cats cradle

Remember Cat’s Cradle? How to Use It to Build Your Advocacy Practice

Just back at my desk after the last of this Fall’s (2013) three APHA workshops, this one held in Los Angeles – another great experience meeting so many passionate, inspirational advocates and soon-to-be advocates….

As those who took the marketing workshop learned – one of the most important things we should do is to measure the effectiveness and client satisfaction of our work once it’s completed. To accomplish that, after each of the workshops, I surveyed attendees to see what they found most useful and to understand what didn’t work so well, too.

The results:

The answers varied. Many cited as most useful the business workshop’s session on how to price your services using their value as the foundation. Others mentioned marketing by focusing on benefits instead of services. Some advocates appreciated the more in-depth information about maximizing their web presence. Still others finally understand how to get a client to say “yes” to a contract.

But there was one element that was mentioned most often among almost 150 surveys.

Networking! The great majority of attendees loved the networking opportunities.

This came as NO surprise to me. None. In fact, it’s the sole reason I trekked all over the country to hold these workshops in person instead of merely developing online learning modules. Just like the post I shared a few weeks ago about high tech, high touch, and the reasons advocates are successful in their work, individual advocates, and those who aspire to opening a practice, benefited a great deal from meeting each other, comparing notes, asking questions, finding like-minded individuals, and realizing they aren’t alone in their quests to build private practices.

The results of that great networking – a variety of cat’s cradle-like outcomes:

  • In some cases two or more advocates came together with complementary skills and will begin referring their clients when the services they need are better offered by the other person.
  • Several times I met an advocate in one location who, because of similar interests, I could then introduce to an advocate in another location so they could share ideas. Lisa from New Hampshire and Lisa from California are both interested in end-of-life issues, and can support each other in two corners of the country.
  • In both Los Angeles and Chicago, a handful of advocates living in the same general geography have decided to put together local networking groups to meet on a regular basis so they can share skills and ideas.
  • Dianne, who is Native American, has some unique constraints on how she can establish a paying practice because of her belief system and culture. She was able to crowdsource some ideas by networking – that is – using the power of many people focusing on her way of looking at her world and how she brings value to those who need her services.

Perhaps the one feeling most common among attendees was that sharing with others helped them better understand that none of us is in this alone, and that many others will happily pitch in with support and ideas. With the maxim “a rising tide floats all boats” we realized that we can all help each other and by doing so, we help the entire profession grow.

Of course, when we return to “real life,” it’s tougher to network. Our members live far and wide, and in-person networking is almost impossible for most of us.That cat’s cradle takes on huge dimensions when spread out across the world! So that’s when we turn to technology.

Members of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates have several ways to network with each other, ranging from our Forum, to Pop Up Conversations. You can find them by logging into your dashboard and linking to the Networking Center.

The smartest among us recognize networking as a great way to enhance our own knowledge about our profession, plus the recognition by our patients-clients that we can help. Those who attended the APHA workshops now recognize this value better than ever.

How has networking helped you? Have you attempted the cat’s cradle? Whether or not you attended the APHA workshops, I invite you to share your networking story below. Help yourself while you help others, too!

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Agree? Disagree?

Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo: screenshots from WikiMedia and a cat’s cradle video

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