3 DOs and 3 DON’Ts of Networking with Other Dentists

I’m really going to enjoy writing this post. I admit, that’s not true of each one! But this is truly my comfort zone, because I’m going to give you concrete, actionable advice that you can use today.

The question is: “What do I actually say when I’m trying to network?”

And like your favorite teacher back in school, I’m going to give you the answer before the test.

3 DOs

1. Be sincere

Find something you like about the way they do business, tell them about it, and mean it.

“Looking around at practices in the area, I saw that yours has over 500 positive Google reviews. I was blown away! I’d love to chat with you about how you did that, and how I can do the same when I own a practice one day.”

2. Be specific

“I want to buy a dental practice.” Great! But that doesn’t tell me much. What exactly are you looking for? And why? You should know the answers to those questions and be open with that information. 

“I’m looking for a four-operatory general practice in the Charlotte area.”

“I specialize in cosmetics, and want to buy a small but busy practice outside Ft. Worth, collecting at least $750K annually.”

3. Be personal

The practice you buy will be someone’s baby. The seller probably spent the last 30 years here, and doesn’t want to hand it off to some robot. Convey something personal about yourself, especially if you can tie it to ownership of that practice.

“I spent 8 years practicing dentistry in the Navy, and I’m excited to take that discipline and passion into private practice.”

“I’m a mother of two little boys, 8 and 6, and always wanted to raise them near Boston.”

3 DON’Ts

1. Don’t be too fast

“I want to buy your practice” is a terrible opening line. It wouldn’t work on you, and it won’t work on anyone else. Remember, when you’re networking, you might end up buying this person’s practice, but it’s even more likely someone in your network will connect you to someone they know who’s selling.

“I’d love to take you out for lunch and pick your brain for an hour about the area and what I should know if I buy a practice here in the future.”

2. Don’t be selfish

Yes, you’re doing this for you. (Maybe I should title this one “don’t be too selfish.”) But you’re networking with other people, who have their own interests and time constraints. Respect their time, and respect their knowledge.

“Thanks so much for chatting with me! I’ve got a thousand more questions, but I know you’ve got to get back to it. Can I take you to lunch again next month?”

3. Don’t be awkward

This one is related to #1, but it’s slightly different. The key word here is tact. Remember that buying a dental practice is a big deal for you, yes—but it’s also intensely personal for the selling dentist. You’re trying to buy the business they’ve likely spent two or three decades building. 

So avoid asking the wrong things, especially at the wrong time. And the networking phase is the wrong time to ask for any sensitive information. The best example of this is money stuff. I’ve seen some buyers get excited to dig into the numbers ASAP, and ask for tax returns, profit and loss statements, and so on. If you do that too early in the process, the seller will likely be—rightly!—annoyed, maybe enough to ruin the relationship.

Financial information, legal documents—these are important, and you’ll need them at some point! But that’s why you have an accountant, banker, and attorney in your corner: so that they can ask the awkward questions at the right time, while you maintain your goodwill with the seller.

Once you find that great practice, you need someone in your corner who can help you navigate the purchase and help you assemble an amazing team in your corner. That’s where we come in. So give me a call and we’ll get you where you want to be in your career.