Last week I had an opportunity to attend a continuing education class in Hayward. During this program I witnessed many providers participating in workshop projects throughout the day. This provided interaction from attendees that shared the same facility types, as well as input from others. While online education serves as a great alternative for continuing education, taking live classroom hours provides the benefits of networking with colleagues. Remember to make the most of your continuing education by getting to know your instructors and other class participants. Below are some great networking tips which you should find useful.

Networking. Focused networking is an effective way to increase the number of referrals. Networking opportunities are not always formal affairs, but can be simple routine conversations about the facility and the quality services it provides. An energetic and exciting rendition of a positive event that recently took place in the facility can produce a string of referrals from people who want to be part of such a positive place.

Networking depends on building relationships with others in the same or related industries to help spread the word about your facility and your services. When preparing to network:

  1. Recognize that there is more to networking than greeting people. Develop a step-by-step plan for how you’ll build relationships and how you can effectively tell your story.
  2. Zero in on specific groups of people. Who are the ideal prospects for your business? Do they live nearby? What activities do they participate in?
  3. Determine where you’ll be most likely to find your ideal prospects. Do they belong to specific organizations or associations? Do they frequent particular events, performances, or recreational facilities?
  4. Identify organizations, events, professional groups, and social clubs whose members meet your profile characteristics and get involved. Get to know people and let them know what you do. You can volunteer for committees, attend conferences, and maximize opportunities that might spin off from the formal sessions.
  5. Work on your ability to make small talk. Have some prepared topics in mind–current events, sports, vacation plans. And be sure to ask open-ended questions of the other person like “What is it you enjoy most about your work . . . or where you live . . . or your free time?” Remember, too, that having a good conversation depends greatly on being an active, courteous listener.
  6. Explore organizations dedicated to business networking. Chambers of Commerce, tenant associations, and networking clubs offer opportunities for you to meet and greet.
  7. Look for partners. Specifically, look for other businesses that complement what you do and might be a good source of referrals.
  8. Don’t look at networking as a sales opportunity. Instead, look at it as a reconnaissance mission–a chance for you to learn something and enjoy the scenery. There is a proper time and place for sales calls.
  9. Make a habit of being patient, polite and friendly to people, whether or not you’re in an “orchestrated” setting. One day, I was snapped at by a frazzled airport ticket agent. Instead of getting angry and formulating a counterattack, I said, “You must be exhausted; so many people are flying this weekend.” A woman behind me commented on my remark and asked if I was in the clergy. I laughed and told her what I did, and thus began an enjoyable business relationship.
  10. Finally, do something constructive with the names and information you’ve gathered. Stay in touch with the most meaningful contacts.
  11. Be sure the following persons are included in your network:
  • Other providers
  • Placement facilities
  • Discharge planners
  • Local physicians
  • Local mental health professionals
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Home health facilities
  • Hospice facilities (particularly with possible upcoming changes in hospice regulations regarding admissions)
  • Adult Protective Services
  • Your Ombudsman

I am sure that others have great networking ideas that can add helpful suggestions to my above thoughts. Please feel free to add a comment to this blog and share some of your networking tips with other providers as well.

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