For many of you, to reach out and touch someone means to sit down at your favorite electronic media device, place your fingers gingerly on the keys and send a quick e-mail or text message to a friend or family member.
Now you have reached out and given a cyber touch to someone else, if you will.
Seldom do we meet new people through this means of communication, but we all use it and wonder why it doesn't work for building a practice. According to Ruth Beth Moss of Harvard Business School, "All successful businesses are built on rich personal relationships." This means that someone who is going to refer to you must know you or your reputation. They also have to believe in the intervention that you are going to use in your treatment and they must trust you, something that is built over a period of time. This process also results in mutual respect.
Web sites are an important part of the marketing program for a practice, but it is not the first choice. Web-based information can help to build credibility, and it also tells those searching or surfing the Web about the benefits of your treatments. People become aware of your treatments when they are searching the Web for information on their symptoms and (eventually) treatment.
However, reaching out and touching someone personally is still the best method for building a relationship. Ask yourself, "What does acupuncture do?" Then brainstorm some ways of developing personal relationships beyond the Web.
This is the season to step away from your computer, reach out and get involved in your community. Join your local chamber of commerce. Go to the mixers. Get to know the people. By the time you have gone to one or two events, the other people attending will begin to recognize you. They will remember your name and begin to build a relationship based on trust. Remember to take your business cards and give them out to everyone you meet. There is a little saying I like to use: "The more you meet and greet, the more you will treat."
A couple of months ago, I worked a booth at the Veterans Information Fair, an event sponsored by Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-Calif.). I was invited to be at one of the booths and I, in turn, invited acupuncturists to join me at the booth. We talked about the positive results that acupuncture has when treating posttraumatic stress disorder and/or pain. We found a very receptive crowd, eager to talk to us and interested in more information. This is the season to reach out to a veteran and their family. Start with just meeting a veteran; they are everywhere. Veterans are connected to, and network with, other veterans. Find the meeting place for the Veterans of Foreign Wars; there is at least one such meeting hall in every community. You might want to sponsor a Christmas for a veteran and their family. Join other acupuncturists in your community and sponsor a family. You can provide them with a joyous holiday.
Congresswoman Solis gave me this quote for the acupuncture community: "Open up your hearts and reach out to a veteran and their families. They will appreciate it. We want to remember them as we near the holiday." Please give some consideration this season that it is more of a blessing to give than to receive. How can you give to those around you in your community who are not as blessed as we are? Give the gift of health to those who need information and your services.
May you, your staff and family have a healthy, safe and blessed holiday season from myself and the staff of Acupuncture Today. We appreciate your loyal readership and participation each month, and look forward to communicating with you in 2009.
Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.