Podcast 91: Networking with 90 people in 90 days. An interview with Allison Puryear

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Intimidated by networking? Get quick tips on how to grow your business through networking (even if you are an introvert)!


Today’s Private Practice Sponsor

Counselor websites

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PoP Culture meet Allison Puryear

Allison social media(1)

Allison Puryear is an amazing private practice consultant. I love what she says on her website about how she started networking:

“Because Joel’s program took up at least 80 hours per week, there was no hope for him bringing in money aside from student loans that mostly went toward tuition. But I was committed.

I met 90 potential referral sources in 90 days.

I wrangled my way on to a Board of Directors.

I learned about insurance companies and billing.

I meditated daily.

I took really long walks with my dog to help eat up the empty hours.

I consulted business advisors.

And I tried hard not to freak out.

I’ll share a list of my fears at the time (not from memory, I wrote a list of these suckers):

“I’m going to fail. We’re going to be broke. This fear is going to ruin everything. I’m going to get depressed. I’ll be too forward or too different.” 

“I’m not as good as the Seattle clinicians. I won’t do what it takes to succeed. People won’t like me or refer to me. I’ll be out of the game so long, I’ll suck.” 

Now, as I work with others who are starting practices, I’ve learned that most people have the same exact fears I did. Fears of failure, incompetence in therapy and/or business, not being liked.”


What you’ll discover in this private practice podcast:

10:12 Resources that helped Allison

12:55 How to get coffee with doctors and other referral sources

22:25 How introverts can network and still be themselves

31:56 Overcoming insecurities

37:22 How to start a consulting group

46:11 What every counselor needs to hear and why private practice is surprisingly easy to master

Sign up for the Abundance Practice Building Tutorials

Casey Truffo | beawealthytherapist.net 

Lynn Grodski | privatepracticesuccess.com

David P. Diana | davidpdiana.com

Video Conferencing Platform | Zoom.us

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC

Joe Sanok Private Practice ConsultantJoe Sanok is an ambitious results expert. He is a private practice business consultant and counselor that helps small businesses and counselors in private practice to increase revenue and have more fun! He helps owners with website design, vision, growth, and using their time to create income through being a private practice consultant. Joe was frustrated with his lack of business and marketing skills when he left graduate school. He loved helping people through counseling, but felt that often people couldn’t find him. Over the past few years he has grown his skills, income, and ability to lead others, while still maintaining an active private practice in Traverse City, MI. To link to Joe’s Google+ .





Podcast Transcription

This is the Practice of the Practice Podcast with Joe Sanok, Session 91. Well, welcome, welcome, welcome. I am so glad you’re here today. Today, you know, it’s so funny how you plan things out sometimes, and it just don’t go according to plan. So, today, I was batch-recording some of my podcasts and so that I could get a little bit ahead, had some no-shows. That no-shows are cancelations and they let me know ahead of time and when I was exporting the previous podcast, the one from last Tuesday, every single time that it would go like spit it into iTunes, GarageBand would shut down and like I tried it three or four times and it would shut down. It wouldn’t export it and oh my gosh.I ended up having to uninstall GarageBand, reinstall it, which took forever and you know, I’m just such one of those like highly effective people that likes to get stuff done. Just drives me bonkers. But I sat and I ate my berries that I brought. I have this wonderful mixture of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries like my favorite combination in the world of berries. And then I ate my wrap that had this like herbed feta cheese and a little turkey and had some spinach and tomato and cucumber and you know like I just took some deep breaths while it installed and you know what? It’s back. It exported fine. As you know, last week’s podcast went just dandy.

But so often, you know, especially those of us that are high achievers, which if you’re listening to this, you probably are. You know we get in our head like we want to get all this stuff done today, and we have our ways that we do that. We have our list. Like I have my today list like reasonable things that I can get done today. And then I’ve got my like someday list. And so those are just ideas for slow day that after my today list is done. Great to do those things, great to be efficient, great to do all that, but no need to have anxiety and worry and flip a lid when you don’t quite get what you think you’re going to get done, done.

So few people are taking the progress that we’re taking or taking on the progress we’re hoping to achieve. I talk to counselors every single day and they are one of a couple people that are even thinking about growing their business in private practice. And you know, you’re in that group.

So I want to thank Brighter Vision for being a sponsor of this podcast this month. They are just awesome. They make websites where you pay them 59 bucks a month and then you get a beautiful website. When you’re first starting out in particular, this is such a good option. When you’re ready to upgrade a website, but you’re not sure you want to invest in like a full like website you own, it’s such a good option. The therapist website templates just they’re awesome. They’re beautiful, they rock, they have just a great look to them. You don’t get those boring templates from like the 1990s that look like, I don’t know. They are made on – I can’t even think of the platform, you know, some random old platform.

These are great websites that are customizable. They’re beautiful, they rank high in Google, and I hear so much good feedback from people that go through them.

So this month, the first 30 people are going to get their first month for free if you just go to brightervision.com/joe. Go check them out even if you’re not quite ready. It’s good to just like kind of get some tips and get some ideas that we have some great resources on the website.

Well, today, we have someone who has her own beautiful website. It’s Allison Puryear and she is just so incredible. She has abundancepracticebuilding.com. She’s going to be teaching us all about networking, and I actually discovered some things that I could be doing better as a result of this interview. And she tells this great story about just like how she transitioned into more private practice, how she ended up in several communities that she knew nobody.

You know, I live in Traverse City, Michigan where I went to school. I moved back here, my wife is from here. All of our parents ran the school system like people know our last name. So my dad’s a psychologist so it was easier. But she’s gone to towns where she knew nobody and just rocked out a private practice and she gives us all of the tricks, tips, all sorts of amazing things that just help you – I don’t know, just be able to network even if you’re an introvert, and you don’t really like doing this stuff. She’s really cool.

So she’s going to be giving away some free stuff that will help you continue to grow. One of those is going to be a worksheet that is going to walk you through just some really awesome things and some quick tips and I’ll give you more details of that at the very end of the podcast.

So without any further ado, I give you Allision Puryrear. Allison Puryear, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.

AP: Thanks so much, Joe. I’m happy to be here.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. Well, I’m so glad to have you. You’ve got abundancepracticebuilding.com, which is a beautiful website, by the way.

AP: Thank you.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. I know that that – the new update is recent, and it just looks gorgeous so well done there. But let’s just start with who you are like who are you?

AP: Okay. Sure. So I’m Allison Puryear, and I am an LCSW and also a certified Eating Disorder specialist and I also run a practice building business. And so I just kind of have that dual passion of clinical work and the practice building which has been really fun and they’re mightily pretty awesome in the last little while.

Joe Sanok: So tell me how you started getting into practice building because I think that’s often a next step when people have a successful private practice to start thinking about, “Well, how do I become a consultant?” Like how did you start you thinking that way because we’re not taught that in grad school?

AP: Right. Yeah. Sure. So I guess it all kind of goes back to when I started my first full-time practice and had a part-time practice and was working in agencies and when you know me, I’m pretty easily managed like I’m a hard worker. I really like to please people and I want to be useful.

But I had these agency experiences that I felt were pretty peculiar but in talking to more and more people I realize they’re not quite so unusual. So my first agency job out of school we got a new executive director who liked to scream at us a lot and bang fists on tables and things like that, and it’s not a good experience. It was a sexual assault center and she decided that it wasn’t in the mission to have – it didn’t fit the mission to have counselors on staff. So she didn’t apply for a funding so we all got laid off.

And so that was my introduction to social work.

Joe Sanok: Wow!

AP: Out of school, it was not fun. And then my next agency job my coworkers and I had to sue our boss in order to get paid. And then my next agency job was really amazing. It was great until something happened in the leadership and all of a sudden there’s this huge shift in the culture and people were really resentful and people were crying in each other’s offices and it just – I was kind of done and distrustful of agencies after that.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. It’s funny you bring that up. It’s like this flood of emotions just came over to me from my first agency jobs. Like fresh out of grad school, I worked at this residential facility and had to drive like an hour and 15 minutes each way and then my second place they hired me on, big pay bonus and which is odd for a nonprofit and then four months later, they’re like, “Oh, we’re shutting our doors and you’re going to help transition all of these kids out of where they’ve lived for the last like five years.” Yeah, agency work’s tough.

Like why do you think it is like I don’t think it has to be that way. And there’s a lot of really good agencies out there but like why do you think agencies often have that just lack of leadership or lack of vision?

AP: I think people get really burned out. And I’m an optimist so I want to believe like everybody is doing the best that they can, and maybe leadership gets more and more pressured depending on the structure of the bureaucracy. Like I was going to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

AP: I think like I know that the guy that we had to sue. For him, it was greed. He wasn’t a clinician. He was you know, throwing parties in his mansion and driving up in his Hammer and all these kinds of things while we were barely making ends meet with not getting paid.

So I think that that exists, but I think the vast majority is just people, they want to be doing a good job. They’re just so burned out.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So for you, when you were feeling like, “All right. This isn’t my long term path.” Like what did you start thinking? What resources did you look to just start to think differently?

Resources that helped Allison

AP: Yeah. So this was several years ago, and we were actually about to move to Seattle, so sticking at this agency until we moved just to like ride it out essentially. And we were moving to Seattle so that my husband could go to school, and he was learning about 80 hours a week. So there was no way he could work. And then I just decided I was going to start a full-time practice.

So Be a Wealthy Therapist, Casey Truffo, she was really helpful. Lynn Grodski – so some of the older – not older like age-wise but the practice builders have been doing it a long time.

Joe Sanok: Established.

AP: Thank you, yes. The established practice builders were helpful. I think, David P. Diana was another one. So there were some great resources. At that time, there weren’t a lot, but the ones that were there pretty high quality. And so I just shoved this much information into my brain as I could. And then I tried it all, and so when we moved to Seattle, and we knew no one, because I decided to go full-time in a place where I knew no one, I just kept trying and trying different things and seeing what worked and what I was learning is there’s a lot of seed-planting at the very beginning of starting your practice. It’s not like you network with somebody and then the next day you get a referral from them. Most of the time it happens sometimes but it’s pretty unusual. And so I kept thinking like I’m doing all these things and they’re not working. It’s not happening for me. And then it was kind of like when it rains it pours. It was a like a [cross-talk]

Joe Sanok: What were some of those things that led to that thunderstorm of referrals?

AP: I think it was primarily networking and that’s why I’m so excited about talking about networking which I see is really just relationship-building, ultimately.

I was also on the board of directors for something within my niche. What else? Networking.

Joe Sanok: Like when you say networking, was that like the business after hours, was that like chamber of commerce events? Like what kind of networking?

AP: I’m more on the like one-on-one scene. I like getting together with people one-on-one and really getting to know them. I’ll do the networking events. I’m fine with that, but I find that those like an opportunity to have a good relationship with someone, it’s just easier when you’re one-on-one at coffee than when you’re expected to kind of mingle around.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. I’ve found that at least in Traverse City that most of the people that go to those events are real estate agents, bankers, and attorneys, which I mean it’s good to get referrals from I think attorneys but the other ones like there’s just not as many referral opportunities oftentimes.

AP: Right. Absolutely. And I tried to get in a BNI meeting, but that was kind of like it’s a lot of internal resources in BNI or referrals in BNI and so I wasn’t going to see the person sitting next to me for therapy and being like, “Oh, hey. You seem like you need therapy” isn’t really a kind of common conversation amongst people outside our field.

Joe Sanok: Right and it’s not like you could then provide leads to those people, either and be like, “Hey. My friend that needs a new roof…”

AP: Right. Totally.

How to get coffee with doctors and other referral sources

Joe Sanok: So take us through there’s a doctor or somebody that you want to network with. So you establish your target or your person. Like take us through how you did that because I think a lot of people get stuck on, “Okay. I want referrals from a doctor’s office.” Or “I want referrals from wherever” I don’t even know how to get coffee with that person, let alone do I know how to even like get them on the phone or like I don’t know any of that. So how’d you do it?

AP: So I think a lot of those locks in there like I don’t know how to do this is actually just resistance and people needing a reframe around networking. Because if you look at it just like relationship-building, then it’s not really so hard because we’re awesome at that. It’s really more about looking at your own resistance and where all these “I don’t knows” are really coming from.

So what I ended doing is just treating it exclusively like relationship-building. Like here’s this other therapist or here’s this eating disorder dietician or here’s this physician that maybe would be relieved to refer to me, and that’s one of the things I think about too, is my husband was in primary care for a long time and when there’s somebody sitting in their office with an eating disorder, it feels like a huge burden to have to manage all of that patient’s needs in 15 minutes.

But if they can share some of that responsibility with another clinician, there’s a relief there. And that helps kind of reframe it for me, too. Because I was really intimidated by networking with physicians, for instance. And instead of look at it like “Hey. I’m helping them out, too.” There’s a nice reframe.

So what I usually do for instance with another therapist because I think that’s an easier place to start and I’m all about starting easy.

Joe Sanok: Quick wins.

AP: Yeah, totally. It’s just to send an email. Most people don’t seem to love the phone anymore. So send them an email. I usually use the subject line, I’d love to connect with somebody that I don’t know. And that way, they’re not like, “Oh, is this a potential client?” or spam? And so I say like, “I love to connect” and then I’ll basically invite them to coffee or lunch. Say like, “I’d love to learn about you and your practice.”

And then usually, what I do is I initially set up a spreadsheet. You can make a list here but I’m kind of a spreadsheet geek. And I make a list of all like the people that I could meet that would be potential relevant referral sources. And it’s not that I’m going to meet like all you know 200 people on that list necessarily. But I’ve got some people to choose from, and it’s kind of like making a whole list of all the different blog posts you could write. It just makes that next step easier because you can kind of cherry-pick like, “Oh, this person doesn’t seem intimidating at all. Maybe, I’ll send them an email.”

Joe Sanok: So your first 200, what types of people are on that list?

AP: So for me as an eating disorder clinician, lots of eating disorder dieticians, other eating disorder therapists because therapists are great to network with because they get full and they need people to refer to because it doesn’t mean their phone stops ringing. Gynecologists for me as well, because a lot of folks have amenorrhea and lose their period. Family practice docs because often, they’re the ones who see it first. Who else?

Joe Sanok: I think that’s the hardest group in general I hear from the audience to break into because they’re so busy, and oftentimes there’s so many like drug reps and like so many people that just want 15 minutes of their time and oftentimes you can’t even get past that front phone call.

AP: Right.

Joe Sanok: How do you crack through that, and I’m sure it helps you know that your husband’s in the field?

AP: Right. Well, and he wasn’t at first. That’s what he was in school for. So I was kind of cold calling people who were number 1, intimidating to me and number 2, I didn’t really know how to work it. So it took a little while but I think using buzz words can be helpful. Like I’d love to talk to you about efficacious treatment for clients with eating disorders. And giving a little talk while also bringing them bagels and crème cheese in the morning or a little bit of lunch because that’s what the drug reps do. That’s the only reason that they let them in really is because they give them something to help their patients in the form of samples, and they also give them food.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. It’s funny. That’s what I found to be most successful too, is so we’ve started using MUSE the medication device in our practice, and so that has been a great kind of tangible thing to say, “Hey. We can show you and your clients what your brain looks like, and you could use that in your practice or you could refer people to us to use it. I just want to like show this to you, and we’d be happy to bring lunch.” I then often will ask the front desks to have like, “Where are places that you guys don’t get lunch from that you want it from?”

AP: Oh, that’s a good idea.

Joe Sanok: So the drug reps always bring it from wherever subway. And they want Mary’s Kitchen Port or the local little place because they don’t deliver out to where they’re practices or something like that and then the front desk staff are like, “We love Mental Wellness Counseling. They brought us Mary’s Kitchen Port.”

AP: Yeah. That is awesome. That’s a great idea.

Joe Sanok: So bringing lunch or bagels, having a little talk. What other things work with doctors in particular?

AP: Well, I think making sure your talk answers their questions. Or like response to a need they have. And so for me, like I’ll talk about like the best the most current labs to run for eating disorders and give handouts and offer to send it electronically.

And I’m trying to think of what else has been really effective. Sometimes, that a doctor will be willing to meet one-on-one, but I mean, I literally send somebody like maybe August and he was a guy I love to get together. I could probably get together in January on this day. And I was like, “All right. Let’s do it.” So it’s also remaining flexible.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. Wow! That’s a busy schedule.

AP: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: I wonder what that’s like. So you get kind of your list of a few hundred, you identify some people and then you schedule lunch like you hang out with them, have a good time then what?

AP: So while at lunch, I really try to attend to that person and get to know them as a person, not just as a clinician. And I discourage my practice building clients from like pitching their practice or talking about their practice at all, really until they’re asked about it and to think about it until they’re asked about their practice. They’re just making a new front. Because the great thing about networking in our field is we don’t have to use five-dollar words, we don’t have to have like study under somebody famous. People can tell by the space we hold and by how we attend to them and how we listen to them respond if we’re good at our job or not.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

AP: And that’s like that’s kind of magic to me.

Joe Sanok: Well, and I think it’s such a great point of like making a new friend because you’re kind of demonstrating your active listening whereas if you’re like, “Here’s Mental Wellness Counseling stuff and here’s what I do.” Like if that’s how you are in a social situation, then it’s like well in therapy, what do you like? Like I haven’t seen those skills. So it’s like a live action active listening session.

AP: Totally.

Joe Sanok: I love that idea.

AP: Yeah. And I think too, I mean, a lot of people – I’ve been in networking events where people kind of puff themselves up some, and they talk about these famous people they worked under, and I can see that as a clinician who’s coming from some insecurity and so I also know I’m far more likely to refer to somebody who holds a beautiful space and who I feel really safe with immediately than somebody who’s been with somebody famous.

Joe Sanok: Right.

AP: So I think that’s another thing to keep in mind is like your credentials once you get to a certain level like your credentials don’t matter very much. I mean, you should licensed to practice obviously, but you don’t have to prove it.

Joe Sanok: It’s like you’re in the party, you don’t need a ticket.

AP: Exactly. Totally.

Joe Sanok: So then after that lunch like what kind of follow-up do you do? I mean, you don’t want to be that person that like calls after a date, the next day and it’s like, “Hey, want to hang out again?”

AP: Right.

Joe Sanok: But I’m sure there’s like – what’s your – I don’t want to call it a formula, but what do you do after that?

AP: Yeah. So after that I – usually it’ll be like a week and I’ll – if there was something left hanging like an article or something. I might send that the next day like, “Oh, you know we talked about this. Here’s the thing for that.” But generally, I’ll just kind of send something the next week and be like, “I had such a good time.” And this is when I authentically mean it. Like if there is somebody I just didn’t super connect with, then they’re probably not going to refer to each other all the time. And that’s okay unless we have niches that really help the other person out.

And so I’ll usually just be like, “I had a great time.” I don’t send a formal thank you. I don’t think if you’re relaxed and loose in your conversation with the person be relaxed and loose in your follow-up, too, instead of overly formal or something.

Joe Sanok: Right.

AP: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: So there tends to be two kinds of big groups that listen to the podcast. There are those that are just starting out or even people in grad school. Shout out to all of you in grad school. So brand new people haven’t really launched like when you moved to Seattle and there are people who are growing in their practice. If they’re pretty established they maybe adding clinicians.

What kind of frequency for the brand new people like you’re launching in Seattle for example? Do you do this once a week with someone? Do it 10 times a week like every meal like what kind of goals should they set for themselves so that they have a strong launch as a new practice and kind of the same question for those that are have an established practice?

How introverts can network and still be themselves

AP: Yeah. So that’s a great question and I think it depends on the person. One of my practice builders said she was being really challenged with something personally around building her practice and she said, “This is about creating a dream, not managing another nightmare.” So I thought it was so brilliant and so when I talk about networking, a lot of my introverted folks get really tense and want to shut down and they’re like, “Do I have to?”

Joe Sanok: Right.

AP: Even when it’s framed as you know, it’s relationship-building and you’re great at that, because they have the expectation that I want them to do it the way I did it and I’m super extroverted, I’m super outgoing. And that works for me, and it works for people for who love people,but people who are burned out by people can have a much less intense frequency and still be super successful.

For me, when I moved to Seattle, and this sounds insane, but I had nothing else to do. I was building and didn’t have a lot of friends yet to fill my time, I made a lot of friends this way.

Joe Sanok: I’m just looking for a friend.

AP: Hey, somebody, just have coffee with me.

Joe Sanok: Please.

AP: But I met 90 people in 90 days.

Joe Sanok: Wow!

AP: And so I just…

Joe Sanok: In person?

AP: In person. Yeah.

Joe Sanok: Wow! And so many people do you think you reached out to be able to meet 90 people in 90 days?

AP: Probably like a 150.

Joe Sanok: Okay.

AP: And one of the ways that I found some of these people was when I networking with people and it was lunch, enjoying lunch with them. I’d say, “Who else should I meet?” Like who’s great? Who do you refer to a lot? And that actually got me in touch with people I wouldn’t have found online, the people who had established practices for 20 or 30 years, who I wouldn’t have even known existed, because I was looking online for all these people.

Joe Sanok: Well, my bet it’s way easier when you can say, “Hey, I just had lunch with so and so and your name came up. I didn’t even know you existed but she said that you’re awesome, and I’d love to have coffee.”

AP: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’re also getting feedback from people who have been doing it for a really long time. So they’ve seen a lot of changes in the private practice world, and that’s kind of and interesting thing to learn about.

And clinically, they’ve got years and years and years of experience, and that’s exciting to talk about, too. So, for me, as an extrovert, who’s also outgoing and has a lot of energy —

Joe Sanok: And didn’t have any friends at that time.

AP: Yeah. It really worked and that was great. I would say for some of my introverted folks that probably twice a week is plenty. And to spread it out and to definitely start easiest first, and to just make it a consistency thing like a promise to yourself of, “I will meet two people a week” so that you don’t go three weeks without meeting someone and then it feels like when you stop running and have to start again, because I wanted to be as easy as humanly possible. And consistency helps with that.

Joe Sanok: I always tell people in my practice like with clients or any consulting folks, “Just work on something you know you can sustain.” I think back to like my wife and I and every year, we’ve tried to be a little bit more ecological and it’s like, “Well, what can we can sustain?” Okay, the first year we were like in an apartment so camp posting was really tough. And so it was like, “Well, what can we do? Okay we could be very cognizant of making sure we just recycle everything.” Because that’s very easy entry point. And then like the next year, like what can we do a little bit more? What can we do a little bit more? And I think the same thing applies with networking. Like if you’re at zero, like once a week or once a month is a step forward for you. So do that.

AP: Totally. I agree.

Joe Sanok: Are there any different strategies for people that have an established practice, are growing a practice. Maybe they’ve plateaued the practice.

AP: I mean, I think taking the same tack of like relationship-building and they’re maybe getting to know some the newbies and can in some ways talk about their experience in practice building and to not be afraid to be vulnerable but don’t be desperate. You know, I still think about it like dating. You can say you have availability but if you’re like, “Hehehe.” You know, like you’re just a little pleased…

Joe Sanok: I have every lunch for the next four weeks open.

AP: Right. Exactly. Like it’s not attractive and it doesn’t necessarily help, help you build because if you’re about to have a panic attack at lunch, somebody might not trust sending you clients right now.

So yeah, I think with somebody with an established practice, just networking in general, it’s going to pay off. It might take a couple of months, but it’s going to pay off and following up and making sure you have a niche. I know Evan Center, you talked to her and that’s her super power, isn’t it? Without a niche you’re kind of forgettable when you’re networking.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

AP: You know like if you just say, “Yeah, I really love working with everyone then when somebody has somebody in their office that everybody that they can think of doesn’t work with, they might just send them to you. And you don’t necessarily want the people that nobody wants to work with, unless that’s your person.

Joe Sanok: It’s really interesting that idea of like kind of who are the newer folks in town or the up and coming. Like I found that like I didn’t even notice the shift where I’m in this like second generation of like private practice consultants you know, like Casey and the other established folks might be like first generation. I didn’t even know about any of those people. I just said I’m going to start blogging. And just like second generation and then you know, there’s all these new comers that it’s like I get so excited like helping like new comers launch quickly because for one, it’s just fun. But then you think about it. It’s like all these people are going to keep growing and so they’re going to become more and more successful and it’s like if they’re like, “Well, before I was somebody, Joe looked out for me and tried to help me grow.” Like that’s going to help me as well. And so I think that idea of like who are the nobodies right now that are just starting out? How can you really help them grow? And they’re just going to be thankful for that.

AP: Yeah. Well and like the people in my practice building groups, and present ones here in Ashville, they refer to me all the time. I don’t have any space and then it’s great because I can share love and spread like send those potential clients to people who I know are great in their building. And that’s another important thing I think. Once you get to a point where you’re full, instead of just not calling that client back, which doesn’t feel super respectful, to continue networking some so that you know who’s in the area and it kind of satisfies the matchmaker in me to feel like, “Oh, the way that this client describes their life right now would be such a great tip for this person and it also everybody wins.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. So we’re a private pay private practice and so probably half of the people that call end up saying you know, “We just have to have insurance. We don’t want to use out of network. We don’t want to pay.” And so we have a handful of people that we know really well that take insurance, and so it’s totally true that the more that you can help other people grow, the more that you end up growing as well.

AP: Absolutely.

Joe Sanok: So mentioned the practice building group. I do want to hear a little bit more about that. Those were awesome networking things. Oh, wait. No, no, no. We were going to do a couple of role plays because we had talked about how in grad school like so usually the most effective way to like learn something was seeing other people do it, and so I think this going to be really funny. And if you guys nothing out of this conversation, you could just laugh at Allison and myself.

All right. So I don’t know if you’ve like come up with situations for us to role-play or if you just want me to take on some random character and you got to network with me. How do you want to do this role play thing?

AP: Sure. Well, I think the thing I hear most often is people are afraid it’s going to be like nobody’s going to know what to say, and it’s going to be like an awkward first-date feeling. We’re like, we’re both just kind of like too quiet which might be hard to do for a podcast. But just like radio silence.

Joe Sanok: This is going to be awesome. Even though it’s a total failure.

AP: So that’s the point.

Joe Sanok: People are going to be like laughing while they’re running in the gym and then like it’s going to be a funny moment for them.

AP: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: So okay, the awkward silence.

AP: Yeah. Another one that I hear a lot is like someone who’s kind of puffed up about themselves, and it’s coming off as kind of arrogant and that can be kind of awkward to deal with.

Joe Sanok: So how would deal with that? Do you want to role play that and show me?

AP: We can role play it.

Joe Sanok: Okay. So I’m Joe Sanok and I have the number 1 podcast for counselors in private practice.

AP: That’s awesome. How did you get started with that?

Joe Sanok: Oh, I – it’s so weird. I just started podcasting infrequently a couple of years ago.

AP: Well, it doesn’t mean it’s totally blown up huh?

Joe Sanok: Yeah. I’m sorry this is so funny. Yeah, it’s really taken off especially last year when I started doing it frequently like every week and inviting more people onto it that I just wanted to talk to.

AP: That’s amazing. Did you have any idea it was going to get this big?

Joe Sanok: No. We’ve been growing by a couple of thousand each month for a while here and yeah, like I think, for me, though, it’s just it’s most fun to have such amazing statistics.

AP: I wish some people could think very funny with that.

Joe Sanok: So yeah, I think I have a hard time with those kind of people, too. Like the ones that just like like there’s a couple of people in town that it’s like anytime I see them, they’re like, “I just came back from the business after-hours and I was speaking at blah, blah, blah.” I feel like they can just read it on my face that I’m like, “I don’t really care.”

And so like you are like really genuine in that situation but at what point would you ever pivot away from just asking questions or would you just keep digging in as much as they wanted to talk about themselves?

Overcoming insecurities

AP: Yeah know I think usually the folks who kind of present in that way are people who are really insecure. So I just kind of lean on to the apparent arrogance and try to feed their ego a little bit probably because like they need somebody to be impressed by them. It’s not going to totally scratch that itch but it will for a second. But I just see this like self-worth stuff. Like they have some self-worth stuff to work on so I just try to be really gracious with it.

Joe Sanok: So what about the like quiet person you’re networking with because I feel like sometimes like there’s like this short answers. It doesn’t pull out a lot? I mean, is it the same as therapy or like what would you do in that situation?

AP: I just keep asking a lot of questions and really try to use all my like social cues to see like is it that they do not want to be talking to me? Because I’m so like energetic and outgoing and extroverted, I can be a little overwhelming sometimes. So I kind of imagine turning my volume down a little bit in order to not overwhelm people who are more quiet and calm and introverted than I am.

And so sometimes I’m like okay. Is it me that I’m being really like, “Huh?” And I can be a little match for people. And if that’s it like I try that, I try turning myself down without muting myself or being disingenuous but yeah. I just keep asking questions.

Joe Sanok: So it’s a lot of – it sounds like – I mean, it’s a lot of therapy skills but it’s also – I mean, that book, How to Win Friends and Influence People that it’s like a classic and that people just they love hearing their name, they love talking about themselves and just like drill into what are you about? Like how you deal with the podcast conversation, role playing kind of kick out.

AP: Right, which I love that like you were having such a hard time. You’re like —

Joe Sanok: Being arrogant.

AP: Normal Joe for a second and you’re like, “Wait a minute.”

Joe Sanok: It’s the stats that makes me so amazing. I know I have to use a different voice because otherwise that like feel like people are going to think that’s the real me, but they won’t. I hope they won’t.

AP: They won’t. They’re not pivoting that cue.

Joe Sanok: So let’s talk a bit about your practice building groups that you run because that’s where you’ve really kind of pivoted not away from networking but in a different way networking and really expanded your reach and expanded your income. You got some really cool things coming up next week, and we’ll talk about what that is, but just take us through like your practice building groups, because I just love them. It’s an awesome idea and the way that you’re structuring them.

AP: Thanks. Well, this is kind of something that it kind of flew out of my mouth accidentally. I was even networking like a group networking thing and there were probably 60 people and we all went around and said what we loved about what we did and you know, when there are that many people, when they first post the question you think about what your answer’s going to be but I kind of got lost along the way of listening to everybody’s answer and forgot what I was going to say, and I’ve been helping a lot of friends start practices just for I don’t know, two years or something just from what I’d learned. And I’ve been doing a lot of research because we’d just moved and I was rebuilding in a new city.

So I was looking at like who’s been like you were there and ZynnyMe like the new wave at that time of – that already have come out.

Joe Sanok: New wave consultants.

AP: It’s the new wave consultants.

Joe Sanok: I feel like that we should have some really cool music in the background.

AP: Totally. And like some like flippy hair or something. And so I was like digging on everybody’s stuff and learning and loving it and so it flew out of my mouth that I really love helping people set up private practices and this was a room full of therapists and so I got a lot of attention immediately afterwards of people being like, “Hey. Tell me about this helping people set up practice thing.” And so because I had so much interest, I was like, “Oh, I love group work. Why don’t I just create a curriculum based on what I’ve been telling all my friends and do groups?”

And so I started doing groups in person and did some groups here in North Carolina, did some groups down in Georgia and then I also did a group online and it has been – I don’t know. I feel like after every single group meeting, I feel like a dog running around in circles because I’m just like so excited and so fulfilled and feel so lit up.

And so, yeah. I’m going to do a new round of groups. They’re going to be starting in September. And I’m doing a big launch through August. And there are going to be a couple local groups, but primarily they’re going to be online using video conferencing.

Joe Sanok: That’s cool. So when was your first group? Like when was that that you announced this in front of people like accidentally like, “Oh, I should start a thing.”

AP: Yeah. So my first group was actually on my birthday or not my first group. When I announced it, it was on my birthday, August 20th of last year. And then the group started in November. So I needed to like write a curriculum, etc. And I wanted it to be solid.

Joe Sanok: Well and the reason I wanted to ask that because I knew it was pretty recent and just to show people how quickly you can pivot when you have an idea and you like verbalize it that in less than a year, you have started killing it and like just like what are some of the numbers you’re comfortable sharing in regards to people or like what do you want to share around that? Because I think just to show the power of just deciding to do something like you’ve done an amazing job in less than a year.

AP: Well, thanks. Yeah, I’ve had seven groups and they’re capped at six people each, because that’s what feels right. And they run six months long so I can’t do too many staggered at once. I can a lot at once if they’re all on the same timeline. And so yeah. Seven groups capped at six and it’s awesome.

How to start a consulting group

Like my very first group that went through that started in November, they’re out and they’re having their private practices, and they’re having this really amazing, practice these amazing lives, they’re not burned out. They’re doing better clinical work because they’re not burned out.

Joe Sanok: Shocking.

AP: Right. Funny how that works. Yeah.

Joe Sanok: Wow! So then you started thinking about, “Okay. How do I do this beyond just locally?” So take us through that process because I think that’s where a lot of people are like, “Okay. I have an idea” like maybe it’s an anger management group, whatever in-person group you have, there’s a way you can do it beyond just who can come locally.

So what did you start exploring and just information taking in, what helped you kind of get to this point to launch?

AP: Yeah. So okay well first, like I had my beta test of what is an online group going to look like? And you know, I was trying to find good video conferencing things because sometimes Skype will cut out, and that’s not going to be okay in my groups because we dig into some of the blocks. People cry in my groups. Like it’s – I don’t want somebody to be like mid-tears and they cut out.

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

AP: So I found a really reliable video conferencing system and that was really helpful.

Joe Sanok: Which part are you using?

AP: I’m using zoom.us because I also needed one that could hold seven people at once so that I can be on it with the six people.

Joe Sanok: How much does zoom.us cost?

AP: It’s like $9.99 a month. Not bad at all. And it’s super reliable.

Joe Sanok: Like nine dollars and ninety-nine cents a month?

AP: Oh gosh. Yes.

Joe Sanok: Okay. That’s what I assumed. I’d better ask. All of a sudden this thousand-dollar a month video conference. Like 10 bucks a month.

AP: Yeah, 10 bucks a month. And then like I practice what I preach. And I know that there’s a lot I have to learn, and I’m real big on having somebody to help me learn that and I was actually calling you just to network. It’s like, “Well, what are all these other practice builders about?” And so that’s when I called you or emailed you and we set up a call. And you were starting consulting with consultants and so I was like, “Hey. That’s a great fit.”

Joe Sanok: Yeah.

AP: And so, then I hired you because I knew you’d help me up level it and take it to where I wanted it to go. And I read Jeff Walker’s book, Launch, which is, I really like structure. I really like, I just really like structure and rules, honestly. It’s not cool, but it’s true.

Joe Sanok: I was so – it’s so funny. Like we were talking in one of consulting meetings, and I mentioned Launch and within like a week, I think you had emailed me back and you were like, “Okay. I’m finished with Launch. What next?”

AP: Yes.

Joe Sanok: And I was just like, “Holy cow!” Like that was awesome. Well done.

AP: Yeah. I get it done and I have a little outline that I based off of Launch that is what created this launch so I’ve got – he encourages like a three-video series. We were just giving content for free and just teaching people. So I filmed those and that’s exciting to be and what it’s like to give that out.

Joe Sanok: What are the titles? What are the titles of those? Because I think you did a great job with those.

AP: Well, thanks. So the first one is How to Not Hate Networking. And the second one is The Secret Weapon of Getting Tons of Referrals and the third one is Why Your Competition is Irrelevant.

Joe Sanok: So those are going to go live next week. Tell us a little bit about if people want to see those videos how they can get access to the videos.

AP: Yeah. So they can. My website is abundancepracticebuilding.com, and they can get on my mailing list there. They also can get a – like when they sign up for the mailing list, they’ll get a free private practice checklist that has resources and I try to make it fun to read instead of like find you NPI number.

Joe Sanok: I’m wondering if we – and I know we’d brainstormed this. If we set up a lead page that was like abundancepracticebuilding.com/joe so people like know like here’s exactly how you sign up. I just would hate for anyone that wants to like get the videos like get lost and all the other great content you have, too.

AP: Yeah. Absolutely, we’ll do that. And then we have a perk for anybody who does sign up for the groups which is I think is going to be really fun but we’d talked about doing a 45-minute Q & A call with both me and Joe for anybody who uses the promo code joe when they sign up for the group.

Joe Sanok: Yup. So, it’s going to be a group call. So say we have you 50 people or 10 people that sign up through that promo code joe and then we’ll do a group call where you can ask Allison and I anything you want, and it’s going to be awesome.

AP: Yeah.

Joe Sanok: Cool. Tell us a little bit about what the course is going to be because I think that – I mean, like tell us more about what they get out of the practice building calls with you.

AP: Yeah. Absolutely. So the curriculum is essentially covering everything over six months’ time that you should need to really have a thriving practice. My goal is for people to be really rolling by the end of the group. I do have some people who started before they were ready to go ahead and like start a practice but then they have all the building blocks and they’re good to go.

So we talk about networking, we talk about some nuts and bolts kinds of things as well that I think are important and people seem to want to know like if people do want to get on insurance panels how does that go, where do they go for that?

We talk about money mindset and that’s the one that actually brings the most tears, honestly because we all have a lot of stuff around money and sometimes where we get caught in this idea of like we’re helpers and we shouldn’t really be charging people for what we provide. And I disagree with that idea.

Joe Sanok: Why do you disagree with that? I agree in disagreeing with that idea. But tell me why you disagree with the idea that I’m agreeing with you on.

AP: As therapists, we’re often friends with a lot of other therapists, and we’re often friends with people who are really clear on what to do with feelings. And we don’t necessarily know and understanding get that what we do is really amazing. And what we can provide for someone in helping them change their lives they can’t get anywhere else. We provide huge value. And it makes sense that we would be paid for that huge value any way that keeps us feeling like our lives are sustained the way that we want them to be, and we have time to spend with our families and our friends and doing the kinds of things that really fill us up so we can continue to be really awesome at our jobs.

Joe Sanok: Yeah. I was just thinking as you said that a friend of mine was just visiting and she was sharing with us just some of her past counseling experience and hearing about the – like she was using words like profound, epiphany, life-changing and it’s like to let go of whatever baggage we’ve carried around you know, by going through therapy, like where else can you get that? And not that that means we just like take people’s money hand over fist but and we do it ethically, but I mean, that has a lot of more value than just like changing someone’s toilet or making the toilet work again or like making their car work which are all great professions, but if we have – like those people get paid well. Like I know how much it costs to get your car fixed and like what about you as a family or as a person. So that’s great you challenged that, and I can why it would bring out some tears, though.

AP: Yeah. Absolutely.

Joe Sanok: What are some of the reasons that you think that really taps into kind of people’s emotions?

AP: Well, we all have our money stories about how we were raised whether we were raised with so much or whether we were raised with so little, whether it’s guilt or whether it’s scarcity. And I think that for some of us, there are some programs that really hit the idea that you should only work with the underserved if you’re going to be like a good social worker or something like that. And if the underserved is not your population like if you’re not effective with the underserved, then don’t work with them.

Joe Sanok: Right.

AP: I’m real big on like you can have what you want. You can work with who you want to work with, and everybody deserves help in the emotional areas of their lives. There’s nobody who’s not deserving of help whether they’re a country club sucker mom or someone addicted to heroin on the streets. Every single one of us deserves that kind of care.

Joe Sanok: Could you imagine in most grad programs saying, “You know what? I really want to work with the 1% like that’s who I want to focus on” like I mean, that you’d be like you are kicked out of the program.

AP: Totally. Yeah.

What every counselor needs to hear and why private practice is surprisingly easy to master

Joe Sanok: So often or you’d get just like reamed. That’s great that you guys go through that. So if every counselor in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?

AP: I would say you already have all the skills you need to be successful in private practice and that it’s surprisingly easy to be successful if you have a plan and you have support and you have patience. And also that private practice totally lives up to the hype. That it’s really awesome.

Joe Sanok: I love that. It totally lives up to the hype. That’s great. So how can people get a hold of you Allison?

AP: Sure. They can go to abundancepracticebuilding.com. That’s the best way.

Joe Sanok: Awesome. Well, Allison Puryeat, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast, and I’ll have all those links in the show notes. Also links to your course coming up, links to the books we talked about, and the websites and all that and I look forward to talking to you more.

AP: Awesome. Thank you so much, Joe.

Joe Sanok: Right. See you.

AP: Bye.

Joe Sanok: So if you go to practiceofthepractice.com/session91 you will get all sorts of those links that we chatted about, some of the people that she had been following from that generation 1.

Also, feel free to go to abundancepracticebuilding.com/joe to sign up for those videos. They’re going to be awesome, and those launch next week and you have full access to them. So please check those out.

I’ll also have a link for that in the show notes. Again, thank you so much Brighter Vision for being a sponsor. We love your work. You guys do just great, a great job on websites.

Again, thanks for all of you tuning in. This would be just me talking into a microphone and hanging out with myself if you weren’t listening. You know, as a kid, I actually – my grandma she had – who sort of like those like baby monitors except – I don’t know. It was like you could call throughout the house and I would do just like pretend radio show where I would be like, “And up next, we have MC Hammer.” And so it was just my grandma Busha, who was hanging out with me when I was doing that. But I feel a little bit of that, except now there’s an audience beyond just Busha.

And so thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. You guys have an awesome week and you’re doing a great job. Keep it up. See you.

Special thanks to the bands Silence is Sexy and Proleter. We like your music.

And this podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, nor publisher nor the guest is rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one. See you.