QA Prep recently featured “Building Community, Not Competition” as their “Best of” Series. So I wanted to start by sharing a link to that interview. Its a reminder for all of us that together, we can do it!

Go ahead, CLICK HERE and then come back to read the rest of this post.

Given our profession, most of us thrive in the one-on-one interactions, but not all of us feel comfortable in larger groups. The word NETWORKING stirs up terror for many of us. Sign us up for a networking event and some of us would rather sort our socks, revisit our to-do list, binge-watch our favorite show or even stalk an old crush online. I’m not telling which of these I have ever indulged in, but you’re welcome to guess!

Wondering how to network without having to surrender the safety of smaller dyadic and triadic interactions? Here are 5 possibilities that will ease you into community-building in ways that feel authentic and nourishing. No sale pitch, no scripts, just good old-fashioned connection!

private practice resourcesNot an email, not a text or a voicemail, but one of those old-fashioned note cards with a postal address and a stamp. Trust me, the joy of reading your note, no matter how tidy or messy your handwriting is, will stay with the reader for a good long time. I am a total sucker for handwritten notes!
We know how hard you work, and yes, we get paid, and yes, our clients sometimes send thank you notes. But when a colleague reaches out to acknowledge your hard work, your contribution to healing and wellness, it makes a world of difference.

private practice resourcesThis may seem very simple, but when we reach out to our colleagues regarding their areas of expertise, we continue to build community and goodwill. The internet is a wealth of information, but trusting the wisdom and experience of a seasoned colleague can enrich your community and improve your own clinical competence, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help.Don’t just ask for a referral, ask if someone has specialized knowledge, tools, experience or clinical competence and schedule a consult or a meal to learn more.

Occasionally, I like to pay for an hour of consultation with an experienced colleague as a way to learn something new. By paying for consultation I am respecting a colleague’s expertise through financial means. Free peer consults are very important and affordable (free!) but paying for consultation when needed can be one small way in which we can spread the message of abundance and adequate remuneration through our field.

network through community buildingYou know that annoying challenge where we wish we were practicing as much self-care as we preach to our clients. Nip that problem in the bud!
Ping three of your colleagues who work near you and set up a regular walk-schedule. Organize a weekend hike for your local chapter of therapists or maybe a monthly self-care luncheon, yoga class, knitting circle, or anything else that feels like good self-care for you.
Although the self-care itself (should and) will take longer than 5, you can get it going by spending 5 minutes on a phone call, email or text! And you’ll find a more relaxed way of engaging with other colleagues – networking, without the pressure of having to network!

network through community buildingIf you’re in private practice, you already know that it can be isolating. So choose something, anything you’re doing and create a collaboration around it. Maybe its an article you’re writing, a conference proposal you’d like to submit, a consult group you’d like to put together – invite a colleague to collaborate with you on this task. Perhaps there’s a book you’d like to read in a  group with others so that the richness of the discussion can nourish you; this way, you can combine collaboration and self-care and clinical competence with networking!

network through community buildingIf you’re a therapist, then you’re a people-person in one form or another. So chances are you know lots of professionals. And without a doubt, some of them might benefit from knowing each other. Consider connecting two professionals who have similar areas of interest, or specialization, or might benefit from referring to each other. And ask if either of them has any colleagues that they would like to introduce you, so as to expand your community.

Networking does not have to feel like entering the lion’s den. When we find congruent ways to engage with others, we feel nourished by the interactions and our practice flourishes as well. If you read this post, then perhaps you have 5 more minutes to take action on 1 item: Send a quick note of appreciation to a colleague, or get your self-care group together. Take one step forward, you never know where it might lead!