Looking for Patients Who Can Easily Afford Their Care?
By Honora Lee Wolfe, Dipl. Ac.
Here's an idea. Dust off your best suit or evening clothes (or rent a tux) and attend the next charity ball or dinner in your community. This is one of the best ways to meet the "who's who" in your town, but be forewarned: it is not for the faint of heart.
First, it may cost you upwards of $200 for dinner that night. However, if you are sitting next to the mayor; a few attorneys; city council members; or the head of the hospital women's auxiliary, fairly quickly the conversation will turn to, "And what do you do for a living?" Where else would you get to have such a conversation with these potential patients, unless you play golf in the local country club fund-raising tournaments? (If you're a golfer, by the way, you should do that, too!)
Second, you need to have a smooth "elevator speech" (one minute max) about who you are and what you do. You also need to be able to act "easy on your feet" when people start to ask you questions.
Make sure you get there for the cocktail hour. Circulate. Give out business cards, and collect cards from other people (if possible). Be interested in what people say to you. Make eye contact. Ask intelligent questions. Give intelligent answers. Don't act, look, or sound "new age-y." Then, slip into the last seat at the table of the most affluent-looking group.
If you don't have the money for the price of the dinner or gala, offer to work the registration desk, lick envelopes, or make phone calls in exchange for the ticket. If there is a silent auction, offer a free consultation and treatment as an auction item. If you are working at the event, "work" the event. Be a relentless flirt. If you are physically, emotionally or intellectually attractive, you will be surprised at how many contacts you will be able to create.
So, where do you find out about such events? Check the society pages of your newspapers, then do your research carefully. You'll want to attend events that may draw people from related industries. Your local hospital, for instance, probably has a charity ball or other similar event. Find out who runs the steering committee and call that person to volunteer. If you specialize in treating a specific niche or segment of people in your community (athletes, musicians, etc.), perhaps there are fundraisers for music education or athletic education. Those are the events you want to find, and figure out a way to attend.
Since some people will not carry business cards, being on the steering committee or working the registration desk will allow you to collect names that you can follow up with later. Before you go to the festivities, hone your memory skills so that you can remember as many names as possible.
After the event, send out a "thank-you" card to everyone you met, thanking them for their participation. Let the attendees know you'd be happy to help them if they ever have a health problem, or they want to see if acupuncture can improve their athletic performance, help them play the violin faster, (or whatever appropriate statement for this person or this group may be), and include a business card. Do this before they forget that they met you.
As I always tell my students, everyone - even rich people - becomes somebody's patient some day. Why shouldn't they be yours?
You may not perceive yourself as the "charity ball socialite" type, but it is true that you will very likely only make as much income as your average patient makes. Think about that, then put on your best smile and clothes, and get out there with the folks who can easily afford to pay what you would like to charge.
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