When we start off, most of us work alone, adding more members to the team as our practice grows. But those early days on your own can be scary and really lonely. I must say, it didn’t take me long to hire someone to assist me. I have the type of personality that enjoys working with other people. I realized this when I had a two-week break from working as a locum in the UK. My brother and friends were all working, so I decided to take a week-long trip on my own through Cornwall in South West England. I think I lasted four days, then headed back to my brother’s flat. It’s hard for me to make memories on my own.
Of course, as Vetrehabbers we’re never really alone, because we have our patients and their owners to talk to. But these relationship are not the same as the close, supportive ones we develop over time with members of our team.
We need that ongoing social support more than we realize, at times. There are so many ups and downs in a business owner’s life, and we often need someone just to listen, offer some guidance, motivate us and keep us on our chosen path.
You may not be at the stage where you have a great team around you. That time will come. In the meantime, here are a few tips to prevent loneliness setting in:
1. Join a Facebook group
The internet has eliminated our isolation by allowing us to be part of so many online groups, including on Facebook. Onlinepethealth has Facebook groups for each kind of membership, all of them open to non-members, too. Why not join one or all of these?
Use these groups to ask for advice, empathy and support with your cases. They’re a safe space to share and learn. I know some people find sharing harder than others; discussing our difficulties and successes on social media involves exposure and a certain confidence, and some are just not comfortable with it. If you’re that person, more intimate one-on-one connections may be the better option, using personal messaging, allowing you to connect with just the people you know. The point, however, is to make connections – we all need them.
2. Personal get-togethers
You might prefer to discuss issues in person. Why not create a regular, relaxed get-together with a few colleagues, meeting once a month or so for coffee? Discussing cases and business issues with like-minded colleagues who share your challenges can do wonders for the soul.
3. WhatsApp groups
Create a WhatsApp group for your country, city or state and invite all the therapists to join. In South Africa we have a group of 117 therapists who share links to conferences and blogs, ask one another questions about where to find products, and refer cases to one another.
4. Consult from a vet’s rooms
Consulting from a vet’s rooms a few days a week is a great way to increase referrals. Most vets will allow you to use a consult room in the middle of the day for a small fee or a percentage of your consultation, as they are often doing operations at this time of day. This is a great way to build relationships and connections with local practices.
5. Listen to podcasts
You can learn so much while driving or when taking a break between clients. I cannot resist the chance to punt my podcast, the Veterinary Rehabilitation podcast (https://onlinepethealth-info.com/podcast/). I’d love to keep you company!
6. Engage with clients on social media
As a business, you absolutely must have a social media presence, regularly posting engaging content that followers want to respond to. Engaging with clients and potential clients is a great way to foster relationships and build trust. Although it’s online, it is still connecting and very satisfying. One can reach people long after office hours are over, and really build some valuable connections.
7. Attend online webinars and conferences
It’s amazing what you can learn from conferences without ever having to leave your home. Online conferences connect you with colleagues all over the world – a far greater network of knowledgeable, motivated and supportive people than you may ever have the chance to meet in person.
8. Attend live conferences
Of course, nothing replaces those real-life connections. Attending conferences and workshops is never only about the learning, but also about the connections and relationships formed. The connections sparked at conferences can often grow into lasting friendships.
9. Rent out a spare consult room to other therapists
If you have an extra consult room, consider renting it out a few days a week, even if the consultant works in another field. Just the presence of a warm body and someone to chat to between clients can be a form of support.
10. Drop in at local vet practices to network
Regularly meeting with local vets should already be a part of your marketing strategy, and if so, great. Keep it up! Just by popping in every now and then to pick up a report or give feedback on a case, you’re building relationships. Good relationships with vets keep us connected and, of course, increase our referrals. Over the years, I have built many good friendships through my practice.
11. Find a mentor
One really cannot put a price on a good mentor. Try to find a therapist who has been in the field for longer than you have, and if you feel a sense of rapport, ask if you can call when you need advice. Most colleagues will be more than happy to support you. I have a number of vetrehabbers that I mentor, and I find it so rewarding to see their growth and success.
I am here for all of you, so if you need advice or support, email me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
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