Empowering Women Chiropractic – 7 Tips to Turn Small talk into Big Connections – Dr. Lindsey

Welcome to ChiroSecure’s Empowering Women in Chiropractic. The Facebook Live show for successful women by successful women, proving once again, women make it happen.

Join us each week as we bring you the best in business growth, practice management, social media marketing, networking, leadership, and lots more. If it’s about women in practice and business, you’ll hear it here.

Now join today’s host, Dr. Nicole Lindsey, as she talks overhead, debt and creating other sources of income. And now here’s Dr. Nicole.

Hi, welcome to ChiroSecure’s Empowering Women in Chiropractic. I’m your host for today’s show, Dr. Nicole Lindsey of Dominate Chiromarketing, where I teach chiropractors how to build profitable relationships with MDs to bridge gaps and to build their practice. So if you ever have any questions about building relationships with MDs, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Before we jump into our topic today, I just want to, as always, give ChiroSecure a thank you and we appreciate everything you do for us. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here today delivering great information and staying connected.

Have you ever noticed how everything in this world, especially the tangible things, are getting smaller? When we look at telephones, how big they used to be. Now you have these small cell phones, cameras, they’re getting smaller and we went from boomboxes to iPods, which we don’t even use anymore. Computers. I mean everything is getting smaller. Not only are the tangible things getting smaller, but the intangible things are as well, like attention spans of people, like our time, right? Our time is getting smaller and smaller it seems. With technology comes faster and faster things. It used to be email was dial up. Now it’s, I can’t imagine it getting any faster, but you know that it will.

We’re so busy, we’re working jobs, we’re creating side gigs, other businesses. We have kids, we’re building our practices. Life is getting busier and busier and things keep speeding up along with that. And not only is this happening for you, but this is actually happening for your patients and virtually everybody. And the bottom line is that we don’t have time. So this is where the concept of small talk comes into play. If you can small talk properly, then you can really, really use that to your advantage to make big connections in your practice and outside of your practice.

So that’s what we’re going to talk about over the next several minutes. Small talk, what it is. We’re going to talk about how you can use small talk in your practice to build retention. And we’re going to talk about how to use small talk to build relationships with MDs and use it for other avenues of marketing. And then I’m going to give you seven of my most favorite small talk tips. So what is small talk? Small talk gets such a bad rap, when we think about making small talk, we think about the BNI meetings or marketing meetings at the Chamber of Commerce. I know I’ve done that myself, where you go with business cards in hand and you’re just making useless conversation with people because you just really want to get the referrals.

When, in reality, small talk can be very powerful if it’s done properly. Small talk is the conversation that you’re having with the cashier as you go through the checkout line. Small talk, it’s the chatter you make with parents sitting next to you as you sit on the bleachers at your child’s sporting event. Small talk is the conversation, if you’re a chiropractor, that you have with your patients each and every time they come in for an adjustment. And if you’re a CA, listen to this, it’s the small talk that you’re having with the patients as they’re checking in each and every visit. That’s what small talk is and it’s happening all the time.

It’s actually happening less and less because of digital media, because more and more people are hiding behind their phone and their computers and not practicing this. I’ve done it myself. I’m guilty. My daughter was getting her hair cut a couple of weeks ago and I know the hairstylists. I know a couple of the hairstylist in there and instead of standing by my daughter while she’s getting her haircut and making small with the hairstylist, I decided to sit in the chair and pull out my phone and go through my emails, clean out my inbox and hide behind my cell phone instead of having small talk.

Now you might be thinking, “Well, is small talk a waste of time? Or is it an opportunity to make something happen?” Well, the thing about small talk is if it’s done right, you can really connect big. And then, if you look at it from that perspective, there are opportunities everywhere. So instead of not making conversation with people when you have the opportunity, you’re missing the possibility to talk to a person about healthcare. You may find out that they’re suffering and they need your help and they need to come in. So that could be a potential patient.

You could also [inaudible 00:06:49] small talk with setting up a possible marketing event at a business, maybe setting up a lunch and learn for staff members that are under stress or need help with posture. There are opportunities everywhere if we learn to small talk and if we do it properly. What we don’t want to do when we small talk is, this is the picture that comes to mind when you think about making small talk. You’re crazy busy. You’re exhausted. You have to drive the kids to school and then get to your workout class by 8:00 AM so you don’t even really have time to brush your hair. You throw it up in a ponytail, you put your workout clothes on, you get your child ready for school, you’re in charge of carpool that day. So you’re multitasking. You get everybody to school. You show up to the gym for your CrossFit class at 8:00. And you’re 10 minutes early.

So what you do is you grab your phone and you sit on the floor waiting for class to begin and there’s 15 other people waiting for class as well. But instead of making small talk, you put your phone in front of your face. You don’t make eye contact, you look down, you’re texting, you’re not smiling. This is what we don’t want to do. This is how you disconnect. Instead of connect during small talk. Small talk, it definitely is acquired. It’s not something that you’re born with. You develop it. The more you practice, the better you get at it.

Now, my personal motto in life, if you will, is go deep or don’t go at all. And what that means is, and I think it really ties into what we’re talking about here, is I had a patient come in and right away I liked her a lot, and I thought, “You know, I could really become friends with this girl.” She was a personal injury case, and I’m old school chiropractor, I read Dr. Barge’s book, Be The Doctor, Doctor, right. And never befriend your patients. There’s that fine line that you just don’t want to cross when you’re treating a patient.

So at the end of her care, when she was released from her acute care, her and I both had this feeling and we had this conversation and we said, “You know, is it okay to date? Is it okay to go out to lunch now that she’s not on this acute care plan anymore?” And we both thought that it was okay. So we did. We went out for lunch and about 10 minutes into our conversation, she asked me a very personal question and my initial reaction, I hesitated, and then I thought my motto, “Go deep or don’t go at all.” Right. We don’t have a lot of time on this planet. We don’t have a lot of time, period. She’s a young mother. She has a small child.

I’m a mother, I have a busy practice. When’s the next time we’re going to get together to go out to lunch? I don’t know. But here’s the thing, if I don’t open up and be vulnerable, and be willing to go deep in conversation, I may miss the opportunity to really connect with this person. And I’m just scratching the surface. So I really feel that that’s important when it comes to small talk, that the sooner you’re open to being vulnerable, to just being you, to being real, the stronger the potential for this connection to be really big will be.

And this is really the secret to making small talk turn into a big connection is to be willing to put that guard down. And a great way to test your ability to make small talk turn into a big connection is when you leave a conversation with a patient, whether it’s having lunch with somebody or a patient leaving your office, if that patient in their heart is saying, “I really dig Dr. Nicole, I want to know more about her.” If that patient is saying that or feeling that and you can feel that, then well done. That’s your test and you passed it. Now, if you get that feeling when they’re walking away from you and the adjustment is finished, that that connection just did not happen on that visit, that they really could leave your office after that adjustment and never think about you again until the next time they come in. Then you failed the test.

But that’s how you want to think about making small talk give you big connections, is every single time you come in contact with somebody, are they leaving with that feeling? Are they thinking that they want more of you? Now, as a chiropractor, we get the opportunity to practice this a lot. We have patients coming in all the time. Last week we had close to 250 visits. So that’s a lot of conversing with patients. A lot of small talk that we’re having. So the secret to making connection with such small time will really help you build retention for your practice.

There’s a lot of things we can do to build retention, right? We can wow them in so many ways. But one of the best ways to do this is to try and make this connection strong. And if you’re not the greatest at it yet, then think about hiring staff members that are. You may not ever, you may be really awkward, and if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking that you’re really not good at this, that you really don’t like making small talk with people, that you never quite feel right about it. That’s okay. It will come to you the more you practice, but you make sure that you have somebody at your front desk, or a Tech CA that’s assisting them with therapies, or an Office Manager or an Associate or somebody in your practice that can make this happen. Because the patient really needs to feel that connection in order to want to keep coming back.

And let’s face it, there’s going to be weeks in your days and in practice that you are just not on your game. In fact, I had one of those yesterday. And there’s a lot going on in my personal world and my husband and I had to ground my daughter. And this is something that, if you’re a parent and you’ve ever had to do this, it’s not pleasant, it hurts us just as much as it hurts them. And we had to do it. So I came into work and I told my team, “Look, I’m off my game, so I need you all to step up. I need you to help me connect with patients today.” So it’s okay, you’re going to have those days. Just make sure you make your team aware of that so they can make sure every patient feels that connection when they come in.

And if it means you have a no cellphone policy, which we do as well, we have signs up all over our practice that say, “Please, turn your cell phone off.” And that way the patients are engaged with us, so we have a better chance of connecting with them. And connecting with them is not about spouting out every fact, every study that’s out there about chiropractic, about healthcare. Sometimes it’s about giving them a hug. It’s about asking them about their children, their spouse, asking them what their plans are for the weekend, complimenting their clothes, finding out their story, more about their life. That’s what connection is all about.

Funny story, my associate and I, we work side by side adjusting patients. And we had a patient come in, and he saw that patient for the past four visits or so. And then the patient came in and for whatever reason I got to adjust this patient. And after I got done adjusting the patient, the patient within five minutes of conversing and having small talk, the patient tells me all of the stuff that the patient has never opened up and never told my associate. And the associate looked at me when the patient left and said, “How did you get all of that? How did you do that?” And I told him my associate, I said, “This is something we’re going to train on. It’s 20 years of practice and it’s the art of small talk. And you can do it too.”

So practicing how to truly connect with your patients will do more for your retention than anything will. Now. It wasn’t long ago that I would have workshops in my office and I do them weekly on different topics. And I’d get 50 or so people there. And they were huge hits. But now it just seems like people don’t have time. They want it digitally, they want it on Facebook Live, right? They want to watch it later so they can fast forward and shorten it and save time. And I get it. I’m like that too. So not only are our patients having less time for us in the office, but when it comes to marketing, our potential leads for setting up marketing events, they’re having less time for us as well.

So this is one of the strategies I teach my clients when it comes to building relationships with MDs. How to do a 10-minute meet and greet. Because let’s face it, MDs, they are busy. And it’s not uncommon for an MD to work right through their lunch shift and not even take a lunch. They simply do not have time. So instead of having them sit down for an hour with you, which may be impossible for them, let’s do some small talk. Let’s shorten that to five, 10 minutes, and really connect big. So this is what the 10-minute meet and greet is about.

Now, the seven tips, my most popular tips that I give to my clients I’m going to give you right now, which will really help making the small talk with the MDs make big connections for you. Number one is you got to get your body language right. You want to make sure that before you even utter a word to that MD, that you smile. You make sure you make eye contact. Even if you’re scared, unfold your arms, relax, lean in, nod your head and be sincere. That’s number one.

Number two is to lower your expectations. Don’t go in there thinking that this MD is going to be the end all be all to all of your marketing woes. It may, but it may not. So the sooner you lower your expectations, it will help you relax. And let me tell you, nobody wants to small talk or have any kind of conversation with you if you’re uptight. So being more relaxed, lowering your expectations will help you open up and listen so that you can focus on what the MD is saying.

Number three, you want to lead with a declaration, not a question. So, many of us will ask a question that the person does not want to answer right off the bat when they don’t know you or feel comfortable. So for example, for an MD, you might lead with something to break the ice and say, “You know, it wasn’t long ago that the thought of a chiropractor and MD working together was nothing but a punchline for a joke.” And that can open up conversation about how things have come.

Number four, then you want to follow up with questions. And the questions, they need to not be open ended, or I’m sorry, close ended. You don’t just want to ask a question that’s a yes or no. You want this question to be open-ended, so that it opens up for more interesting conversation. Encourage that person to tell you who they are. Everybody has a story. Every single person. You have one, the person talking to you has one. Learn their story. This is how you make a true connection is by getting people to talk about theirself. Even the MD.

Number five is to be prepared to shift the conversation. There’s going to be that awkward silence that happens and that’s okay, but be prepared to pivot and externalize the focus. Maybe you talk about the painting, maybe you talk about the staff members in the office. Shifting is going to be a very important part of small talk and making it successful.

Number six is meeting on common ground. Finding something to talk about. Your hometown, your sports, who your teams are, dogs, music, hobbies. Figure it out. Find something that you can meet this person on common ground with. One of the MDs that I was doing a 10-minute meet and greet with, I found out on their bio that they had a music store while they were in med school and I happen to collect records. That’s one of … my husband and I are passionate. So we started talking about music and we spent five minutes building rapport meeting on that common ground, which was amazing.

Number seven, my final tip for you today, is share something very honest about yourself. This can really, again, help you to bring that guard down so that you can be more genuine and this will open up the conversation to be more productive. So I hope that these tips will help you make your small talk become more productive so that you can make bigger connections. With technology, there’s less time, there’s less attention spans. So this is happening with patients, with your potential patients, with people you’re marketing to, MDs in your community. So I want you to think about these steps so you can turn that small talk into big connections. You only have so much time, so leave them with a lasting impression. I hope you enjoyed this. Don’t forget to tune in next week to our show where Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp will be your host. Hope you have a wonderful day.

Join us each week as we bring you the best in business growth, practice management, social media marketing, networking, leadership, and lots more. If it’s about women in practice and business, you’ll hear it here.

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