Build a Professional Referral Network

This is a great article from GPM on creating a networking group for marketing. I hope it gives you some ideas.

Build a Professional Referral Network
by Xaña Winans, President GPM, Golden Proportions Marketing

You’re probably already asking your patients for referrals, but there’s another group available to you that is a tremendous resource for patients: your professional peers. I’m not only talking about other dentists, I’m talking about a broad group of professionals. From physicians, cosmetic surgeons, physical therapists, chiropractors, family doctors and OBGYNs to massage therapists, spas and hair salons. You can even form a broad network and include a painter, plumber and electrician! The choices, and the opportunities, are yours. Think about it. If you offer cosmetic dentistry and smile makeovers, it’s only logical that you develop a network of professional peers that would find a reason to refer their clients or patients to you. A cosmetic surgeon is a perfect example. After a patient invests money into plastic surgery, doesn’t it stand to reason that he or she would also want a smile that’s youthful and vibrant? Many dentists offer periodontal therapy. With all the recent studies proving the connection between gum disease and an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, pre-term and low birth weight babies, a variety of health care professionals, from family docs and cardiologists to OBGYN’s, could benefit from knowing a dentist to whom to refer an at-risk patient in need of gum care.
Developing your network is not only beneficial in terms of growing your practice; it can be a fulfilling, rewarding and enjoyable experience. Think of the new people you’ll meet and the opportunities that alone presents. There are a variety of ways to form a network and I’d be happy to share some of these innovative ideas with you to help you get started. We encourage our clients who have had custom photo shoots and have testimonial albums of their patients to print affordable, mini-versions of the albums. They can then leave the albums in the waiting rooms of cosmetic surgeons, general dentists who don’t offer cosmetic procedures, salons, spas . . . you get the idea. Opening a new practice or showcasing a renovation? Host a professionals-only Open House. Meet and greet your peers. Explain the services you offer and let them know how those services can benefit their patients. Send them home with brochures or practice portfolios to place in their waiting rooms. Think about hosting a Lunch and Learn. For example, a dentist who treats TMJ pain could invite other dentists, doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. to learn how malocclusion can cause a variety of painful symptoms that their treatment methodologies may not affect. The dentist can then hand out a TMJ-specific Professional Referral Pad.
Create a members-only referral group. Invite a variety of professionals to join a “referral” group. Make sure there’s only one of each “profession” represented. For example, form a group with one dentist, one family doctor, one chiropractor, one spa, one gym, etc. and refer within your group. The network can be as small and specialized or as wide and varied as you choose! And everybody wins. Celebrate a holiday! Christmas, Hanukah. The New Year. Halloween. Memorial Day. 4th of July. It doesn’t matter which holiday you choose. Simply put together an appropriately themed gift basket, including your practice portfolio or brochure and a Professional Referral Pad, and drop them off at the offices of those with whom you’d like to network. There are so many ways to form referral networks, and so many benefits and advantages of being a part of one, you’ve got to give it try.