When I first started my birth business I went out to network with everyone. I knew knowing other people in my community would give me more opportunities. I started with the typical ones they tell you to in all those birth trainings, but then I went outside the box and started to get creative. You never know where you might find that one person that is going to change your business forever. You never know when you might talk to someone who get you another client. This is something I still do today and you would be surprised at the connections I have made in the most unlikely places.
Here are 5 Professional Connections you can make right now to help you get more clients:
1. Other Birth Professionals
Connecting with other birth professionals may seem counter intuitive, because they are the competition right? Yes and No. They may be competing with you for business, but 1) There is enough business to go around for everyone, 2) Not every client is a perfect fit for every birth worker, and 3) They may offer a completely service than they do.
Other birth professionals understand what you do and many of them offer complementary services to yours.
Think about who your ideal client may want services from along with yours. This can include doula, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, yoga instructor, birth photographer, midwife, childbirth educator, herbalist, or any other birth professional you can think of.
Referrals work both ways. Think about it in terms of what can I do for you and not always what can you do for me. Refer people and they will be more likely to refer clients back to you in the future. Ask them for their business cards or information on their business so you can give it to your clients.
2. Local Business Whom Your Ideal Client Use
Local businesses are where your ideal client is already at. They may have nothing to do with your business or your industry but they likely also serve your target market. Seek to offer value to their customers in trade for collaboration. Ask if you can leave some coupons for your services at their place of business. Think coffee shop, laundry mat, grocery store.
This is a great place to build strategic relationships. For example, if you are a doula think about stores that sell baby goods such as Babies R Us. You might offer to teach some workshop their relating to newborn care or breastfeeding. Don’t try to sell them anything or get them to promote your services. Just seek to provide value.
3. Local Go-To’s
There are always going to be those in the community who others seek advice. This can be the local community or the industry community. There might be a popular natural parenting blogger or the owner of a local birth page you should look into connecting with. Some of the more popular businesses are used to other people trying to use their platform to get attention so be respectful and tactful when and how you approach them. Is there a podcast you can get a guest interview on? Is there a local event you can get a spotlight at?
Use this as a mentorship opportunity for yourself as well. Use these connections that you make in order to learn more about what your ideal clients really want. Always be trying to add value to the community and not just seek promotion.
4. Local Events
Look for local events that cater to your ideal client. Look into who is hosting these events and make a connection with them. If it is an event you are interested in see if you can help. If it is a local professional who offers the same services as you be careful. You don’t want to try to take business away from them.
Even if you are not a part of the event you can still get on the ground floor if those hosting these events know who you are and trust you. You never know how many people they may send your way.
5. Medical Professionals
This is the one they always tell you to go check out in those training workshops. It can be a good resource if you find the right people. Not all medical professionals will want to build a relationship with you. They may have different beliefs about the type of professional you are. Unfortunately, some medical professionals have a negative view on alternative birth professionals who are not in the medical field.
OBs, Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, and other birth related medical professionals are only able to spend a limited amount of time with their patients. You may be able to help bridge that gap with the right professional and offer training, education, or support to their patients to help their birth experience.
Share resources about the benefits you offer with a medical provider that has similar views on birth, whom you admire, and whom you are interested in building a relationship with. This can not only turn into a great place for referrals, but may also create awareness for your services that others may not even know existed.
Step out of your comfort zone and go seek some connections this week. You never know what opportunities it may bring your way. All it takes is one phone call, one email, or one face-to-face to begin a relationship that can change everything.
About the Author
As a seasoned birth worker and business major I wanted to take my two passions and combine them into one. Over the last seven years I continue to push myself to learn more and give more to those around me.