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How would you rank your referral network? Are clients referring potential clients to you regularly?  When it comes to marketing your services, word of mouth is by far the most effective way to get new business. Small Business Trends surveyed small business surveyed small business owners in Philadelphia and 85 percent of them indicated that their customers learned about them through other customers.

If satisfied clients can help drive new business through the door, just think of the potential of referrals from physicians or other health care practitioners, such as chiropractors, psychotherapists, occupational and physical therapists and acupuncturists. Since all of them are seeking the best care for their patients, a referral from one of them can be golden to your business and reputation.

But unlike your clients who meet with you on a regular basis, you need to proactively reach out to health care providers to let them know about your expertise and offerings for therapeutic massage as a complement to their treatments and services. You’ll want to put together a specific marketing plan to ensure that you convey the right messages to the right targets. Having any doctor or other health care professional s refer patients to you should not be the goal. Aim for referrals from professionals that share your values and are well respected in your community.

Develop an outreach plan

Start with your own practitioners: Your doctor and other health care professionals you see regularly should be at the top of your contact list. Even if they know what you do, they may not know about all of your services and the types of clients you help. Educate them about what you do.

Create a target list: Ask your clients, friends and family members about their doctors and other health care providers and if they would be comfortable if you contacted them using their name as a referral. Business partners can be a source of leads, too. Joining LinkedIn groups also can be a way to identify potential contacts. Look for groups to join that will enable you to interact with health care professionals that would be appropriate for referring patients.

Have a contact plan: Your plan for contacting your targets can vary. In some cases, you may want to call the office and see if you can arrange a time to come in and discuss your services. You also can email or mail some information about your services beforehand, such an article or guest blog post that you’ve written, and then follow up to see if you can schedule a meeting. The information you send should highlight how what you provide helps will their patients.

Give a talk: If you are giving a talk somewhere and the information is relevant to physicians or other health care professionals that you’d like to reach, send them an invite. Similarly, if they are speaking somewhere that you hear about, attend the lecture and introduce yourself.

Getting referrals from doctors and others in the health care field will take some work but the effort is well worth your time since you’ll not only gain new clients, you’ll be helping to raise awareness about the value of therapeutic massage as a complementary medicine.