Involvement in your neighborhood can be an important part of creating name recognition for you and your practice. Even for a well-established office with a good reputation, visibility in the community can be instrumental for practice growth.
How you go about getting your name in the community and how you spend your time is a personal preference. Some ECPs don’t always feel comfortable in new social situations where they have to introduce themselves and try to remember faces and names of those they are meeting. It’s important, however, to go outside your comfort zone and make professional and personal connections with important people in your area. Creating a network of referral sources through community involvement can be very valuable. Occupational and physical therapists, reading specialists, teachers, coaches, nurses, and of course, other medical professionals are all great sources for getting new patients.
Some of us don’t know how we can find the time between work and spending time with family. It’s all a balancing act. Increasing your exposure in the community doesn’t always mean face time. It could mean a donation or sponsorship to an activity or cause that is local. It may be supporting regional theater, sports, a charity event, or various other activities. If there’s a cause that’s important to you or something that fits in with your practice specialties, look for opportunities to connect. If you have a specialty such as sports vision training, providing sports vision screenings to local teams in exchange for advertising is something you may be able to arrange.
You can look at the potential return on investment for getting involved, but that is not the only thing to consider. Some things won’t be profitable, but it keeps your name in the public eye. Donating your time to speak about vision problems or eye disease may get some results, but in these situations it’s more about the people that you’ll connect with than turning them into new patients. You want to attract patients that will value your services and expertise””those who will come to you, not because you may be on their vision plan, but because of the connection you’ve made with them.
The next time someone asks for your time or support, consider both the benefits you get from helping others as well as the benefits to your practice. We could all probably do a little more. Hopefully, your involvement and generosity will be rewarded nicely.
ERIC L. BRAN, OD, PROFESSIONAL EDITOR