Most professionals in private practice have been taught to reach out to local primary care providers and psychiatrists to cultivate referrals for our practices. Then, we wait.
The problem with this strategy? It rarely creates a consistent pipeline of referrals. It also places practitioners in a holding pattern, where you wait for referrals not knowing when the next one will show up in your inbox.
Luckily, there’s another way. The first step is to clarify your specialty area, or your niche. Next begin to cultivate relationships with specific referral partners in your same area or discipline. This active, entrepreneurial approach encourages you to be proactive about building your practice.
How to Find Your Ideal Referral Partners
Identifying your niche involves figuring out the kind of clients you want to work with, and what problems you want to help them overcome. It can feel like a tall order to have your ideal client totally figured out, but it doesn’t have to be. Just think about areas you naturally feel comfortable in, and focus on those as your practice grows.
The next step in identifying a potential referral partner involves brainstorming what other businesses might be engaging with your ideal clients. This allows the entrepreneurial practitioner to pursue authentic relationships with a smaller ecosystem of referral partners who are genuinely invested in each other’s success.
Cultivate Mutually Beneficial Relationships
When you focus your efforts and choose your referral partners with intention, everyone benefits. As the practice owner, you’re able to reach clients you can have the biggest impact on. And your referral partner is able to ensure their clients have access to the support they need. Plus, the client gets the interdisciplinary care they need.
A well-niched practice creates specific opportunities to work with unconventional referral partners who share your ideal clients. Here are five unconventional, but mutually beneficial, referral partnerships you can check out for your own practice.
1. Divorce Groups and Attorneys As uncanny as it may seem, divorce support groups and divorce attorneys are often looking for referral partnerships. Divorce can be one of the most stressful life events, and people often don’t realize just how stressful the experience can be until they’re in the thick of the process. For example, a therapist who specializes in life transitions, healing from divorce, or growth after trauma would make an excellent referral partner with a divorce attorney.
Consider reaching out to local divorce attorneys to see what type of support their clients may need. You can offer a free consultation call to their clients, or offer to work with local support groups on ways to cope with stress after a divorce.
2. Coaches Coaches can be a wonderful source for referrals. Many of the coaches that I’ve worked with are very clear on the differences between therapy and coaching, and they want to refer their clients when they’re struggling with concerns that are outside the scope of coaching.
There are opportunities for synergy between coaches and therapists when they support each other in areas that aren’t typically addressed by the other service. You can partner with a coach who works with their clients on writing a resume, planning a job search, honing their interview skills, or transitioning out of a stressful work environment.
If their clients experience considerable stress or anxiety that‘s affecting their functioning or personal relationships, they’re often ready to refer to a therapist for targeted support. It’s common for therapists and coaches to work with the same clients and focus on different concerns, which can deepen the client’s healing and growth and strengthen the collaboration between providers.
3. Financial Therapists and Planners Money management and financial planning can be very sensitive topics. Issues with relationships, job satisfaction, stress, and financial worries can all surface during sessions with a financial therapist or financial planner. These professionals often look for other practitioners that can provide more specialized support for more deep-rooted feelings or associations that may be impacting more than just their relationship with finances.
Without support, the intensity of finances can cause clients to avoid planning or get stuck in a cycle of stress. Financial planners are ready and willing to refer their clients to supportive services that allow them the best chance for financial success. Research local financial planners, and ask what types of clients they specialize in. From there, you can discuss ways to collaborate and best support each other’s businesses.
4. Dentists A dentist may sound like a surprising referral partner, but think about the last time you moved somewhere new. One of the first things you probably did was find a new doctor, dentist, or therapist. It can be stressful to find new healthcare providers when moving to a new area.
Connect with a couple local dentists to see if there’s a way you can share links, brochures, or other practice information with each other’s clients. You can take this a step further by creating a list of local services that can help potential clients who are new to the area. This may be especially helpful if you specialize in working with young adults or times of life transition.
5. Acupuncturists Acupuncturists are another great referral source. They often work with clients on physical or mental health concerns, so they regularly partner with therapists and other practitioners to support their clients’ holistic needs. If you specialize in women’s health, food relationships, trauma treatment, or have a holistic approach to mental health, an acupuncturist may be a good referral partner for you.
During acupuncture sessions, emotional concerns or stressful circumstances may arise that could require additional support. Do some research on local acupuncturists in your area and see if you can find one that works with a similar client base as you, and then reach out to let them know you’re interested in a possible collaboration.
These five professional groups are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible partnerships. These suggestions are just a starting point. Consider other professionals in your area or community that may work with people who would benefit from your services. Once you have a place to start, it’s easier to take action and begin to reach out. Scary as it may be, you never know what amazing opportunities might be right around the corner.
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Pollen Magazine examines the health and wellness industry through the lens of the professionals that are redefining private practice. Find inspiration, learn from others, and discover insights on how to build the best version of your practice.
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