“80% of success is just showing up.” – Woody Allen

To paraphrase Woody Allen, “80% of success in marketing is just showing up.” Is there research evidence for this figure? Probably not. But we know for sure that marketing is all about cultivating relationships with potential clients and referral sources. And you can’t do that very well by hiding.

There are several ways to show up. You get the best results by knowing who your target audiences are, and showing up where they hang out.

Most mental health professionals have two major types of target audiences:

a)     The people whom you want to help, i.e., potential clients and patients. Ideally it’s better to focus on one or two groups of people rather than try to appeal to everyone. Your target audiences may be those of certain demographic characteristics (teens, families, professional women, etc.) or those with specific types of problems (depression, anxiety, ADHD, divorce, etc.)

b)    Referral sources. You will get more referrals from professionals and others with whom you’ve had personal communication.

Here are some suggestions for where to “show up.” Pick a few that feel most appropriate for you:

To interact with potential clients and patients

Show up at community events – seasonal festivals, cultural performances, health fairs, sports matches, town hall meetings, etc.

Show up at your kids’ activities. Volunteer to chaperone field trips. Participate in career day. Chat with other parents at birthday parties and sports fields. Offer to help with car-pooling.

Show up where people spend leisure time – gyms, golf courses, basketball leagues, horse stables, hobby classes, dog parks, etc.

Show up where you are visible in the community – Participate in local fund-raising campaigns. Give presentations on mental health topics (your local Y will provide a room.) Run for election to the school board. Volunteer to judge science fairs. Organize or sponsor a community event.

Show up online – Have a blog and post regularly. Get active on Twitter. Start your own email list with tips and other information for interested subscribers.

To interact with referral sources

Show up at professional meetings – Bar Association receptions, hospital grand rounds,  interdisciplinary meetings, business networking groups, etc.

Show up at service clubs – Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc. – as a speaker and/or a member.

Show up on community boards – arts council, school board, library board, community fund-raising campaigns.

Show up in co-ordinating care – With your clients’ permission, send progress summaries to other professionals involved in their care.

Show up in online social media – Participate in professional listservs, forums and Linkedin groups. Respond to blog posts and tweets by other professionals.

Note: The above lists have some overlap. For example, you may strike up a conversation with a potential referral source at the gym or at your child’s school play. And a potential client may be sitting across the table from you at a Rotary Club breakfast.

What’s next?

Once you meet your referral sources where they are, start interacting with them. As a skilled interviewer, you know how to start a conversation and express interest. If there’s an opportunity, find a way to be helpful – not necessarily related to psychology. It can be something as simple as holding the door open or offering to bring back an extra cup of coffee from the dispenser. In your online encounters you can be helpful by answering a question or by providing a link or resource.

Showing up is not a one-shot deal. In order for potential clients and referral sources to get to know you, like you and trust you, you need to keep showing up over time, and keep being helpful without appearing pushy.

Of course, somewhere along the way you’ll mention the types of people you work with and the problems that you help with.

Continually showing up and interacting on a friendly, casual level will pay off when someone needs the services that you offer (or knows someone who needs help.) When they are ready to make an appointment or refer somebody, your name will come to mind, because they have already had recent positive experience with you.