In The Practitioner’s Journey, we use the metaphor of a bridge to describe a trusted source of referrals. One type of bridge is other health care professionals–local chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopaths, MD’s etc.

The idea that these people can be great referrers isn’t rocket science. What’s hard is that you’re likely scared half to death to approach them. And so you spend all your time tweeting instead of meeting, intimidated by the idea of approaching someone new.

Let’s fix that right now. What follows is a simple, and best of all, comfortable, way to connect with other health care professionals in your area.

1. Stop thinking that this is something it isn’t.
First, it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel squishy. Because what you have in mind probably IS scary and squishy.

What you have in mind is probably to walk into someone’s office, introduce yourself, and say, “Oh God, I’m so amazing, may I please have some referrals?”

So let’s not do that, because it will both suck and not work.

2. Change your goal.
Let’s do this differently.

Instead of the goal of asking for a referral, which is scary and lame, let’s reverse it. Instead of asking for something, how about we give something?

Why? Because asking for something from a stranger isn’t that effective, and even more importantly, asking for something from a stranger is so intimidating that you almost certainly won’t do it.

“But what do I have to give?” you ask?

3. Use the following script, more or less.
I’d suggest you get in touch by email, and just say, more or less:

Hi <first name>,

I’ve just opened my new practice here in Anytown. I’m looking for a good <chiropractor/acupuncturist/massage therapist/etc> to refer my clients to, and I was wondering if I could drop by your office to learn more about your services and what conditions you have the most success with?

You can modify this to suit you, but the premise is simple: get in touch to offer referrals. It’s easy, it should be true—what great health professional doesn’t need to refer?—and it’s genuinely helpful to them. And all those things make it comfortable so that you’ll actually do it.

4. Stay connected.
What we’re really doing here, of course, is starting to build a relationship, and that takes some ongoing maintenance. So follow your bridges on social media. Subscribe to their stuff. Stay in touch, and refer to them where appropriate.

That’s it. Squish-free networking, complete with a dose of helper’s high. :)

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3 Responses to “How to Comfortably Ask Other Health Professionals for Referrals”

  1. Thank you for all of your articles on asking others for referrals. I occasionally get to guest lecture in a practice management class for third-year acupuncture students, and I always show them your website and go through your recommendations with them… very helpful!

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks, Michelle!

  3. Jason says:

    Another informative article, Dan! My strategy after 20 years of practice in the Bay Area was to go into PT and orthopedics clinics with a dozen bagels and cream cheese, leave some stuff, and if I had a moment with a practitioner, tell them briefly that I want the patients they don’t want: the ones with whom they’ve already tried everything else, or for whom they’d reached a plateau. They were only too happy to send away the patients who frustrated them the most!

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