Los Angeles Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Would you like to have lunch? This is a question that is often heard at LA-CAMFT networking events. People go to these events because they are looking to build a professional network for referrals, and they are looking for support. One of the most important ways to do this is by sharing your story and building trust.
The LA-CAMFT monthly networking event is a great first step to meeting people, developing professional referrals and gaining mentorship, but networking doesn’t stop when the event is over. Networking takes time and energy and can be a little nerve-racking for those who aren’t used to approaching strangers and striking up a conversation. It can also feel uncomfortable for people to share personal information about themselves.
Networking, to me, is all about connecting on a deeper level. A referral from a colleague can hold much more weight than a google search or a provider list from an insurance company. It can also be a positive reflection on the professional giving the referral.
Because a single referral can reflect so much about both parties, it is important to be a little vulnerable and get personal. Getting to know the other person really well allows you to understand their expertise, and more importantly, you get to know their character.
Setting up a lunch is easy enough. You meet up and start asking questions. I like to ask questions about their practice, their ideal clients and what drew them to this field. We usually swap stories about our journey of becoming therapists and where we are heading in our profession. I have found that the more open and curious I am, the more fun it is to network.
Here are the three things that I love to bring to networking lunches:
1. Genuine curiosity: My favorite thing to ask about is the other person’s life and journey to becoming a therapist. I’ve heard amazing stories from so many therapists. This often gives insight into their values and purpose, which helps me understand how to best refer them. Sometimes having common values inspires a long-term partnership on larger therapeutic initiatives at LA-CAMFT.
2. Authenticity: I am always open to sharing my journey as well. My journey is a series of ebbs and flows. Being myself and talking about my path to feels great! It provides a clear picture of who I am and what I care about. Our stories are important. We should share them.
3. An open mind: It’s absolutely fine if people don’t hit it off right away. What keeps the connection going naturally are shared values and common interests. The key in continuing the conversation and learning about the other person is finding those things you have in common. It may take time and patience.
If you and I have the pleasure of “doing lunch,” here’s what I would love for you to bring:
1. Relax and enjoy it. Have fun being yourself.
2. Share your journey. Your journey is important and deserves to be heard.
3. Build up to the business part of the meeting. Sharing your ideal clientele is only a fraction of this conversation. I want to know about you on a personal level.
By the end of the networking lunch, there are a few things we should know or do in order to help each other. For example:
1. How do I refer a client to you? Exchange professional information such as ideal client(s), fee(s), insurance and location.
2. Add the person to your list of professional referrals. Connect on all social media outlets.
3. Set up another lunch. If you enjoyed the lunch and want to build a stronger connection, set up another lunch for the following month.
4. Plan the next LA-CAMFT event to attend together. If you don’t have the time for another lunch, then discuss other professional events where you could connect.
Getting to know people and letting them get to know you is the key to networking. I’ve found that scheduling regular lunches and collaborating on events through LA-CAMFT are perfect for building strong professional relationships and referrals.
Christina Castorena, LMFT
Christina Castorena, MS, LMFT, worked in community mental health before starting her private practice, Castorena Therapeutic Services, in 2016. She passionately serves adults, couples, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are dealing with life transitions, parenting, relational conflicts, and anxiety. She employs family systems and mindfulness-based CBT. As president of LA-CAMFT, Christina strongly advocates for her professional community and celebrates the hard-working clinicians that facilitate healing. Her website is castorenatherapeutic.com. Christina may be contacted at email@example.com.
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