There are probably a lot of therapists in your town vying for the attention of your ideal referral sources.
If you want those referrals, you really need to know how to create a relentless demand for your services. Right? You need to get noticed by those ideal referral sources. You know… the ones that have access to and influence over your ideal clients.
Those referral sources really are the gatekeepers between your ideal clients and you. Many of them are health (or other types of) professionals, so they are usually very protective or (at least) careful about who they recommend to their people. Establishing credibility and trust are key to you getting seriously considered by these gatekeepers.
But first… you need to get NOTICED!
In order to get noticed by referral sources they must be assured that you are an expert when it comes to those ideal clients you share. Let’s say your ideal client is someone who has an anxiety disorder. The first order of business is for you to be able to convey that you are an expert in treating anxiety disorders.
Next, you must know what your referral source’s needs are, with regard to your ideal client. Is she a psychiatrist who is looking for someone to provide therapy and support and collaboration in treating the client? Is she a teacher who needs to find someone to help this child better manage the anxiety so he can become more effective at school? Is she a pastor who has had a couple of meetings with this person but realizes he now needs a higher level of care? You need to know what your referral source needs and expects from and for this referral.
Figure out the most relevant; most important result you provide with your services and demonstrate (to the referral source) what benefits you give (to them and to the client). Let’s say you use mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to help clients with anxiety develop better coping skills and decrease stress. Let the referral source know (for example):
(to the psychiatrist) “I use mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to help clients with anxiety develop better coping skills. This helps them better manage their symptoms. It also helps to decrease their stress so the medication has a chance to work.”
(to the teacher) “I use mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to help kids better manage their anxiety and decrease their stress. They are then able to focus better on what is going on around them; at home and at school”
(to the pastor) “I use mindfulness based cognitive therapy to help people deal with and manage the source and symptoms of their anxiety. We work together on skills and, if needed, I will make a referral to a psychiatrist for an evaluation and medication management as well. I’ll even enlist family support if appropriate. I’ll do everything I can to help your congregation with their mental health needs.”
Bam! You’ve described what you do in terms of benefits to the client as well as the referral source.
The client wins — the referral source wins — you win!
And… since you are talking their language (how you can benefit them), you are more likely to be noticed and remembered.
Follow through on what you say, and you’re on your way to building trust and credibility; you’re on your way to a long and meaningful relationship with your referral source.