This post was contributed by
Martine Brousse, AdvimedPro
a mentor for those who are building an advocacy practice.
The majority of patient advocates are independent business owners, performing a number of tasks themselves. I am my own CEO, employee, bookkeeper, IT gal, advertising agency and, on Friday afternoons, cleaning lady.
While a number of these jobs can be outsourced, I encourage mentees and advocates to take the time and make the effort to perform one specific task themselves: getting “out there”. Not only is public speaking a great way to get your name out and lock in potential clients, but generating interest in and informing a public about advocacy, all too unaware of our profession, is a good thing for all of us.
Over the past few years, I have accepted every opportunity to speak, network, inform, educate and get the word out about patient advocates. Here are some examples that you might consider:
- Volunteer to give workshops for local support groups or patient organizations such as cancer centers (mine are on reducing and managing the cost of cancer).
- If your niche relates mostly to older folks, contact senior centers or retirement homes, to give talks about Medicare coverage (especially during enrollment season!), answer specific questions, discuss little known benefits or offer cost-cutting advice.
- Take up a journalist’s offer to discuss a topic. Last year I taped a segment for CBS (alas, it did not air), participated in radio talks for Fox and NPR and contributed to a few written articles. I am still getting new clients from a piece the Los Angeles Times published a few years back that featured my business. “Fame” lives on…thank you, Internet!
- Look into giving a presentation at advocates’ conventions or gatherings. In 2016, I put together a proposal for a lecture and sent it to a national convention’s organizer, who accepted it. I met a number of participants and gave my talk to several dozens more.
- Write blogs on your area of expertise, or compile a book or manual. I self-published a guide for cancer patients, which cost about $ 3.50 per printed copy. I gave a number away at workshops, as a way to promote my expertise.
- Consider offering a class, or course, through the community outreach arm of a local college or university. An international school in Los Angeles asked me to educate their French students on navigating the US system, resulting in a number of clients. Creating a pdf on the basics took a few hours of my time back in 2015, but has been given out to every student since, ensuring that my company’s name is linked to the information.
- Look for opportunities to speak at local events, at one of AdvoConnection’s SIG groups, at forums or health fairs. My local library welcomes presentations from patrons, as long as they are not sales pitches.
Public speaking can appear daunting, but the key to success is simply a good preparation. I found that the introvert in me really enjoys sharing information, presenting solutions, and spreading the word about advocacy.
I have joined Toastmasters, a global public speaking and leadership movement, where skills are honed, advice is invaluable and support is generous. In fact, my second speech there was on … patient advocacy!
Your community college, or other local schools or groups might also offer classes or seminars, as would private coaches.
It should be made clear that not all speaking engagements result in a monetary reward. In fact, most have been voluntary and unpaid in my case. However, doesn’t growing as a business often require a louder voice, improved skills, and gaining new abilities?
Public speaking, in any form, is a fantastic way to do so. Who knows, you just might, as I have, find it fun too!