Building your professional networking circle and marketing can start at any point of your career. Starting sooner rather than later will help make your career in your future much easier. I know this can be intimidating for the shy and introverted MFT's. You are not alone. What drives you to be in the profession? For me, it is my future, and my family. You accomplished graduate school and have the training and skills. You are ready for this step in your life! All you need is to believe in yourself.
So how do you do it?
- Where you start is not meaningless. The supervisors,teachers, colleagues and friends of family members you currently have are connected with people. For anyone in the field that you want to connect with, invite them to coffee and ask them about their achievements, how they decided on what to specialize in, what they did/do for self-care. Make it about them, because you want to learn how they got to where they are. Leave them an MFT seed of yourself to remember you by. Most importantly, be genuine, authentic and professional.
- If you are looking for a private practice internship site, contact licensed clinicians and psychologists on PsychologyToday and ask if they are seeking for an intern at their practice.
- Create business cards. This can be ANY simple business card. I once went to a networking meeting and we had the opportunity at the end to pass our business card around. Those that did not come prepared had to write down their info on torn pieces of printer paper. A simple business card is much more professional than this. Always carry them with you! Please keep in mind your state’s ethics code for advertising.
- Attend association meetings, conferences, symposiums, trainings at mental health agencies or with organizations. These are great opportunities to learn from professionals about their careers and knowledge in the field. Speak to these professionals and share your name and interests with them. Also, participate in webinars. Sovereign Health, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Center for Healthy Sex are great places for interactive webinars!
- Join the LinkedIn, Alignable, Facebook MFT Network or MFT Interns Support & Study Group pages to also stay in touch with opportunities and future clinicians. Post what kind of jobs you are looking for, services you provide and you’ll be surprised with the leads you’ll receive.
- This cherished piece of advice (from my amazing former supervisor, Dr. Wiig) is best once you have secured a private practice internship. Go to local businesses (e.g. hospitals, holistic clinics, nutritionists, etc) and introduce yourself-- take some goodies if you can. As an intern, this was intimidating because I believed that professionals would prefer licensed clinicians. I was wrong. Many licensed clinicians in private practice do not always do this so you will benefit from making yourself known in the community. Talk about what you specialize in and ask about their services. They will keep you in mind!
- Get to know the needs of your community. With the approval of your supervisor, create workshops to present for FREE at local schools (e.g. parent center) or for employees at local businesses (e.g. stress or anxiety management, anger management, relaxation).
- Create a free website. Once you start getting referrals, some clients may ask to see your website and may turn you away because you do not have one. Advertise your specialties, services, events, and blogs.
- Consider taking professional headshots to post on all social medias and your website. As fun as they are, selfies are not professional.
- Always send a thank you note or email to those you invited out for coffee or spoke to virtually or in-person.