Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT
How I Came to View Networking Events as Social Meetups by Attending 3-5 Networking Events per Month, Thanks to My Supervisor
My supervisor requires me to attend 3-5 networking events per month. This sounds like a lot and in many ways it is. It’s hard to find events that fit with your work schedule. When I first started looking for networking events, it felt like a burden. There were many months where I fell short of my networking requirement. My supervisor would then kindly remind me to pick up my networking responsibilities. I would reach out to colleagues and ask them if they were attending events or I would search for events on Google. I disliked attending events because I had a negative narrative in my head about it. My supervisor’s requirement continuously pushed me to go.
Now I am at a place where I enjoy attending networking events. Not all the time of course. Sometimes I really don’t want to go, and I must force myself, but I usually enjoy it once I am there. If my supervisor did not require me to go, I probably would not have reached the place where I enjoy them, and I thank her for that. Funny thing is that I have not shared my gratitude with her, which I should probably do. The following is what has helped me get to a place where I enjoy networking.
Your Approach—Changing Your Narrative
Prior to attending networking events, I viewed them in a negative light. I saw them as a “Me, Me, Me” sales pitch, similar to commercials in the media: “Guaranteed success or your money back.” This is therapy, there is no guaranteed success, at least in my opinion. A typical elevator pitch for sales consists of “You know when you have this problem, well, we can solve that problem because our product does this.” Therapy is not like gong to the dentist and getting your teeth cleaned. It’s not like fixing the broken screen on your cell phone. The outcome of treatment can be unpredictable due to the many variables at play in each individual case. I struggled with this and I got in my head about it. I needed a narrative shift, so I practiced the tools that I developed throughout my career.
Now I view networking events as a social meetup. Yes, a social meetup. I go there to meet people and learn about what they do. I tell them about what I do. We exchange business cards and keep it casual. I have an elevator pitch, but it consists of 3 things: (1) name; (2) location; (3) specialty, a tip I got from an attendee at a networking event. It’s fun to meet new people and it helps me build my resources when I need to refer out.
I learned something else from the attendee who helped me with my elevator pitch. He is a divorce mediator and was attending an LA-CAMFT event for therapists. He was networking outside of his circle of colleagues (divorce mediators). He cultivated relationships with his fellow members at LA-CAMFT and they are now his colleagues, but prior to this he must have thought about stepping out of his inner circle of divorce mediators. I realized I could try this technique myself.
Networking Outside of Your Profession
In the beginning of this article I talked about how difficult it can be to find 3-5 networking events per month that fit your schedule. Well that was because I was narrowing my search by only looking for events for mental health clinicians. I decided to widen my search by looking for ALL networking events in Los Angeles.
Last month I attended an event for graphic designers that was hosted by Adobe. It was free and they served pizza and macaroons. I do motion graphics as a hobby (my version of art therapy for self-soothing) so it was of interest to me. I chatted with people as we ate pizza. I was the only therapist that I met there. A common response I got from people was, “Wait, you’re a therapist, what are you doing here?” I explained to them that I play with motion graphics as a hobby and that I wanted to learn more about it, which is true. I do love my motion graphics. I asked them about what they do and asked them for their business cards. I did not pretend to show interest. I was genuinely interested, which builds a connection. They expressed genuine interest in my field because they did not know much about mental health, which led to them asking for my business card. I found myself networking outside of my profession and reaching people who would not attend a mental health event.
Another area I have been exploring is eSports and gaming networking events. I am a competitive gamer myself and I have noticed a huge need for mental health services within the gaming community. Sports psychology for traditional sports has been around since the 1930s. It has not fully transitioned to eSports teams yet. Some eSports teams have clinicians on staff, but many don’t. Professional gamers struggle with the same pressures as traditional athletes. Several professional gamers suffer from panic attacks after losing a big tournament on stage, then they fear future attacks at their next tournament. Gamers also struggle with social anxiety and depression. I attend these events to see if there is any way I can get involved.
Attending networking events outside of your profession is a great way to see how you can combine your passion for mental health with your interest in other industries. This is Los Angeles and the networking events are endless. You may not have a supervisor who requires you to attend 3-5 networking events per month like I do, but you can make it a requirement for yourself. I highly recommend that you do.
Eric Kruse, Registered Associate MFT, and Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, is a pre-licensed therapist in private practice at Play Vista Counseling where he specializes in substance abuse and process addictions. Eric believes that every person has a unique and interesting story. With clients he works towards deconstructing problem-saturated narratives and thickening thin descriptions that lead to unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors. Eric is supervised by Rachel Thomasian, LMFT. To learn more, visit www.playavistacounseling.
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California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists
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