Establishing a steady stream of referrals that brings you more clients than you can imagine is a goal for most mental health professionals in private practice. This series will take you on a road trip; the purpose of which is to give you a whole new perspective and purpose when it comes to marketing your practice. Each message builds on the last. Learn what it takes to build your business and feel good about how you do it.
This is day six of a 10-day series of messages created just for you. Today, we’ll continue our journey from Point A (not enough referrals) to Point B (a strong referral network). Today — we’ll look at ways to get connected with your referral partners
Day 6: Get them to engage with you
There are many opportunities to get attention for you and your practice. Each time you get that attention — each time you get your foot in the door — you get a chance to “reach out and touch” your potential referral partner. Self-promotion is what we do to get noticed and get referrals.
I’m enjoying a great opportunity to train with Book Yourself Solid marketing guru Michael Port. Michael identifies 6-core self-promotion strategies, which I’ll share with you here. You don’t have to do all of these — but I would encourage you to stretch beyond your comfort level when you are able. These are the strategies that will take you from a foot in the door, to meaningful and long-lasting relationships with your referral sources.
- Networking is the process by which we deepen our relationships with our referral sources and colleagues. Yes, you heard me right — networking is about nurturing relationships with other private practitioners too. When done right, this is NOT a competition. Networking is about being a resource; being of service; being a connecter; being generous; and providing value. The larger your network, the greater your reach in the community
- Direct Outreach is what we do to network, cross-promote, and build referral relationships with other professionals. There are countless ways to reach out in your community of referral sources. Phone calls, letters, and events, are all great direct outreach strategies. You can be creative, unique, and it can really be fun!
- Referral Strategy is the work you do to position yourself in such a way that your referral sources recommend you to other potential referral sources; and your clients refer you to others as well. It’s the way you manage your referrals, and meet the need and expectations associated with each referral. This takes work, but it is worth it!
- Speaking Strategy is something you can do in a small way or in a big way. You may decide to speak at the local PTA meeting, on a local news show, or in front of 500 people at a national conference. (Don’t worry) You don’t have to do this, but it can be a great way to maximize your exposure
- Writing Strategy is also optional (but recommended). You can write a newsletter for your practice, an article for your local newspaper, an e-book to be sold on your website, or you can even contribute to others’ writing (such as with Help A Reporter Out — www.helpareporter.com)
- Web Strategy includes building a great website, getting more visitors to your website, converting your website visitors into clients, and establishing and growing your social media presence. You can do the basics for each of these (or hire someone to do it for you), or you can use this amazing opportunity to expand your business beyond the dollars for hours work you do as a clinician
Each of these strategies will help you get connected with more referrals and more clients. Any marketing plan you put together should include a combination of at least a few of those components.
Which way should you go when promoting your practice? FORWARD (NOW!!)
Hi Deb — I so enjoy the resources and information you share here. I am a strong believer in networking with so-called competition. I am a freelance writer as well as a counselor and networking with other writers has been absolutely VITAL to my career. Sure, there are people who steal ideas or contacts but they are few and far between. Far more common have been other writers who are generous with their support and information. I am optimistic that the counseling community is the same way. So far I’ve helped our local ACA group put together a networking group (our first meeting is next week) and I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve also thought of sending a letter of introduction to the other clinicians in my neighborhood but am not sure how to do this sensitively. I am very interested to know more about what other people in the area offer so that I can make good referrals but I don’t want to seem pushy. Do you have any thoughts about how to do this most appropriately?
@Dawn – I’ll just bet that like-minded people are hungry for what you are considering. What you are really looking to do is to put together a networking event! The right people will want to attend, and then you can share your ideas and information for future collaboration. Now that summer is on the way, you might choose a place with a patio for a networking happy hour. It would be informal and fun. You could put together a fun invitation letting folks know what you are planning, when and where. Include an RSVP (so you know how many to expect). Bring name tags (we really don’t like them, but they are really great at such an event), and invite people to bring their business cards and other information about their practices. Let us know how it goes!
Thanks Deborah! Maybe I can combine both events and invite people I’d like to reach out to specifically. Even though the meeting I’m working on now is under the auspices of our local ACA, we’re keeping it open to non-counselors so I’ll check with my co-coordinators and see how they feel about using it to outreach to social workers and psychologists, too. I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂