Beth Farrell, COO, and I started this company in 2009 with a purposeful mission to ease the plight of seniors and of families in their quest to meet the needs of aging loved ones. The reality is that the average person is unaware of the vast array of services available when they are faced with challenges brought on by aging. They do not understand Medicaid and Medicare, or Veteran’s benefits. They do not know what to do when a parent shows early signs of dementia. They are overwhelmed by the choices of long term care, and how to pay for it. They do not know what documents to have in place to manage the affairs of an incapacitated loved one. Or how to make frail elders more safe in their homes. Best summarized, they do not know what they do not know. As a result, most people are left to pull the pieces together during a time of crisis with little guidance, often discovering too late that there was a better way. I lived this experience as a family caregiver to a grandmother and aunt who suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease, and I have watched many legal clients and friends struggle with these challenges as well.
We decided that our best way to help seniors and their families is by educating and connecting a vast national network of people serving seniors who do have the answers and can provide assistance. This is a community for businesses serving seniors to thrive. Our Lifelines Academy offers easily accessible online classes that teach providers new services and best practices, as well as necessary continuing education accredited courses. Our Lifelines Network facilitates relationships between providers who need to work together to provide holistic solutions to clients. The provider who first serves a senior or family caregiver in need is in the position to identify for that client the other services and providers that can play a vital role in meeting the client’s needs. By facilitating referral relationships and strategic partnerships between and among providers, and ensuring that providers know about all the other services their client’s can benefit from, everyone involved wins.
As an example, imagine that an adult child shares with his financial planner that his mother has just fallen in her home and broken her hip. The client is overwhelmed by his new role as a caregiver and doesn’t know where to turn. If that financial advisor is in the Lifelines Network, he will immediately have access to a network of qualified providers to whom he can refer his client. That may include the name of a Geriatric Care Manager, a home healthcare provider, a geriatric physician, a senior move manager and an aging in place specialist who can modify the home to make it safe for his mother to live in. The financial advisor has gained an awareness of all of these services because of the Lifelines Network, and is in a position to add tremendous value for his client, while also creating good will among sources of referrals from other providers in the Lifelines Network.
Beth and I are on a journey to create a Lifelines Network that is uniquely distinct from existing networking forums.
First, Lifelines Network is designed to be a forum to learn the role that other providers play in the lives of clients and to discover ways to work more closely together for the betterment of clients who have many needs that can only be met by a team of providers. We do not seek to replace the value of membership in trade associations, which provide a forum for sharing knowledge and developing expertise in a singular type of service or industry. Instead, Lifelines Network intentionally brings together a wide variety service providers who are complementary.
Second, we are harnessing the power of technology to provide more cost effective and efficient use of providers’ limited time and money, while offering broad exposure in the marketplace. By hosting online, virtual networking events, we enable members to conveniently share information from their office or home where they log on and benefit from 45 to 60 minutes of targeted marketing. Further, we are using technology to enable members to offer educational presentations using our online education platform. This gives members an opportunity to further their recognition as an expert in their chosen field. Finally, we are developing social media opportunities for our members; this begins with profiling new members in our e-newsletter, on our Facebook page and in our LinkedIn Group. And all members have a business listing and profile on our website.
Third, we are growing a limited, selective membership. All applications are reviewed for core competencies and we require all members to have cleared a criminal background check. We do not seek to have a limitless online yellow pages of providers. Further, we require members to be the actual owners, service provider or senior level executives so that members will be interacting with the decision-makers during networking events. These limitations on membership are also important in that each type of provider will be among few and not many at virtual and “in-person” Lifelines Network networking events.
Finally, Beth and I are committed to helping Lifelines Network members succeed and we recognize that this means membership needs to result in enhanced business, and resulting revenue. Accordingly, in addition to facilitating referrals between members, we are creating exciting opportunities to maximize the ROI of members’ advertising and marketing dollars. We do this by creating cooperative advertising and marketing opportunities. Print advertisement, online banner ads, and conference attendance and exhibiting are all expensive as well as time consuming to develop and execute. By having Lifelines Network purchase large, attractive print advertisements and “reselling” space within such ads to members, all members who buy into such an advertisement get better bang for their buck. Along the same lines, a Lifelines Network booth at a conference can showcase a number of members who elect to pay to have a presence at the Lifelines Network booth, thus gaining exposure for a fraction of the cost of individually attending and exhibiting.
All of the initiatives referenced above will be offered to members over the next several months, with our first virtual event to take place within 4 weeks, along with in-person events in Tampa Bay and Naples in May.
To all who have already joined the Lifelines Network as a Founding 500 member, thank you for embarking on this mission with us and for entrusting us with your hard earned dollars. For those considering joining, we are available to answer your questions and look forward to hearing from you. And to all, we invite your ideas and suggestions on how we can make Lifelines Network and Lifelines Academy your most valued investment in your business.