3 steps to get your foot “in the door”

How do I get my cards and other marketing materials past the “gatekeeper”?  That is a question I hear with regularity when mentoring mental health professionals into Private Practice.

Let me tell you a story…  When I first started out in practice, there was an huge OB/GYN group in town that I knew could provide me with enough referrals on their own to keep me busy.  They had 4 or 5 docs and several nurse practitioners, and they were easily the busiest practice in our town at the time.

I knew that I could provide them with a great referral source (me!); I also knew that I could provide great service to their patients.  I could be of value to them.  But, how was I going to get them to know those things?

I knew whatever I sent to them would be opened by someone other than the docs.  I went there to drop off things, and I was pleasantly greeted by the receptionist, but I wasn’t convinced she would relay my “stuff” and my value message to the docs like I would.  Hmmm…

Well here’s what I did.

1.  I did my homework and found out who the office manager was.  I called her and introduced myself and told her what I did and asked what I could do to help her and her docs.  I think I surprised her with that question, but it really made her think and soon we really got to know each other.  After that, I sent ALL of my materials directly to her (her suggestion) so she could make sure the docs got everything.  I always included a note thanking her for her help and reminding her to let me know if there was anything else I could do for her.  Every Christmas I had a little something special for her when I dropped off something for the office.  I got to know (and like) the gatekeeper!

2.  I made sure the things I sent to the practice were unique.  I had to stand out, or they had no reason to change the way they were doing business (with others in town).    I sent my packages in large envelopes or boxes.  My flyers were on colorful paper.  I gave them stock cards for their waiting room.  My business cards were larger than most.  Your “stuff” has to stand out from the clutter!

3.  I made it so that they felt good about referring to me.  I gave them things that they valued — I gave them “fact sheets” about common mental health issues to hand out to their patients .  The docs LOVED these.  Of course, my contact information was on everything!  I provided their office with 100+ newsletters for their waiting room.  These newsletters were full of helpful information.  I gave them fax referral sheets to simply fill in and fax to me so their office staff didn’t have to take a lot of time calling my office.  I did everything I could to help them, and in turn, they helped me.

That’s it!  3 simple steps to get your foot in the door.  Try it — it works — and you just might have fun doing it!

Leave A Comment!



  1. Uriah Guilford /Reply

    Hi there,
    I just found your site through Twitter. Great info. This aspect of community networking is one that I have not fully explored. I really appreciate your suggestions. Gaining referral sources through building relationships with the “gatekeepers” is an excellent idea. Thanks!

  2. Deborah Legge PhD CRC LMHC /Reply

    Uriah — it’s ALL about relationships! Thanks for your comment!

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