October, 2015

Create Community and Watch Your Practice Flourish

By Kelley Mulhern, DC

Many health care providers, chiropractors included, are fortunate to enjoy the freedom and independence of owning their own businesses. However, the constant demands can lead to a lonely and isolating experience unless you make an effort to get out of your office. Let's discusses a few different ways you can create your own supportive community of like-minded practitioners which, in turn, can help build your practice.

One-on-One

A personal meeting with other practitioners is a fantastic way to learn more about them and their practices. Here are some tips to make the process both smooth and productive:

  1. Make a list of providers you'd like to get to know better, then invite one or two people a month to meet with you. (For a more relaxed atmosphere, consider coffee or lunch. You can either go "Dutch" or you can pick up the tab. It's a small price to pay for the potential exposure.) If you have the first meeting on neutral ground, subsequent meetings can be held at each of your practices for "show-and-tell."
  2. Ask questions! Show genuine interest in them and their profession by asking questions and paying attention to the answers. (Take notes if you need to.) Some questions to get you started include the following:
    • What inspired you to choose your career?
    • How long have you been in practice?
    • How do you help patients (specifically)? Special techniques, supplements, etc.?
    • What kinds of patients or conditions do you excel at managing?
    • What kinds of patients or conditions do you refer out?
    • What is your preferred referral process?
    • What makes you feel comfortable referring your patients to another provider?
  3. Listen and ask follow-up questions depending on their responses. Make sure you're prepared to answer any of their questions.
  4. Follow-up with a brief note of thanks or appreciation for the time they spent with you.

community - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Mastermind Group

One of the most well-known types of networking groups, a mastermind, commonly includes 4-10 members. The members can belong to one profession or several professions. Meetings are held biweekly or monthly and last 2-3 hours. The format is extremely flexible, and the meetings can be constructed to meet the needs and personalities of those involved.

  1. Logistics: Where and when will the first meeting be? Will refreshments be provided? Who'll take minutes?
  2. Make a list of peers you respect and trust – those with whom you'd be comfortable brainstorming.
  3. Invite them to join your mastermind group. (Be clear on their commitment of time and resources.)
  4. At the first meeting, allow 15-30 minutes of social time; then:
    • Go around the room and have each person briefly introduce themselves and share a recent win/success. This sets a positive tone and helps establish rapport. (This step can be eliminated in future meetings if participants just want to get to work.)
    • Next, go around the room and have each person share a challenge they're facing. The group can brainstorm and offer suggestions for resolution.
    • Finally, go around the room one last time and have each person share another win; this ends the meeting on a high note.
  5. Determine the frequency, location(s), dates, time, etc., of subsequent meetings. Establish a way for the group to communicate with each other between meetings (phone / email list, Facebook group, etc.).

Practitioner's Circle

(Thanks go to Jeremy Werner, LAc, of Tucson, Ariz., for this idea!) The PC is similar to a mastermind group in many ways. However, where the mastermind is a small group often focusing on members of one profession, the PC excels in bringing practitioners of various disciplines together. Additionally, it's a great way to learn more about healing professions other than your own, which can benefit you and your patients!

  1. Logistics. Where and when will the first meeting be? Will refreshments be provided? Who'll take minutes?
  2. Make a list of various health care providers. If you're not sure what resources are in your local area, look in the Yellow Pages, local magazines or online. There's no real limit on the number of participants – whatever you're comfortable with or works for your space.
  3. Call or email to invite them to attend a PC. (Be clear on their commitment of time and resources.) Remind them to bring plenty of business cards.
  4. At the first meeting, allow 15-30 minutes of social time; then:
    • Go around the room and have each person introduce themselves, their practice and their discipline. (The length of time allotted will depend on how many people are present. You may wish to limit it to 1 minute per person, 5 minutes, or whatever works for your group.)
    • Next, go around the room and have each person share a challenge they're facing. The group can brainstorm and offer suggestions for resolution. Alternatively, you can focus the group's time on those with the greatest need. Simply ask who has an issue they'd like the group to help with. It can be something as simple as opinions on a new business card or brochure, all the way up to ideas to break through a patient's plateau (HIPAA compliant, of course).
  5. Determine the frequency, location(s), dates, time, etc., of subsequent meetings. Establish a way for the group to communicate with each other between meetings (phone / email list, Facebook group, etc.).

Take the Initiative

If you find yourself in your office and isolated, make a change! Look for ways to become involved with your local health care community. If your options are limited, take the initiative and create a forum for health care professionals to come together to support and encourage each other. (Remember, the above options work best when individual participants are respectful and truly committed to helping each other succeed. If you find that's not the case, you may consider adding a screening or referral process.)

Use these ideas as a starting point and modify them to fit your needs, personality, profession and region. They can be powerful tools to provide support, promote intellectual and financial growth, and enhance the well-being of your patients. Get out of your office and get started connecting!


Dr. Kelley Mulhern (formerly Kelley Pendleton) is a chiropractor, healthcare marketing consultant, professional speaker, and the author of Community Connections! Relationship Marketing for Healthcare Professionals. For more information or to download free materials, please visit www.dr-kelley.com.



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