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  • Writer's pictureAvivit Fisher

How to Get More Clients as a Therapist with Referrals

This article shows how to get more clients as a therapist through referrals. It highlights 7 different ways of growing your referral network in person and online.

how to get more clients as a therapist

I don't know of any other industry that's more reliant on referrals than Healthcare. For mental health providers, the culture of referrals is especially strong. Most therapists I've encountered are not interested in cut-throat competition with other mental health providers. What's more, therapists are actively looking to collaborate and establish long-lasting relationships for the good of their businesses and their clients.

Despite the attention digital marketing has been getting over the past couple of decades, referrals have unfortunately become an afterthought for many therapists. They're seen as an accidental byproduct of a therapist's individuality and connectedness instead of a strategic source of revenue.

In this article, I'd like you to consider 7 different ways in which you can actively cultivate your network and generate referrals.

free marketing for therapists guide

Build Relationships with Other Professionals

People like being useful. If you've ever been a part of a local Facebook group where people ask for advice, you know how much the members love recommending businesses to each other.

Word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective ways to create awareness about your small business and develop a positive reputation. Knowing that is encouraging because you can take control of the word-of-mouth method by pinpointing and approaching the types of businesses and professionals that have access to the clients in your niche.

The people that you may want to consider are other therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors. But also, you may want to connect with local businesses that serve your type of ideal clients. By suggesting a mutually beneficial relationship, you can expand your reach and attract more clients locally.

Attend and host Networking Events

Networking events, when not curated and planned, can be wildly ineffective. Attending a local small business event is a waste of time for a therapist in my opinion. Having to speed-converse with other small business owners who are trying to promote their business doesn't usually lead to more business.

Similarly, networking within groups like BNI (Business Network International) is not where I'd like you to invest your time and resources.

What works though, is being a part of a local network of therapists through your state's Psychological Association or Social Worker's Association. These organizations can help you meet other therapists and create meaningful professional relationships.

Besides attending events, you can organize events on your own, inviting practice and business owners who would make sense for a strategic partnership with you. You can even organize learning events like workshops, and present a topic you're specializing in. There's no limit to creativity.

To make the most of these events as an organizer or an attendee, you need to be ready with your business cards and a sign-up sheet for people to leave their contact information. This can help you continue the conversation after the event and build up your email list for your email marketing.

I offered a free workshop for NJPA and promoted my services in the end. The result - 3 new clients out of 17 attendees!

Offer Referral Incentives

While offering financial incentives for referrals is prohibited in most states and is considered to be ethically wrong, there are other ways to incentivize referrals.

Offering a free workshop or presentation to a company or organizations like schools, churches, etc. can offer you access to a wider audience of potential clientele. Many organizations that don't have the budget to pay for such talks and workshops will gladly refer you to their members. Adding value in this way can be a non-financial incentive for your referral partners.

In fact, this is how I got my first clients. I offered a free workshop for NJPA and promoted my services in the end. The result - 3 new clients out of 17 attendees!

Utilize Social Media to generate referrals

Social Media - the elephant in the room. Most therapists I've worked with dread the idea of having to promote themselves on social media. Frankly, I can understand. Putting yourself out there can make you feel like you're stripping yourself of your professionalism a little bit.

But that's not the case when your goal is to build connections for referrals. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be a treasure trove for building professional relationships.

First, you'll need to decide which platform makes the most sense for your goal. I'm a big advocate for using LinkedIn in building professional relationships. It's a serious platform focused on career and profession and its algorithm allows you to expand your network relatively fast.

But no matter which platforms you choose, start by optimizing your profile and write about yourself in a way that's appealing for others to connect with you. Don't forget to include your contact information and a call-to-action in your social media profiles, encouraging potential clients to reach out to you for more information.

LinkedIn as well as Facebook allows you to create and participate in groups by interest. There are many groups geared specifically toward therapists, medical providers, and people in your niche where you can share helpful information, respond to questions, and offer to collaborate.

Collaborate with Other Therapists

Btw, collaboration is one of the best strategies to generate referrals. So what does collaboration look like for you?

Reaching out to your colleagues with complementing services. For example, if you're working with teens, you could collaborate with a therapist who's specialized in eating disorders. In essence, choose a practice owner in your network with whom you can create workshops, co-author articles, and blog posts.

The idea is to tap into each other's pool of clients and professional networks without competing for appointments.

Use your Listserv

A listserv is an email list of people who share a common interest, like a profession. Different professional associations (ACA, APA, etc) will give you access to their listserv as an added benefit for becoming a member.

Usually, these email lists consist of hundreds if not thousands of professionals who share information, advice and ask for referrals. If you're a part of such an email list, you can send an introduction email offering to build referral relationships with practitioners in your area.

These emails can be very effective if you write them in an engaging and friendly way that highlights the mutual benefits of building a referral relationship.

People like working with people whom they know, like, and trust. Your social network already does so use it to for your advantage.

Recruit your social network

Ideally, your social network consists of people who like you and could potentially recommend you. If they don't, they probably don't know how to do that.

If you find yourself in social situations like parties, celebrations, or family gatherings, you can talk about your work without worrying that you'll have to provide free therapy. There's always a risk, but if you tell people how you help a particular niche, they're more likely to remember you and refer you instead of asking you for advice.

People like working with people whom they know, like, and trust. Your social network already does so use it to for your advantage.

Conclusion: How to get more clients as a therapist using referrals

Generating referrals for a therapy practice is a pretty simple task, but it's not an easy one. It requires a thought-out approach and a plan. It's important to remember that keeping yourself on top of people's minds is your job and to be successful, you also need to be consistent.

This article highlights the resources you have at your disposal to succeed but if you need more help attracting therapy clients, you can book a free call with me.

Do you have another way to generate referrals that I hadn't mentioned? Comment below, I'd love to learn more.


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