Article Date: 5/1/2007

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Start Shaking Hands And Kissing Babies

By Allan S. Tocker, O.D. Wilmington, Del.

Question: I’m hearing a lot about networking as a practice-builder, but it sounds time-consuming, and I don’t know if I can find the time. Is it worth it?

Answer: There are many techniques you can use to grow your practice, but for me, nothing beats community service. It establishes a strong business foundation, helps build and maintain a loyal patient base and provides professional and personal fulfillment. Best of all, the only required investment is your time. Here’s how to get involved:
• Find your passion. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, a Habitat for Humanity project or a local animal rescue center. You’ll be welcome no matter how much or how little time you can spare.
• Join or offer to be a guest speaker at service organizations, such as the Lions Club, the Jaycees or the Rotary Club. Many of these groups are looking for new members. People will remember you, whether you meet while delivering holiday meals to needy families or after speaking at a monthly meeting. They’ll remember your name, and they’ll find you if they need eye care.
• Get published. Letters to the editor and press releases give you access to newspapers. A letter to the editor should be relevant to recent headlines or local interests. Press releases will help you announce new offerings at your practice, or they can be tied to some current event. For example, when my local paper reported on the Fusarium outbreak among contact lens wearers, I submitted a press release that resulted in a front-page story in which I was prominently featured.
• Interact with patients in the community. If you’re not good with names, talk about some key information, such as a son in the service or an upcoming wedding. If you meet in a restaurant or at the movies, chat about the food or the film.
Everyone you meet is a potential patient, and existing patients who interact with you outside the office are more likely to remain loyal to your practice.

A 1983 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Dr. Tocker practices in Delaware at his offices in Wilmington, Newark and the New Castle Farmer’s Market.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2007